September 04, 2013

Brand Refreshers – Franchises get a boost with a new prototype

Another established franchise system refreshing its brand is Birmingham, Ala.-based Express Oil Change & Service Center. The nearly 200-unit quick-lube chain, that also offers a full-service mechanical department in each locations, has made changes in three distinct areas: First, the company gave their corporate stores a facelift, bringing them up to date and making them more visually-appealing. The new stores include exterior and interior repainting, new signage and lighting, updated architectural features such as light bars and scones, fresh uniforms for staff, and an entirely new waiting area with comfortable chairs, a workspace and Wi-Fi. The stores now also offer complimentary bottles of water, lollipops for children and even dog treats.

Express Oil Change also invested in in-bay media, putting digital media into every corporate store and many franchise-owned locations. Since customers stay in their vehicles for the duration of the company’s signature 10-minute oil change, a new 24-inch HD monitor is now positioned next to the driver’s window featuring product specials, service information, news headlines and weather information. Content is controlled from a centralized serve so that information can be pushed out to stores in real time.

A third area of focus for the growing chain has been on digital advancements. Traditionally, retailers in the quick-lube space have used direct mail to communicate with customers, but Express Oil Change has transitioned to email communication. Earlier this year, the company also launched EOC VIP, a free mobile app/web-based loyalty program for its customers. The program offers service reminders linked directly to customer’s vehicles and driving habits, discounts and coupon offers tailored to each customer, and other vehicle management tools. The brand refreshers have proven to communicate more effectively and gain more customers.

“The changes have effectively increased our ability to spread the word about our services to new customer or existing customers who may just see us as an oil change provider. We have also seen a sales impact on the stores that have received the face-lift and are consistently hearing from our customers that they appreciation the brand investments we’ve made,” said Josh Henderson, Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers senior vice president of marketing.

The facelifts will take the brand well into 2014 and beyond to implement across the chain. Expansion plans for the company include the opening of approximately 15 new stores per year.

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