The average cost to fix a check-engine related problem was $367.84 nationwide last year according to a recent CNBC study. New Jersey drivers paid even where the average cost for a repair of $392.99 was the nation's highest. At the same time according to an IBISWorld industry report, the last five years overall auto repair industry revenue has declined at an annual rate of 2 percent to $30.3 billion.
An industry can respond in any combination of three ways: raise prices, and risk losing customer base to do-it-yourselfers or independent mechanics, do nothing (yes, that's very much an option), or somehow cut costs. A technologically antiquated, hodgepodge network of suppliers, carriers, and service points, the automotive repair industry is ripe with opportunity for cost cutting. New operational efficiencies through social media, cloud computing, and mobile devices can simultaneously cut costs, drive greater throughput, and produce greater customer satisfaction.
Otozip knows this. Demonstrating their solution at Tech Crunch Disrupt this week, the company hopes to establish a new, nationally networked scheduling and supply system that will have mechanics spending more time in the auto bays, and less time on the phone. Otozip positions itself as a completely integrated CRM and marketing system uniquely designed to make it easy for consumers to find reliable, nearby automotive service centers.
Technorati was granted a product preview where learned more about the company's ambitions In a written interview with the company's founder and CEO, Stewart Padveen.
Andre Bourque: Tell me about the real market opportunity here.
Stewart Padveen: There are over 400,000 service centers in the United States alone, yet over 90% of them are still virtually invisible online. Independent service centers, franchises and dealers face increased competition from each other. Empty bays cost money. While dealers often have greater financial resources than independent service centers, the internet is leveling the playing field.
Furthermore, over 1.2 billion automotive service appointments are booked every year, most still by phone. This steals valuable time from service center personnel and often leads to “booking frustration” among customers who have to wait on hold and negotiate convenient times to drop off their vehicle.
Bourque: So what's Otozip plan to do about it?
Padveen: We're an entirely brand new marketing channel for the automotive service industry.
It’s a completely integrated and incredibly easy-to-use CRM and marketing system uniquely designed to make it easy for consumers to find reliable, nearby automotive service centers and helps service centers fill their slow appointment times, manage appointments and increase customer retention.
Bourque: What was your "ah-ha" moment for the product?
Padveen: After going back and forth with my automotive service center for three days (for real!) to book a routine oil change, getting transferred to voicemail, having to call during the service center’s open hours, negotiating for a convenient appointment time, only to show up and find out the service center forgot to schedule me because their “pen and paper” system was a mess, I decided there needs to be a better way. I wanted to be able to find reliable, nearby service centers online and book an appointment instantly – 24/7. I also wanted to see prices and real reviews from actual customers.
Bourque: What do you want investors, disruptors, and technology enthusiasts to know about Otozip?