In today’s world, it is rare to see someone pass by without their smartphone glued to their hand. As a matter of fact, 77 percent of American consumers now own a smartphone device. Smartphones are invading every aspect of our lives it seems - the way we order food, drive, date, even the way we sleep. And now, smartphone apps are even changing the way consumers get their cars repaired.
The reality is that people don’t just want things done fast, they expect it. They also want to accomplish tasks by putting in the least amount of effort possible. To add to that point, it is also a reality that many people dislike going to the auto repair shop, and many times they don’t trust shops. According to a AAA survey, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general - citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence.
With this being the reality, why can’t hassle-free car maintenance with the convenience of not even leaving your driveway be an option?
The New Reality
Thanks to a few start-up technology companies, this is now a reality. For example, Wrench is a smartphone app that offers customers a membership for a quarterly maintenance stop from a certified Wrench mechanic at their home or work. If a specific repair is needed, Wrench will give the customer a quote before the service, which will be the price that the customer will pay.
The good news for auto shops is that the majority of repairs done by companies like Wrench are simple tasks that be done without a shop. This includes diagnostics, car inspections, oil changes, tire rotation, etc. When a more complicated repair is needed, Wrench refers drivers to a network of partners. In other words, more complicated car repairs will still have to be done at a local repair shop. With this becoming our new reality, should your shop consider becoming a recommended partner with on-demand mechanic apps?
At the same time, with more people using these apps for convenience and actually taking preventative care for their car, will there be a lower need for complicated repairs?
Auto shop owners may also worry about employee retention when considering these apps as a source of competition. Could current employees potentially leave auto shops to work as a traveling mechanic? At this point in time, it seems that mechanics are treating these jobs as side-jobs and not full-time opportunities. Wrench requires that its employees have the following qualifications:
- At least 3 years of work experience or equivalent training
- A working vehicle, valid driver’s license and insurance
- Your own tools
- Good references
- Clean background check
- Professional and friendly attitude
- Desire to make customers happy
Sounds like your reliable mechanics, huh?
When Will These Apps Take Over Your City?
Currently these apps are only available in certain states, or even smaller locations. There is the chance that with a growing popularity of these types of services that availability will spread quickly.
Also, in the current markets that on-demand mechanics are offered, corporate clients, such as Lyft, are one of the main audiences. For example, Wrench offers inspections for new Lyft drivers before they are onboarded in that market. If other big companies start offering on-demand mechanics as a service to their employees, some of your current customers may be stolen away because of the mere convenience of mobile mechanics.
What Should You Do?
In order to compete and stay ahead, it is important for auto repair shops to advertise special offers on the preventative services that on-demand mechanic apps are offering. Get customers into your shop now, and create a relationship with them so they come back because they trust your services.
Another option (if you are a fan of the shift to the web and are open to a little change) is for your auto shop to start offering at-home repairs. Why not bring the mechanics that your customers trust right to their driveways?
When it comes to your mechanics, you should also make sure that you are retaining your employees and they aren’t running off to become an on-demand mechanic. Check out our recent blog, Employee Turnovers: An Auto Shop’s Nightmare to learn some tips on how to retain your employees.
As always, it is crucial for your shop to stay aware of the ever-changing world of technology. By doing so you will be able to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive with whatever futuristic technology is thrown your way.
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