Training Top 125 Best Practice: Leadership Development at Valvoline Instant Oil Change

The leadership development process starts at the senior technician level, a position that provides significant floor-level leadership and often covers shifts as the senior person in the store.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change (VIOC) created a leadership development process to enable the expansion of the system by way of organic growth, new store builds, acquisitions, and franchise growth. 

Training Details

The process starts at the senior technician level, a position that provides significant floor-level leadership and often covers shifts as the senior person in the store. Before promotion to senior technician, team members undergo 220 hours of training focusing on key skills necessary for the position, including leadership and management abilities. The blended program includes a full-day “Leadership Bootcamp” experience, focusing on peer/subordinate relationships, coaching, floor management, delegating, problem solving, and the financial impact of supervision. Team members are promoted to senior technician after an interview with their store and area managers. As a result of the program, VIOC promoted 1,511 senior technicians in 2017, up from 960 the previous year (+57 percent), which was up from 810 the year before that (+19 percent).

Team members who continue on the path toward management enter the Assistant Manager program, a blended program of classroom training, e-learning, and manager-led training covering developing people, managing customer satisfaction, managing the sales function, scheduling labor, managing inventory, and executing the training program for new employees. 

Assistant managers are selected by their area manager to enter the Service Center Manager development program, which consists of a series of manager-led experiences, e-learning, and three classroom courses taught in the local market. These courses focus on communication skills, developing the store team, setting standards, and maintaining accountability. 

Team members who complete these courses interview with a team of area managers and a market manager. Those who are selected are invited to attend the three-day Introduction to Management (ITM) experience at the corporate office. ITM includes significant time with the company president and vice president of Operations; classroom time around clean, safe, and legal management and situational leadership; a tour of the headquarters building; a visit to the motor oil formulation laboratory; and visits from leaders of key functions. 

Classroom time is observed by a market manager and team of two trainers who provide feedback on engagement and professionalism. Upon the completion of the ITM experience, candidates debrief with their market manager and receive a job title change that marks them as “on the bench” and awaiting a manager opening. 

Six months after promotion, managers are invited back to headquarters for the two-day Managing People and Performance experience, which includes Myers-Briggs personality types; coaching; and more time with the president, VP of Operations, and other leaders. 


The program has been successful for many years. In 2017, 117 managers were promoted, up 96 from the previous year (+22 percent), which was up from 67 the year before that (+43 percent). In addtion, bench strength stands at 78, up from 63 the previous year (+24 percent). This strong leadership pipeline has fueled store growth, which climbed from 1,118 to 1,160 in 2017 (+4 percent), which was up from 1,052 (+6 percent) the year before that. The company has entered six new markets over this time period, seeding each one with existing talent. Talent is exported to the franchise system, as well. Exported talent now leads seven key systems representing 43 percent of franchise locations. 

Even with this growth, VIOC has continued to produce internal talent to meet 100 percent of its need. VIOC has not hired an external service center manager in five years. 


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