Organising a routine car service or auto repairs can bring a certain kind of stress.
Finding a mechanic is easy, but when you do, it’s completely unknown as to whether or not they’re trustworthy. And for those of us without mechanical expertise, it can be difficult to know what pricing to expect, or if we’re being taken for a ride.
When Eden Shirley moved to the Gold Coast in 2009, he was looking for a reputable mechanic to carry out auto services on his Nissan Maxima.
After ringing around a variety of workshops, he was surprised at the varying prices quoted for the same mechanical inclusions.
This got Eden thinking about the way consumers and mechanics communicate with each other and how better transparency could create a more pleasant experience for both parties.
As a digital marketer, he recognised that an online platform could hold the answer. So, he developed AutoGuru (formerly known as Fixed Price Car Service), a website that combines high-tech smarts with down-to-earth service, to connect customers and mechanics, like never before.
“I was determined to make it simpler for the non-mechanically minded, like myself, to easily find, compare and book auto services with trusted mechanics,” he says.
“I mean, the modern engine looks more like a road map of wires in a sea of plastic these days.
“The platform delivers more than 1600 workshops across Australia, and covers parts and service inclusions for 97.3 per cent of cars on our roads.”
Users simply enter their vehicle make, model and kilometres, and basic contact info to view a range of upfront quotes for scheduled car servicing from local workshops and mobile mechanics. You can book on the spot and pay upon pick up.
More complex repair requests are automatically pushed out to the five closest mechanics in the network in a job tendering process. The workshops are then invited to quote the job, request more information direct from the customer, or book an inspection if the job can’t be quoted without physically assessing the vehicle.
The clever business model forms a mutually beneficial relationship between AutoGuru, its network of workshops and Australian motor vehicle owners.
“Navigating a two-sided marketplace is a challenge in itself,” he says.
“With consumers on one side and mechanics on the other, it’s crucial we have total confidence in the quality of workshops we’re recommending to customers.
“That’s where our customer reviews come into their own. They keep our mechanics accountable, and also act as the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth referrals.”
Having recently hit 11,000 customer reviews across their network of mechanics, AutoGuru is now recognised by Google as an authority in the industry and features their customer ratings alongside workshop search results.
“This is a major achievement within the automotive industry and helps to level the playing field for smaller, independent workshops,” says Eden.
Originally known as Fixed Price Car Service, the digital marketplace was built in four months using seed funding from private investors and in December 2014 the company formed a strategic partnership with Super Retail Group, owners of a range of major brands like Supercheap Auto.
Additionally, AutoGuru has teamed up with Uber to help reduce running costs for their 60,000+ driver-partners by offering them great rates on car servicing. The company has since identified a number of partnership opportunities to provide member benefits across a range of industries. This will help accelerate growth and drive more business back to their preferred network of servicing partners.
“Uber has the largest private network of driver-partners in Australia, and AutoGuru delivers the largest national network of mechanics so it made perfect sense to join forces.”
The website experienced 215 per cent year-on-year growth between 2015-2016 calendar year, issuing approximately $7 million worth of quotes per month.
And, 2017 is set to be the company’s biggest year yet, with plans to grow their network of workshops and further expand the team to best suit the company’s changing landscape. A major media launch of the AutoGuru brand is also set to take place in the second half of the year.
“We’re well on our way to achieving what we originally set out to do; to make automotive services easier, fairer and more transparent for both customers and mechanics alike,” says Eden.
See Business Gold Coast for more.