Quick lube financial advice

It’s been over a decade since I took my vehicle to one of those national quick lube franchises for an oil change.  Here’s how I remember my experience.  I arrived a minute before they opened.  Through the garage doors, I could see several guys talking and laughing.  Five minutes later, the door opens, and I drive in.

Tech: “How can I help you today?”

Me: “I’m looking for a new mattress.  Do you sell those here?  Actually, I’m here for an oil change.”

Tech: “Alright.  Do you want 5w30 or 10w30?”

Me: “Whatever you recommend, I guess.”

Tech: “Synthetic or conventional oil?”

Me: “All I want is maximum protection against viscosity and thermal breakdown.”

Tech: “Okay, if you’ll have a seat in our waiting room, we’ll be with you shortly.”

Ahh, the waiting room.  That 6’ x 6’ space where customers share knowing glances, pretend to read two-month-old magazines and think up rebuttals to the inevitable.  After 15 minutes, I hear “Mr. Saa-Venker?”  (Close enough.)  “Mr. Saa-Venker, we gave your vehicle a thorough inspection as you can see from these marks on this piece of pink paper.  We inspected your engine air filtration system, filled your transfer case and differential, and lubricated your chassis.  We also…” (you get the idea).

Then the tech presented me with a list of concerns and recommendations.  “Would you like us to flush your transmission today?”  “Here’s your air filter, and here’s what a new one looks like.”  “Your rear wiper has a small crack in it.  We can replace it for $39.”  Invariably, I replied no to all these solicitations.  I couldn’t figure out if they were truly being helpful, or if they earned a big commission for every additional service they could squeeze out of me.   All I wanted was an oil change.  Why does it have to be such a hassle?  It doesn’t.

Eventually, I found a mechanic I could trust.  He doesn’t try to upsell me on a dozen items every visit.  He doesn’t beat me up with shoptalk.  He doesn’t make me feel like a callous car owner.  As a result, I’ve recommended him to my family and friends, the ultimate sign of approval and satisfaction.

Over the years, P&A has picked up a lot of new clients from the financial advisory version of the quick lube business model.  Sure, their old advisors were nice people, active in their church or community, and for the most part, probably believed they were helping their clients.  But like the quick lubers, they simply had a bad business model.  One that raised doubts rather than engendered trust.  One that felt more adversarial than advisory.  One that extracted more value than it created.

All people want to feel respected, and especially as it relates to their money.  They don’t want to be sold products.  They don’t want to feel like a number.  They don’t want to be talked down to or made to feel stupid.  Why does it have to be such a hassle?  It doesn’t.

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Since 1995, we have existed for one purpose...to help our clients live the life they’ve always imagined. We are a fee-only registered investment advisor (RIA) and a full-time fiduciary, meaning we fight for your best interests day in and day out. Our approach results in shared success.

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