Car Servicing Startups Plan to Make it Big
While most startups operate in one city, they now have plans to enter other markets
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