I enjoy talking, and reading about the subject of disruptive technology. Doom and gloom maybe, but interesting. I have heard lots of predictions about the auto aftermarket repair industry. And, I do agree that one day, driverless cars (provided by Lyft, Uber, Google, or Apple) will become the norm. These companies will build fleets of driverless cars, and there will be no need for an individual to own a car anymore. By then, most of us will be working from home, and we will be able to press a button for an empty, driverless car (so that I don’t have to sit next to some stranger) to pull up, take us to the grocery store, and then drive us home (although, we won’t even need that because grocery stores are starting to do the delivery model again). I think this may be ten years out or so, but what happens sooner than that?
I believe a disruption will come with parts and service straight to a consumer through an auto service app. “Wow, Chris, that isn’t profound…” Let me explain. Sure, AutoZone sells parts straight to the consumer, and, sure, mobile mechanics have been around forever, but no one has made the correct formula yet. We have had taxis forever, but that didn’t stop Uber from killing that market. YourMechanic, a mobile mechanic platform, just received several million dollars in seed money from outside investors. I see Amazon selling parts and tires and have been watching them slowly push into the service side of things. OpenBay and others are trying to deliver service to a consumer through their apps in a convenient way.
Let’s be truthful, I don’t care how clean your shop is or how “great” your customer service is, your customer doesn’t want to see your repair shop. It is a HUGE inconvenience. And if I, as a consumer, can have my part drop-shipped to me through Amazon to my house, and then select one of five mechanics who will come to my house to put it on at my convenience, then I am almost 99% sure that would be your customer’s choice; I know it would be mine. You can see it happening with tire manufacturers; they are all building sites now to sell straight to consumers. I know Tirerack has been around for many years, so this is nothing new, but the bigger guys are doing it now. Goodyear just announced last year that it is going straight to consumers, and it is a huge supplier for the aftermarket. Sure, they don’t offer service at your doorstep yet, but it will happen.
What happens to my shop when and if this all goes down? Good question. Hopefully we will evolve with the times; if not, we will fade away like so many others…”It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Architect/President at autoflow.com
As an auto repair shop owner of Golden Rule Auto Care, Chris Cloutier realized the need for a better way to communicate with his customers as he observed how communication gaps created bottleneck situations and wasted valuable rack time. With 20+ years experience as a software developer including employment stints at Southwest Airlines and Wyndham International, Chris had seen the benefits of the marriage of software and customer service. With the entrepreneurial passion to create an innovative solution to solve a common industry problem, Chris designed autoflow, a tool that dually functions as a visual workflow management system and as a means for keeping customers engaged and informed by providing status updates throughout the stages of the vehicle repair process. Click here to read more...