David Wilensky, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, doesn’t have the time to leave his 1977 Grand Prix with a mechanic for several hours. And he’s not mechanically minded, so he doesn’t want to change his own oil.
“I’m not real good at these things,” he said.
So every three months or so, Wilensky, 27, spends about $20 to get his oil changed at Inn ‘n’ Out on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. He can be in and out and back to the courtroom in a few minutes.
Wilensky is among a growing number of motorists patronizing quick-lube oil- change stations, a 10-year-old industry that really started taking off two to three years ago.
The stations offer an oil and filter change in 10 minutes. They are part of the increasing segmentation of the automobile service industry. Traditional service station’s that did everything from pumping gas to fixing your carburetor is dwindling.
People who watch the quick-lube industry say growth will continue because Americans are keeping their cars longer. Two wage-earner families for whom time is a premium are prime customers. The companies also believe that inexpensive costs, about $20, will begin to lure those motorists who still change their own oil.
There are 2,500 quick-lube stations around the U.S. so far. But there are surprisingly few in retail-glutted South Florida, and some of the biggest chains are not represented here.
One franchised chain has plans for expansion, however, a move that competitors say they will welcome because it will help increase motorists’ awareness of their business.
“This is not a repair business; this is a service business,” said Frank J. Del Rocco, who operates nine Jiffy Lubes in South Florida, but plans to open 15 more. “We don’t do any repair work. The objective is to provide fast, convenient service, no appointment.”
Also, Avis the rent-a-car company is getting into the quick-lube business. It opens its first Avis Lube station in a few weeks in Long Island, N.Y., and plans to open 400 more over the next three years. Franchises have already been sold to operators in Tampa, Orlando, along the Gulf Coast and Palm Beach County. The first Florida Avis outlet should open this winter, said Avis Lube vice president Vincent Russo.
McQuik oil, based in Indianapolis, has outlets in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Delray Beach.
One station owner speculates why there are fewer quick-lube stations down here: Up north, the seasons remind motorists to do routine maintenance like antifreeze changes, according to Bill Stevenson, owner of Inn ‘n’ Out of Fort Lauderdale and Pembroke Park.