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Why We'll Never do a $9.95 Oil Change Special

July 11, 2018

If you search online for "cheap oil change" or call around to enough auto shops, you'll eventually find one that's offering an oil change for $9.95 or some other low-ball price.At Auto Lab, we will never do a $9.95 oil change. Here's why:

Shops that run those promotions want every opportunity to sell additional work.

In many (not all) cases, these shops are desperate for foot traffic. They need to do something extreme to bring clients and cars in the door. And if they are starving for business, there's a stronger likelihood they'll be aggressive with their repair and maintenance recommendations.If the recommendations are legitimate, then of course, there's nothing wrong with what they're doing. But think about it this way: You can't even go to the auto parts store on your own and buy oil and a filter for $9.95. How can an auto repair shop buy 5 quarts of oil, the filter, top off the fluids and pay the technician for $9.95?The answer is: They can't. They're losing money at that price point and have to sell additional work to offset that loss. And if I were the consumer, that’s exactly what I would be worried about. It's just like the convenience stores that sell milk at rock bottom prices: They need to get you in the door and then tempt you to buy other items with better profit margins.

We don't want to attract customers who seek out cheap oil changes.

Maybe this isn't popular to say, but we know from experience that cheap oil change specials bring in the wrong type of customer. They attract people who will drive 10 miles out of their way because they don't value their own time. They just want a cheap oil change and don't care that the rest of the car is, literally, falling apart.At Auto Lab, we serve clients who are willing to pay a fair price for an oil change, a quality oil filter and a vehicle inspection performed by an ASE-Certified Technician with years of experience. It's similar to going to the doctor for an overall health check. And our clients appreciate knowing that their cars are safe and don't need any repairs or that it's time to begin saving for maintenance that's due in 6 months.

What do we charge for an oil change?

At Auto Lab, our oil changes are $34 for regular, non-synthetic oil and a vehicle inspection. This is a typical price in the Chicago market. It's enough to pay the technician and cover the cost of the oil and filter. There's little to no profit in it.[caption id="attachment_1220" align="alignright" width="200"]

Auto Lab Owner & Founder Kevin Riddick

Kevin Riddick | Auto Lab Owner & Founder[/caption]I share this with you not to complain but to be transparent with you and help you understand why we charge what we do. (And why other shops also charge $35+ for an oil change.)For us, it covers our costs and keeps the oil change at a price the market will bear. It also means we're not under the gun to find additional work with every oil change. In fact, our technicians are paid a flat salary. They're paid for the time they spend at work, not on how much they sell or how much work they complete. This means they never have any incentive to recommend work you don't need.We've been in business for 25 years. And we owe that to the way we treat our clients: We would rather take the time to earn your trust than earn a quick buck, and that's true whether you come to us for a straightforward oil change or a complex engine performance problem.If you have any questions about oil changes, our pricing or anything else we do, please don't hesitate to contact me.Sincerely,Kevin RiddickAuto LabFounder & Owner

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