National Oil & Lube News

March 2017

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

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Page 33 of 67

34 NOLN | One of these entrepreneurs is the owner of Colombia's first Grease Monkey shop — Juan Luis Saldarriaga. With 30 years of experience in the oil, lube and auto service industries, Saldarriaga, and the American Franchises S.A.S. company that represents Grease Monkey Colombia, could sense the winds of change blowing in Colombia. Realizing a new business model was needed to meet the needs of the modern Colombi- an consumer, Saldarriaga turned to Grease Monkey. From the beginning, Saldarriaga determined his Grease Monkey loca- tion in Medellín would be unlike any other auto service shop in the city. e differences started with the building itself. With its brick façade fol- lowing the pattern of Grease Monkeys in the U.S., the store stands out against the traditional Colombian architecture. Some patrons have even mistaken the establishment for a restaurant or donut shop. Inside, the difference is even starker. e floor and pits are painted with a light gray epoxy, and the entire facility is kept as clean as an op- erating room. For customers who consider their vehicles multi-decade investments, the spotless, state-of-the-art facility gives them the confi- dence their car is being well taken care of. Especially with the expanding market share of Colombian women in recent years, the clean, pleasant interior space adds an extra incentive to keep customers coming back. e garage portion of the shop features the same cutting-edge equip- ment and layout as Grease Monkeys in the States. Since the oil and lube industry is, in many ways, still in its infancy in Medellín, the overhead doors, pumps and lube guns all had to be imported into Colombia from the U.S. As one of the first of its kind in the country, finding and training qual- ified employees is essential to the Medellín Grease Monkey's ongoing success. To that end, the facility includes a training center where new employees can learn the ropes and continue to update their skills and knowledge as time goes on. Employees in Colombia are eager to learn, and excited to be part of an innovative, customer-focused business. As can be expected when dealing with an American business mod- el being transplanted to a different country and culture, establishing Grease Monkey Colombia was not without its hurdles. For one thing, a supply chain for the shop had to be created without the help of an ex- isting network. ankfully, one of the largest oil companies in the world has local ties in the country, and Grease Monkey Colombia was able to secure a lubricant supply contract. With its doors open for business and its logistical problems settled, the next big challenge facing the business was building the Grease Mon- key brand in Colombia. Even though Grease Monkey has been around since 1978 and has a firmly established reputation in the States, the brand is basically starting from scratch in Latin America. On top of that, the quick lube business model is very new to Colombian customers. Building up the brand and introducing the concept of in-and-out oil changes remains a top priority for the new Grease Monkey. At this early stage in the busi- ness, nearly all of the Medellín Grease Monkey's patrons are first-time customers. Saldarriaga and his team are determined to build a foundation of loyal, repeat customers. To do so, they are committed to providing the best in customer service while intro- ducing the Grease Monkey motto of, "less hassle, more hustle." As with most oil and lube busi- nesses, the Colombian Grease Monkey's most popular service is the oil change. Additional ser- vices include coolant flush, power steering fluid change, transmission fluid change, cabin odor elimination and air filter replacement. So far, all have been well received by custom- ers. At this time, the shop's focus is primarily on privately owned passen- ger vehicles, though fleet contracts and other, larger clients may follow. Compared to the U.S., Grease Monkey Medellín's prices are higher. is is largely due to the greater expense of oil in the country. Other overhead, like building rent, is comparable in cost to U.S. stores, though the price of construction is less. Labor, on the other hand, is dramatical- ly cheaper in Colombia. For now, Grease Monkey Medellín remains one of the few quick lube businesses of its kind in Colombia. Despite introducing a novel way of doing auto maintenance, the new business is primed for success. "e amount of time and effort Juan Luis put into the center to mir- ror the Grease Monkey model is astonishing," said Rick Juarez, director of Purchasing and corporate regional director of Grease Monkey In- ternational, Inc. "ere were many hurdles to overcome with sourcing items in Colombia, but Juan Luis was very diligent." With a lot of hard work and a tried and true business model, Saldar- riaga and his team are now poised to change the Colombian auto service industry for good. S

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