There are many signs of the down economy right now. One that I didn’t see coming came knocking on my door a couple weeks ago. I answered and it was a door to door salesman selling oil changes.
Yes, you read that right. The gig was a somewhat smaller auto shop that apparently is hurting decided they would hit the streets and sell oil changes door to door. They were selling them in a bulk package that averaged a cheaper rate than the traditional cost of an oil change, but the catch was you had to pay for all (six) the oil changes up front. This is a great business strategy, just like companies selling gift cards. It is similar to an interest free loan for them. I learned all about it when I worked in retail.
The pitch went like this. “We want you to come try us out and learn to trust us with your car. Would you switch mechanics if it meant saving about 50% on oil changes?”
My answer? I sure would. I am not a car guy. I like my car but I don’t really know much about it aside from the very basic things. I can fill my tank with gas, change my wipers, check my tire pressure and I can even reset my check engine/oil light myself. I do need a mechanic I can trust and lucky for these new guys, my current mechanic was not scoring points with me. On top of that, my current mechanic was pricier than this new place’s regularly priced oil change.
I ended up telling the guy I wanted to talk to my wife about it, to which I got the standard door to door salesman answer, “I am not supposed to let you keep the card or come back later.” but after listening to a bit more of his spiel and showing him my interest, he said he could drop by a few hours later before he left the area.
When that time came, I told the guy I wanted to call his shop and ask a few questions before committing to buying oil changes in advance. He then said, “I really can’t come back to the area but if you buy it tonight I will knock another $20 off the price”. I took the deal.
I got six oil changes, plus half a dozen more discounts that came with the package including 50% off any one service, 10% off tire rotation, and a few other discounts all for $60 with an average cost of oil change dropping from $35 per change (my regular place) to $10 per change. All of the additional services that were being discounted I was planning on getting in the near future as my car is due for them so my future costs would be lower as well. Needless to say, I was happy with it.
When the guy came knocking I was actually 2 months over due for an oil change so I called and made an appointment. One other catch of the deal, I have to call in and schedule for an appointment instead of just dropping the car off whenever convenient for me. I didn’t mention this catch because this is something I had tried to do at my now previous mechanic, but was told it wasn’t an option.
To wrap things up, my appointment went great. The people were friendly, but not I am screwing you behind your back friendly. They were FAST, I was in and out of there in twenty five minutes compared to my previous mechanic’s hour and twenty or so. And the place was in a more convenient location.
Would you buy oil changes, or any other staple of life, in this non-traditional way if it was cheaper and sold to you at your doorstep?