When I was 17 I bought a brand new ’77 Chevy Nova.  For its first oil change, I treated it to synthetic.  I’ve been running synthetic most of the time ever since.  These days, rather than just telling the service advisor that I want synthetic, I wait to see how (if) they’ll present it to me.  I’ve yet to have someone explain the benefits of synthetic.  The most I’ve been offered is “We have regular oil, synthetic blend and full synthetic.” 

I’ll admit to having been surprised at the number of shops that have told me they don’t carry synthetic.  When we’re talking as fellows in the industry, they revealed it’s because they feel they make less money when people extend their change intervals with synthetic and don’t get as many oil changes.  I’m not convinced that the math works out that way over the long run.  Regardless, it’s wishful thinking that their customers will somehow miss all those TV ads touting synthetic oil and will never want it.  And what of the increasing number of vehicles that come from the factory filled with synthetic as the recommended oil?

With proper training, service advisors can effectively offer and sell synthetic oil and make it a profitable option.  When customers (and the service team) understand a few simple points, synthetic oil is a great value for the customer:

  • Conventional oil molecules are long hydrocarbon chains of varying length.  Synthetic oil molecules are more uniform, regular and “round”.
    • Use the phrase, “Which is slipperier, a pile of marbles or a pile of pencils?”
      • We showed a video segment containing this concept to product managers and marketing executives at the headquarters of a major oil company and got responses like, “I’ve been working here for 15 years and I’ve never thought of it that way.  How simple.”
  • Because of the shape of synthetic molecules, there is less friction in the engine
    • Engine runs cooler
    • Expensive engine parts are better protected and last longer
    • Reduced friction means increased power and better fuel economy
  • Synthetic oil is more sludge resistant
    • Protects engine better
    • Extends the change interval

Another point that’s often over looked is the need for an oil filter that has the capacity to effectively filter the oil over the extended drain interval.  Cheap filters are fine if one changes oil every three or four thousand miles, but if your interval is running as much as ten thousand miles (like one of my cars) you better have a filter that can hold enough dirt to not have to go into bypass mode months before the oil change is due.

Synthetic oil is here to stay: it’s the recommended fill for many vehicles, preferred by many consumers and is a great way to demonstrate value to your customers.  If you're still sitting on the fence, take another look at the business case of synthetic oil.

Lance Boldt is Vice President and Co-Founder of AutoNetTV.  AutoNetTV’s digital signage products deliver entertaining and educational TV programming to the lobbies of automotive service and repair businesses as well as digital menu boards and automotive website video content.