Competition In the Oil Change Business, Walmart Versus Mobile Oil Changing

Mobile oil changing brings convenience to the customer, thus, one would suspect that the price point could be significantly higher, as people are willing to pay extra for such convenience. Okay so, whereas, this is true enough, I’d like to take this industry sector dialogue to a higher level and look at just what true convenience is. Why you ask?

Well, simple, you see if you go to a quick lube you have to wait, but today everyone has a smart phone, and is likely to stop in at Starbucks, then go to the quick lube and then play on their smart phone or tablet until their car is done – is there really any inconvenience to the customer at that point?

Then there is the Walmart syndrome, low cost high volume. A strategy worthy of note in American business and they have mastered it. Not long ago, I was discussing all this with a start-up entrepreneur going into the mobile oil change business and he was preparing a business plan, determining probably price points, and considering his market segments – personal cars, fleets, and oil changing at corporate parking lots.

When we got on the topic of Walmart he said; “Darn Walmart, always sticking their nose in and slashing prices.” Yes, indeed, and when they see opportunity the move on it. Now then, consider this; Walmart found a niche being wrongfully exploited by some large quick lube chains. The quick lube change concept at the time Walmart entered the business to compete was of maximum upsell on female customers.

How did Walmart fix this problem and address consumer frustration? Well, think about it, today, women shop, come back and car is done, no inconvenience, and no outrageous upselling – Walmart wins. You see, I am okay with integrity in this industry. Walmart is a serious player. I’d just like them to go back to Sam’s vision he wrote about in his book; Made in America. I shop a Walmart sometimes, as they often have the best prices.

Of course, the entrepreneur going into the mobile oil change model perhaps sees things differently, he stated facetiously; “How long before they are selling cars and homes?” Well, that would be hard to predict, so it’s hard to say. Nothing is impossible, Wayne Huizenga made a ton of money selling cars – he was in the trash business before that. Circuit City had used car sales in their big parking lots, why waste the space. Although that hurt their brand as per several HBR articles, I found it clever and innovative at the time.


This industry has had so many attempts at new innovations, nothing surprises me much. It needs to be shaken up once in a while, otherwise old stodgy men, going to association meetings just get fat, dumb and really stupid. I say take this industry, WIN! The oil change sector is waiting for a revolutionary change, so bring it.

Article Source:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *