Car Ser­vic­ing Star­tups Plan to Make it Big

While most star­tups op­er­ate in one city, they now have plans to en­ter other mar­kets

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Priyanka.San­gani @times­group.com

Pune: A few years ago when Ab­hi­jit Sax­ena's car met with an ac­ci­dent, he went to the au­tho­rised ser­vice cen­ter and was told it would cost him .₹ 1.5 lakhs to get it fixed. “It seemed steep so I asked them to re­view it; 45 min­utes later, they said .₹ 3.5 lakh,” he said. At his driver’s in­sis­tence, he had a neigh­bour­hood me­chanic take a look at it and got it fixed at a frac­tion of the sug­gested cost. This even­tu­ally led to him co­found­ing Zon­nett, a ve­hi­cle main­te­nance com­pany that acts like a mar­ket­place for lo­cal garages.

Car main­te­nance star­tups are com­ing up in var­i­ous cities, with ev­ery­one us­ing tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate busi­ness mod­els that are sim­i­lar, but not quite the same. Sax­ena said, “We send the cus­tomer mul­ti­ple quotes and he can look at the ser­vice rat­ings of the garages be­fore se­lect­ing one. It’s a hy­per­local price dis­cov­ery model aimed at bring­ing in trans­parency into the process.”

Pune-based CarOk started out as a sub­scrip­tion-based car ser­vice club, but piv­oted last year to tap into the broader car ser­vic­ing mar­ket. Jaideep Patil, mar­ket­ing head, CarOK said, “We’ve switched to an on-de­mand model where peo­ple can reach us through our web­site or a hotline. Our ser­vice ad­vi­sor will come home to di­ag­nose the prob­lem and then get back to them with three quotes — from an au­tho­rised ser­vice cen­ter, a multi-brand out­let and a lo­cal garage.” Af­ter this, it’s up to the cus­tomer to de­cide which he op­tion he’d pre­fer. The com­pany also of­fers an­nual main­te­nance con­tracts.

Across cities, there are some star­tups that are work­ing only to ag­gre­gate the au­tho­rised ser­vice providers while some are work­ing only with un­or­gan­ised lo­cal garages. For now, most of th­ese re­main sin­gle city oper­a­tions, and while most have plans to en­ter other mar­kets, how suc­cess­ful they’ll be re­mains to be seen. Mo­toMojo, among the newer com­pa­nies in this space cur­rently op­er­ates in Mum­bai (in­clud­ing Navi Mum­bai and Thane) and is work­ing on an app-based on-de­mand hy­per­local model. The com­pany con­nects cus­tomers to ser­vice providers through the app, and de­pend­ing on the na­ture of the re­quest, it will get in­volved in the trans­ac­tion. Founder Ut­tam Ar­jun said, “Whether you want to get your tyres changed, car ser­viced or cleaned, we’ll use GPS to show you the clos­est op­tions.” The com­pany on­boarded 2,500 garages at the end of a 3.5 month process and is now look­ing at ex­pand­ing into two more cities this year.

“It is a chal­leng­ing cat­e­gory as it hasn’t evolved too much,” said Ar­jun, adding that get­ting the garage own­ers on-board is not an easy process. It is po­si­tion­ing it­self as an ex­pert who can guide and hand­hold cus­tomers through car main­te­nance re­lated de­ci­sions, given that most peo­ple will sim­ply do what­ever the ser­vice cen­ters sug­gest with­out ques­tion­ing it. For now, most com­pa­nies earn a com­mis­sion from the garages on the re­fer­rals they make, but are look­ing at other ways to up rev­enue.

Most cos earn a com­mis­sion from the garages on the re­fer­rals they make, but are look­ing at other ways to in­crease rev­enue

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