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Oil Changers future-proofs infrastructure for rapid growth by migrating to Azure

Oil changersDrive Through. Drive Happy

Oil Changers is California’s largest independent fast oil and lube business. Founded in 1984, Oil Changers was one of the first operators to develop the “stay in your car” experience focused on quality, speed, and simplicity. Oil Changers started as a family business with 34 locations before being sold in 2018. Since then, it has expanded rapidly to 115 locations and has plans to quickly get over 200!

Business challenge

Rapid growth can come with its own set of headaches. Inefficient processes that were manageable when a small business can become unsustainable as a bigger business.

Oil Changers existing process involved taking raw data extracts from its POS system and loading them into a database to produce excel reports. The team was constantly reinventing the spreadsheets and coming up with other things that they wanted to see but getting the data was difficult and tedious. This process was manageable at 34 locations but no longer feasible at 115 locations.

As Oil Changers grew over the past few years, it knew it needed to jumpstart its digital transformation journey to maintain a best-in-class customer experience and support future growth.

Quote

The problems that we were facing I think are going to be common at any fast-growing company or private equity backed platform company. When you're growing as fast as we are, there's a lot of different parts of the business that can start showing cracks in the dam, so to speak. We needed to come up with scalable next generation solution so it would stop being a concern for us going forward.

- Kabir Merchant, CFO at Oil Changers

The company’s IT infrastructure was hosted and managed on-premises. In addition to organizing the data, management wanted a way to extract actionable insights on how each store is performing to understand profitability and address shortcomings in real-time. Due to the fragmented architecture across stores, it was difficult for the company to quickly see store level and aggregate KPIs in a consolidated report.

“We had engaged with another company prior to approaching The Zig. That company had very good, very smart people but it was delivering a scope that didn't really get us from A-Z, and frankly came at much higher prices. We would have to take the project the rest of the way, but my team wasn't capable, and when you're talking about small, fast-growing companies, there are going to be gaps in capabilities. We needed a partner that could help fill in some of those gaps and The Zig was a perfect fit,” says Merchant.  

Solution

After reviewing Oil Changers’ existing infrastructure, The Zig’s engineering team determined the best approach was to build a new data warehouse on Azure. The team chose Azure because it offered the smoothest migration path by leveraging the flexibility of Azure Data Factory (ADF) to create Extract Transform Load (ETL) pipelines. The maturity of ADF tooling simplified the process while keeping costs low and manageable. The auto scale pricing (based on consumption) meant Oil Changers could maintain the entire architecture without incurring costs during periods of low use. Once the infrastructure and data were in the cloud, The Zig was able to build real-time analytics dashboards in Power BI.

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The team was very helpful in thinking through multiple approaches. Sometimes when you work with consulting companies, they'll just say this is my solution and I'll just roll it out at every company that I can. Instead, The Zig was very good about thinking through the problem and offering different approaches we can take. It led to a more bespoke answer, but without over engineering it so that it could be easily managed by my IT team.

- Kabir Merchant, CFO of Oil Changers

To prevent disruption to Oil Changers’ existing workflow, The Zig’s architect and engineers used a three-phase approach to deliver the final solution. This ensured that their existing infrastructure was running in parallel with the new Azure infrastructure.

Oil Changers’ on-premises SQL database was migrated to a cloud instance of Azure SQL

Benefit

Migrating to Azure provided flexibility in terms of cost and scalability should the need for more resources arise.
This data was then stored in a data lake that served as a foundation for data warehouse and for data visualization in power BI.

Benefit

Azure Data Factory provides many activities that provide various ETL tools that enable you to manipulate your data in any form. It also supports multiple data source connectors that you can use to ingest data from diverse sources.
This data was then stored in a data lake that served as a foundation for the data warehouse and for data visualization in Power BI

Benefit

By leveraging the combination of ADF and SQL we would efficiently load data in a format that allowed for more efficient analytics, further reducing the reporting gap the previously existed.
The data was migrated into a Data warehouse architecture moving from a traditional relational database model to a star schema to enable much more efficient query for reporting large datasets

Benefit

Power BI makes it easy to bring data to life. Users can connect their data to Power BI and choose from a variety of visualizations (column charts, pie charts, bubble and heat maps, scatter plots, etc.) to tell stories about their data to gain and share insights. Additionally, these visualizations are interactive, which is a huge benefit of Power BI. Consumers can filter reports and dashboards and watch their visualizations adjust and update in seconds to meet their newly applied filter requirements – all to gain more insight from their data. Reports can also be easily shared as they can be distributed via email.
The processed data was then connected to Power BI to generate their reports

Benefit

The Azure Data Lake provided a cheap blob storage resource that allowed the data to be stored and backed up

Results

As a result of working with The Zig to migrate to Azure, Oil Changers has been empowered to take advantage of a cloud-native strategy without the burden of legacy technology.

"We came to The Zig with a digital transformation project that they did a great job on. We can now analyze information we never had time to pull before. We are getting richer insights into how our business is performing and where our opportunities are. I'm really excited about what else we can unlock and use to drive our profitability", said Merchant.

Overall, by engaging The Zig, Oil Changers was able to:

Quote

One report that I used to run when I first started with the company required me to download something for each store from our POS system. At 34 stores it was annoying. At 115 stores, that's a waste of time. So now something that would take hours upon hours is fed to me every morning in an automated solution and requires really no effort on my part.

- Kabir Merchant, CFO of Oil Changers

By collaborating with The Zig and building on Azure, Oil Changers has a new infrastructure and is prepared for their next phase of growth.