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oil change

Have you ever had an experience with a business that leaves you thrilled?  The kind where you know that you’ll be back and you leave wanting to tell everyone how awesome it is?  Surprisingly, this happened to me while at my local lube shop, a place I wasn’t exactly expecting to have an amazing experience.

My business brain kicked into gear and I began to think about why the experience was so great.  Without further ado, here they are: the five business lessons I learned from my local lube shop.

1) Know your customer.  The owner of my local oil change establishment is a woman.  Probably not too common, but she knows very well that an oil change experience can be daunting for anyone who doesn’t know the first thing about cars.  For women, she holds special free workshops  to teach them the basics of car care, what to expect when dealing with a reputable establishment, and when to know you’re being taken for a ride (pun intended!).

Who exactly is your customer?  Where do they hang out?  How do they dress?  What do they look like?  Where are they in life?  Who are their friends?  What do they do for fun?  Knowing these things will not only help you understand how to serve your customers, but will enable to you find more of them, since you’ll know where to look.

2) Let your business speak for itself.  My husband went in this same place a while ago and they suggested he get some work done on his car.  He said he would think about it, and with no pressure, the staff printed him out their prices for parts and labor, handed it to him, and said, “here ya go, we like to give this to our customers so they can compare and shop around.  If you decide you’d like to have the work done here, we’ve got a record of our suggestions and you can just come visit us again.”

Boom.  Is that confidence in business or what?  Own your prices, don’t apologize for them.  Don’t push your customers into buying from you.  Sell from a place of love and not desperation.  Take care of your customers and they’ll take care of you.

3) Surprise and delight.  This is one of my favorite business rules and something I always try to do.  My local lube shop has a stocked Keurig machine, water, and the most amazing kids place.  The owner knows that when folks with kids go for an oil change it can SUCK.  Those kids get bored, fast.  So, she delighted me by having a table, coloring books, crayons, a few toys, AND the end of the pay counter is a chalkboard.  And there’s a nice collection of gossip, fashion, fitness, and beauty magazines, too.  Yes, it probably costs her extra money every month to subscribe to all of these, but it’s such a nice touch when you’re waiting.  Oh, and there’s free wi-fi.  It’s the little things, right?

What can you do to make your customers’ life a little easier?  How can you surprise them?  What would delight them?

4) Add value.  Kate Northrup, author of Money, A Love Story said recently, “The amount of money we make is dependent on the amount of value we provide in the world.”  And she’s right.  Want to be successful?  Add value.  Bring it.  How did my lube shop add value?  They vacuumed my car and topped off all the fluids.  Since I cart a toddler around all the time, my car was a disaster, and not only did they do a great job of vacuuming my car, but they also vacuumed said toddler’s car seat.  This is HUGE, people.  Huge!

How can you add value to your clients’ experience?  Look at your current offerings and brainstorm ways to increase the buyers’ experience in dealing with you.  Can you add on a free trial for a secondary service, or maybe give them a voucher to come back in a week for free?  Maybe include a gift with purchase?  These all take more work, just like them vacuuming the mass of crumbs from my kids car seat, but it added a lot of value for me, and it will for your customers too.

5) Have good vibes.  My local shop is a collections site for canned food donations.  That’s pretty nice, right?  I mean they don’t have to do that, but when I saw it, I noticed it.  I appreciated it.  It made me feel good to support them because they’re supporting others.  Find a way to give back with your business.  While you may not be able to build schools, make large donations to your favorite charities, or deliver goods to developing countries just yet, there’s always something you can do.  Here at Femworking we’re planning a day of service this Fall where we’ll help in some way around our community.

How can you give back?  What can you or your business do to be a more active part of your local community? Serving not only makes your business look good, but it feels good to you too.  Can you give financially or in a service capacity?  How would you do good if you could do anything you wanted?

And now I want to hear from you.  Leave a comment answering one of the questions above, or tell us if you’ve ever had a similar experience at a local establishment.  Where was it and what made them shine?

*Photo courtesy Kevin Dooley.

*Link to Kate Northrup’s Money, A Love Story is an affiliate link.  This is something new we’re testing out in our business!