National Oil & Lube News

February 2017

Digital issues of National Oil & Lube News, the trade magazine for the preventive maintenance industry

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Page 31 of 67

32 NOLN | For many oil and lube shops, fleet accounts offer a steady, consistent flow of business that helps to smooth over the ebbs and flows of individual custom- er traffic. Fleet accounts can add both stability and growth to a business's bottom line. Across the board, fleet accounts make up, on average, about 10 percent of oil and lube shop sales. However, many shop owners don't know where to begin when it comes to finding these elusive accounts. Often, the biggest potential accounts in town already have contracts with big nation- al auto service chains, leaving smaller chains and individual shops to look elsewhere for extra business. So where can owners looks for fleet accounts? What kind of offer does it take to get contracts signed? What strategies work best to maximize profit and efficiency? Finding Fleets Most operators define fleet accounts as any company with five or more vehicles that consistently need service, though the average fleet size is around 10 vehicles. is definition likely applies to a surprising number of businesses in your area. e first place to look for a fleet account is your local government and municipalities. States, counties and cities maintain large fleets of vehicles that need to be serviced. Typically, these accounts are up for grabs to the lowest bidder, as is usual for government agencies. All a business owner needs to do is find the government website where bids can be submitted, fill out the form and, when the contracts are up for renewal, send in an offer they can't refuse. Private businesses with multiple vehicles can take a bit more effort and creative thinking to seek out. One obvious place to start is any local rental car agency. e huge number of cars, and the high mileage they rack up, make these particularly attractive targets for oil and lube operators. Taxi services and used car lots are also good bets for the same reason. Another industry worth looking at for fleet contracts is construction. Construction companies often have a large fleet of pickup trucks, machinery and other vehicles they have to maintain. Offering them a one-stop-shop for their ve- hicle service will likely be very attractive to managers. Other potential fleet clients include local utilities, limousine services and even larger plumbing, HVAC and other home repair businesses. Again, any business with five or more company-owned cars is fair game. What to Offer? Once you've selected a few local establishments you'd like to target as poten- tial fleet accounts, it's time to put together an offer. Oil and lube shop own- ers often think they need to offer big discounts that put their profit margins in serious jeopardy. ankfully, that's not the case. Instead of charging less, offer more. Most company managers and owners with the authority to sign a contract are very busy. In fact, yours is likely not the first offer they've re- ceived. Many would rather save time than a few extra dollars, so the more comprehensive a service plan you can offer, the more likely you are to get a meaningful handshake afterward. Consider putting together a package that, at minimum, includes three to four oil changes, air filter, fuel filter, transmission flush and brake check annually for each vehicle in a customer's fleet. Depending on what kind of vehicles the client operates, you may also want to offer them a maintenance program that follows the OEM guidelines for the specific vehicle make and model. Fleet Accounts: Landing the Big Fish

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