by Ed Newman
Marketing & Advertising Manager, AMSOIL INC.

Making measurements and measuring things is something we have done since the beginning. For example, it has been written that the world was created in seven days, the traditional unit of time marked by one rotation of the Earth on its axis. Of course, I will readily acknowledge that there is some disagreement on what this really means, since it says in another place that a day is like a thousand years, or vice versa.

To get more specific, and that's what measuring is all about, the actual length of a day is 23 hours 56 minutes and four seconds. Over a period of four years these increments are assembled to create the leap year adjustment known as February 29th. (To be absolutely precise there are also occasional "leap seconds" added periodically to keep things tidy. I'd bet you didn't know that.)

It is quite amazing how many kinds of measures there are. We have measures of time, such as weeks, hours, minutes, and years. We have measures of mass, such as grams, pounds and tons. We have measures of sound volume, of energy, of radioactivity, of pressure, of typefont sizes, of land mass, and of speed.

A bolt is a measurement of finished cloth. A board foot is a unit of volume for measuring lumber. (Bored feet is what you get when you're not dancing.)

A breve is a standard unit of relative time in music, equivalent to the length of two whole notes. Bushels are measurement units for dry
commodities such as grains or fruits. In 1303 King Edward I defined a bushel as 8 gallons. A byte is a unit of information equal to eight bits in computer engineering.

Automotive Related Measurements
Horsepower, as you might guess, is the amount of power exerted by one horse pulling. After many careful measurements James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, determined that a horse can lift 550 pounds at a rate of one foot per second, which translates into 745.7 watts. Some clever American engineers decided that manpower should have a measurement as well, equivalent to 0.1 horsepower or 74.57 watts.

MPG is the familiar acronym for miles per gallon, which measures the rate of fuel consumption in a motor vehicle. One mile per gallon equals approximately 0.4252 kilometers per liter. In most other countries the measure is actually liters per hundred kilometers.

MPH is our common measure of speed. One mile per hour equals 22/15ths feet per second or 1.609 kilometers per hour or 0.447 meters per second. I can tell why Americans balked at the idea of going metric. We'd have a hard time figuring out how fast we're going.

RPM means revolutions per minute, a unit of frequency as a measure of rotation rates in mechanics. In cars RPM is measured by a tachomoter. Some motorists pay attention to RPM so they don't overrev and cause component failure. Race car drivers try to keep RPM rates in a range that will provide maximum power.

Oil Measures
Quart Unit of volume, so named because it represents one quarter of a gallon. When measuring liquid, one quart is 32 fluid ounces, or 57.75 cubic inches. On the other hand, when measuring dry goods like pecans or blueberries, a quart is 67.201 cubic inches. Go figure.

Drums are sometimes used for measuring oil, containing 55 U.S. gallons or about 208.198 liters. Drums are not the same as barrels, the standard unit of volume for measuring petroleum. One drum is equivalent to 1.3095 barrels. A barrel is equivalent to 42 U.S. gallons, which is coincidentally the same size as a traditional wine barrel, more commonly called a tierce. Strangely enough, a barrel of beer is only 31 gallons and the guy who shows up with it is usually the life of the party.

Other Interesting Measurements
The 6th Annual Consumer Attitude Study, June 2002 Aftermarket Business, produced some interesting measurements.

When asked what the top three reasons consumers purchased a specific oil, 26% said they prefer synthetic or synthetic blend. This is huge. I remember the 1980's when the average motorist usually did not even know what a synthetic oil was. Now, we have nearly a quarter of all motorists in this survey seeking it.

In the same survey, 44% made their oil selection choice based on recommendations by others, including professional mechanic (18%), personnel at place where purchased (14%), family or friends (12%) or from amateur mechanic (4%). In short, the numbers show that we have influence.

Here were some additional numbers from those who preferred synthetic or synthetic blend oil. When asked why they prefer synthetic or synthetic blends, 54% said better performance. 31% said excellent value, even at a higher price. 23% choose synthetic for the reduced engine wear. 15% noted that less frequent oil changes were one of the reasons they liked the new high tech oils. 23% said that these oils were recommended to them by a dealer or mechanic. (Respondents were permitted to check more than one answer.)

Measuring Success
And finally, we have measures of success. It is not enough to just measure everything. What's important is measuring the right things. In baseball, what's important is runs, not the number of swings. Batters measure their hitting percentage because it has a bearing on the game's outcome. Scorekeepers don't really care how many times you swing the bat, but rather how often you hit the ball and safely reach a base.

Measuring car counts in quick lubes is akin to measuring swings instead of hits in baseball. The real measure of a successful quick lube operation is profits. Promoting extended drain intervals with properly priced premium synthetic motor oils satisfies the customers' desire for convenience and protection while providing you with the cashflow that keeps you in business.

If you make ten dollars profit on fifty cars or twenty dollars profit on twenty-five cars, it looks like the same amount of profit. But you have done half the work and freed up time and bays to widen your customer base. By creating extra capacity with less effort, you've added greater value to your operation.

Promoting synthetic motor oils will open doors. It's right for your customers and it's right for your bottom line.

Article originally appeared in National Oil and Lube News, October 2002

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