It just occured to me to start searching around for forums discussing the mobile oil change business. It is easy to start thinking you are sailing alone here. I don`t know if you are still looking at this, but I have been in business since April of 2008. I would concur with everything that the above posters said about fleets. I planned to devote 50/50 to fleets and large businesses, but I am finding (at least in my area) that fleets are THE place to start. I still like my employer businesses, but they are slower and more work to get moving.
It looks like you are coming from an adverstising background, that is very good. I found that there are so many levels to marketing this that I had not anticipated. One is getting in the door with the Human Resources and then there is finding a way to market in their business that is not disruptive.
The fleets are easier in the sense that you are dealing directly with the customer, but harder in that it is an all or nothing deal. With individuals you can hope for a few early adopters to spread the word.
If you are in an area that this is new (like here) be prepared to start very slow. I hope to be able to pay my own bills by my anniversary. I have yet to pay myself. I will grant you I have learned alot about my own motivation in this process, but getting people to use it has been much tougher than I anticipated. That said I am convinced it can and will work, it is just a major shift in peoples thinking and that takes time. Keep in mind that I am East coast boy starting a business in the Midwest, so everything feels slow.
The biggest thing I can speak on is the cold. This has been the coldest winter I could imagine. I have worked on a -14 day and I have worked on a -30 windchill day. The main key is to dress warm, warm the cars thoroughly and be prepared to take 3 times as long. I am not going to sugar coat it, it sucks, but I am a bit bull-headed when it comes to giving in. I work outside, the trailers you can pull inside are too big and most lots I work in are already running out of space. Another upside with fleets is that many have shops and may let you work inside!
I started with my suv and a trailer, but I am going soon (as soon as the bank calls me) to buy a used 1 ton van. I HIGHLY recommend a van, buy used if you want to see a profit, but buy a van. I have been hitching to this trailer for 10 months and I could scream. It is hard to take to networking gigs, tough to gain access to many lots, and keeps me out of parking garages. Also it very hard to heat. I set up a propane heater in the front, so that I can take breaks, but that does nothing for my tools. I am hoping that with the van I will at least be able to warm things a little on my way to the jobsite. When it gets extremely cold the air hose couplers start to leak too.
I have a TON of advise I could add to this, but I will wait to see if anyone is listening:-) Check out my website
Sean Shoemaker - Owner
Packerland Mobile Oil Change, LLC
(920) 544-3452 - Phone
(920) 227-4127 - Fax