Mobile automatic maintenance and repair the latest threat to dealerships
Two big American players are leading the charge when it comes to convenient, Uber-style in-home auto maintenance and repair services, and the trend is encouraging auto dealers to consider getting into the game.
“I can see dealerships absolutely offering mobile service,” said Paul Shaw, Ken Shaw Toyota’s primary dealer in Toronto.
YourMechanic.com, a 2012 startup based in Mountain View, Calif., Moved to the Toronto area in early 2019. Like its main competitor, Wrench.com, YourMechanic offers a range of minor repairs for busy car owners. who don’t have time. take their vehicles to a dealership.
Wrench.com, founded in Seattle in 2016, recently purchased Fiix, a Toronto-based startup in 2017, featured on the “Dragon’s Den” TV show.
A GROWING MOBILE TREND
But Toronto is not the only Canadian city to see the emergence of mobile mechanics. More than two dozen mobile auto service companies are said to be operating in cities across Canada.
One is Winnipeg-based GoOil, an aisle-based oil change service started by high school dropout John Sparrow in 2017. It operates in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Alberta, Saskatoon, Sask. ., and Kingston and Brampton, Ont. ., and aspires to expand in the United States.
Operators cite two reasons for the growing popularity of door-to-door service: convenience and price. Stephen Gubasta, chief operating officer, of Mississauga Toyota in Ontario, said mobile services are good for minor jobs, like installing winter tires.
“It’s a convenience,” he says. “Time is money.”
YourMechanic CEO Anthony Rodio said Automotive News Canada that its service avoids the overhead costs associated with a garage, which gives it two advantages: “We pay mechanics more and charge customers less.
Salaries vary by market.
However, YourMechanic does not focus on deep discount prices, he said, instead aiming to deliver quality at a price lower than what franchise dealers charge.
The sample prices displayed on the company’s website ranged from 20 to 25 percent below typical dealer prices.
Rodio said discussions are underway with new and used car dealers in the Greater Toronto Area and with automakers, under which YourMechanic would provide prepaid maintenance services. He would like dealers to see YourMechanic as a complementary service provider rather than a competitor.
‘A MARKET DISRUPTOR’
Daryl Sheridan, director of finance for the Downtown Auto Group in Toronto, said mobile repair services are “just the next step in customer convenience.”
“Later, I could see dealerships offering door-to-door service,” Sheridan said. “He’s definitely a market disruptor. ”
Luxury automakers such as Lexus, Infiniti, and Lincoln have found that customers love the convenience of concierge services where the dealership picks up and returns a vehicle to a home or office. Automakers are poised to take mobile service even further.
In a recent interview, Ford of Canada CEO Dean Stoneley said Automotive News Canada that the company is very responsive to the expectations of millennial buyers, who place a premium on convenience.
“With any disruption, you can see it as a risk or an opportunity,” Stoneley said. Services such as YourMechanic “only meet customer needs, and customers look for more convenience around that experience.”
Ford is conducting a mobile service pilot project in the United States, he said.
Tim Foster, general manager of sales at Downtown Toyota in Toronto, said warranty work often needs to be done at a dealership.
Rodio de YourMechanic has stated that many of his company’s service vehicles are no longer under warranty. The average age of the cars it touches is 11.5 years old, which is roughly the same average age of cars on the road in the United States and Canada.
Self-employed mobile mechanics are increasingly common in major Canadian cities.
Zura Surmava, an unlicensed mechanic, started his one-man mobile repair service in early fall in Toronto and is finding three or four customer days through his ad on the classifieds site kijiji.ca.
Sampooran Singh, a licensed mechanic with 12 years of experience, said he was on his own because “I want to own my own business”.
DOES IT GO IN THE SNOW?
Canada imposes a major drawback on mobile service providers: the weather.
“It all sounds wonderful on a beautiful June day,” Shaw said. “But I was in Winnipeg in September and they got 30 centimeters of snow.
Rodio agreed that no mechanic wants to work in a snowy driveway, but said Canada’s challenge isn’t that different from some places in the United States.
“It’s also not easy to do repairs in Arizona when it’s 130 degrees outside,” he said.
Like Uber, YourMechanic customers can book online and later rate their experience with the mechanic who serviced their car. New customers are offered the highest rated mechanic in their area first, Rodio said. Customers who have used the service in the past can choose a mechanic that they have used before.
However, most dealers are not yet ready to jump into mobile gaming. Gubasta of Mississauga Toyota said a dealership would need a large truck with a full inventory of parts to provide dealer-level service.
“We want to see what the adoption is before we consider buying a big truck,” Gubasta said.