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2011 Auto Chain Product Study: Motor Oil

Variety and cost combine to motivate motor oil marketing choices
Monday, January 3, 2011 - 01:00
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Selection and price are the lubricating factors behind brisk motor oil sales for McKay Auto Parts in Litchfield, Ill.

“We’ve got to stay as close as we can to the national stores like the Wal-Marts and AutoZones,” says president and CEO Jim McKay. “We watch that closely and we stay competitive with them.”

In addition to staying close with the cost, McKay has an edge by stocking an inclusive mix of readily available offerings. “The national chains don’t get into it as much as we do,” he observes.

 

“We’re the one place that has all the different products,” says McKay, especially synthetic truck oils that are carried by a limited amount of competitors.

The company’s service center customers can confidently count on all their oil orders being filled. “We keep a variety of various oils,” he explains, “and the NAPA oil is very popular because they know it’s made by a major manufacturer.”

Arnold Motor Supply of Spencer, Iowa highlights given lines to grease the pace of professional purchases. “Every month we have a special where we bring in multiple viscosities,” reports marketing manager Dave Kimbell. “We have a concentrated from the sales people because it’s such a great tool.”

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Presenting the products in a series of larger-sized containers is another plus because “your technician is moving faster” by pouring from a single source rather than opening several at a time. “They’re all extremely popular out in the field,” Kimbell says.

For do-it-yourselfers patronizing Brooks Auto Parts, Inc. in Douglas, Ga., “we try to put together programs with the motor oil-slash-filter deal. You almost have to put together a deal.” The customer “is not really looking at the price on the oil as much as he’s looking at the oil change and the filter and oil in a package; in the past year that’s really caught on in our part of the country,” says Wayne Marsh, vice president of store operations.

“Synthetics are really coming on quick,” Marsh continues, noting that the trend towards keeping a car longer “with the economy like it is” is a presumed driver of these lines. “His dad always taught him to change the oil every 3,000 miles; now he’s stretching it to 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 miles, and they feel comfortable going with synthetic oil.”

Marketing is accomplished via flyers, mailers and advertisements in local newspapers and shopper publications. Window slicks are another promotional avenue. Not every passer-by walks in the door right away, “but when they think about their oil they come back because they remember seeing a competitive price in your window,” Marsh says.

“You’re always selling your cheapest oil and then upselling them when they come in,” Marsh explains. Having a wide ranging stock of recognizable labels is key. Most people “are pretty loyal to their oil brand like you would be to Ford or Chevy, so you have to have the name brand oil to serve that customer.”

“We partner up with our motor oil manufacturers” for collateral materials and bargains based on customer rebates, says Mike Lichtenberg, retail merchandising director at Automotive Parts Headquarters, Inc., based in Saint Cloud, Minn. “We run these for windows of time, so they’re limited, but they help with the stepped-up sale,” he notes, which usually involves oil changes done with synthetics. “There’s more and more synthetic oil being sold today, and we encourage that.”

The synthetics cost more and are a better product; they are more uniform and more consistent, according to Lichtenberg.

Selection and price are the lubricating factors behind brisk motor oil sales for McKay Auto Parts in Litchfield, Ill.

“We’ve got to stay as close as we can to the national stores like the Wal-Marts and AutoZones,” says president and CEO Jim McKay. “We watch that closely and we stay competitive with them.”

In addition to staying close with the cost, McKay has an edge by stocking an inclusive mix of readily available offerings. “The national chains don’t get into it as much as we do,” he observes.

 

“We’re the one place that has all the different products,” says McKay, especially synthetic truck oils that are carried by a limited amount of competitors.

The company’s service center customers can confidently count on all their oil orders being filled. “We keep a variety of various oils,” he explains, “and the NAPA oil is very popular because they know it’s made by a major manufacturer.”

Arnold Motor Supply of Spencer, Iowa highlights given lines to grease the pace of professional purchases. “Every month we have a special where we bring in multiple viscosities,” reports marketing manager Dave Kimbell. “We have a concentrated from the sales people because it’s such a great tool.”

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