BALTIMORE -- A fledgling area company is hoping to cash in on the lucrative quick lubrication market by promising not only to change your car's oil in 10 minutes, but to travel to your house or workplace to do it.
In the age of "quicker is better," Baltimore-based Lube on The Move is attempting to eliminate the time it takes a motorist to drive to the ever-expanding number of automotive express outfits.
"The public has really accepted us," said Mike Helfrich, coowner of Lube On The Move. "We thought we would have to eat bread and butter for the first year, but we were wrong. The idea has really taken off."
Helfrich said Lube On The Move, which opened in May, is on target to change the oil in 200 vehicles this month -- hardly a world record, but enough to show a modest profit. Most of those 200 are commercial cars and trucks.
"We really have no overhead. We've got one truck and a relatively small warehouse," said Helfrich, who heads the promotions department and is a part-time mechanic. "But I have to admit, I haven't drawn a salary yet."
Helfrich, 27, gave up a successful career in radio promotions to start the company. The idea was born in January while Helfrich and his 35-year-old friend, Ed Taylor, were watching the football on television.
"We're sitting there watching a Jiffy Lube commercial and we say to ourselves, 'Wouldn't it be great if they came to your house?' We started thinking about it. It wasn't too much later we made Lube On The Move a reality," he said.
Jiffy Lube, the dean of the express oil change outfits, promises to service a car within 10 minutes. Helfrich said his outfit not only can match the 10-minute time frame, but can work on the car at the motorist's convenience.
"We're after the Jiffy Lube market, we don't deny it. They had a great idea, we've got a better one. Our prices are the same. But with us, we can change the oil in your car at home or while you're at work. That's a big difference."
Helfrich hopes to capture at least 1 percent of the 2.2 million automobile market in the Baltimore area. The Annapolis native said that because of the recent surge in business, plans are under way to purchase a second truck.
"The first thing we stress is a quality oil change and lube," said Helfrich, who is shooting for 6,000 oil changes a year. "The second thing we stress is cleanliness. We can't have our customers ending up with an oil stain in their driveway."