RepairMatch’s marketing and growth lead, Jordy Fujiwara, sat down with Michael Scott to help him understand what the new service was all about.
Michael Scott: Hello! I was disappointed to learn that this wasn’t a dating service for mechanics. Why don’t you do that instead?
Jordy Fujiwara: Well, we started with the idea that a lot of people find it painful to get their car serviced. It’s a real hassle to find a decent, trustworthy mechanic unless you already have one. There didn’t seem to be any online solution for this problem, so we set off to solve it.
MS: I don’t know, I’ve been using this online search program to find things I need. The name escapes me; I’ll have to Google it.
JF: Is it Google?
MS: No, I used Google to find it… hold on… aha! Bing.
JF: …okay, so search engines can only take you so far. Whether it’s Google or Bing, you’ll still have to sort through a list of shops, compare reviews, calculate distance, etcetera. And then there’s still pricing to worry about.
MS: Oh jeez, I hate it when the mechanic screws with you on price.
JF: Exactly. What we’ve done is built a network of the most credible and reliable shops. In order for a mechanic to be part of RepairMatch they have to agree to honour prices, they must be registered with Google Business, have all the appropriate insurance and warranties, and they have to maintain high quality reviews and ratings both on Google and within our own internal rating system. Or else we boot them out.
MS: I see. So if I started my own shop—The Michael Scott Mothers Against Damaged Driving Centre—I wouldn’t be able to sign up for RepairMatch straight away?
JF: Right. You’d need to build up a solid reputation before we let you on. We do offer to help good shops get onto Google Business if they haven’t already, though that’s a different topic altogether.
MS: Alright. So walk me through how a customer who needs their gearbox remixed would use RepairMatch to find a good mechanic.
JF: Um, well, let’s say they need an oil change. Something pretty standard.
MS: Sure, sure.
JF: We strive to make it super simple for the customer. You give us the basic details, which includes the service you’re looking for, what vehicle you drive, your general location, how far you’re willing to travel from your location and the price you’d like to pay. Also the standard name, email and password to create an account.
MS: Wait wait wait, you get to decide how much it costs?
JF: To a degree, yes. We will show you what the average price range is for most services we offer and you can set it however you like. What happens on the other side is all our shop partners can see the list of requests that are in their area. They will pick and choose based on what they want to service… so if you price way too low you’re not going to find anyone willing to do it. Conversely, if you need a job done faster you could try offering more than average to increase the odds that a shop will offer to take on the job. This is the whole “match” process.
MS: That makes sense. And here I was thinking I could get a gearbox remixed for only $500. My guys charged me more than double that.
JF: Oh boy.
MS: They did throw in a free radio calibration.
JF: Are you sure you went to an auto shop?
MS: You’ll have to call Bing.
JF: Uh huh. Okay, so once you receive a match—and we let you know via email or text—you get to review the shop’s rating, location and list of available times. You can accept and pick a time or decline the match. If you decline, your request goes back into the pool. If you accept, we collect a portion of the price as a deposit. The remaining balance is due at the shop. And that’s pretty much it!
MS: I like it. What about once you’re at the shop?
JF: It’s up to the shop to take it from there, but we’ve had feedback from people who’ve enjoyed the fact that they walked into a place they’d never been before and the technician already had all their info, knew what was up, and treated them like they’d had been going there for years.
MS: Okay, so let me ask you this. When I was Regional Manager for Dunder Mifflin Scranton, I was successful in my purpose to be the best boss, and in leading through love and the fear of how much love my employees had for me. What is your guys’ purpose? And how will you be as successful as I was?
JF: That’s a great question, surprisingly. Beyond the actual service of connecting vehicle owners to mechanics, we are truly seeking to bring innovation and technological disruption to an industry that has been a bit slower to make these kind of adaptations. We’ve come a long way for so many other services, such as taxis, online shopping, mobile payments… hell even ordering a pizza online is a snap!
A big hurdle is trust. Mechanics get a bad rap when it comes to trust—if we can help bring more transparency, ease-of-use and education to the whole process I think we’ll be successful in helping transform the industry and achieving our purpose.
MS: There is nothing more depressing than a bad rap.
JF: We’d certainly like to help turn it around!
MS: Thank goodness for Kendrick Lamar.
JF: Wha— oh.
MS: Kendrick’s songs remind me of another important aspect of business success. Customer service. How does RepairMatch handle this?
JF: So, customer service is a core piece of the puzzle for us. We’re new and we’re trying to broker a relationship between a vehicle owner and a mechanic, and we need to make sure both our shops and customers are having the best experience possible. We need to be there when things go wrong and when they go right.
Currently, there are a ton of ways to get in touch! All the instant message systems— be it over Facebook, Twitter or on the chat app right on the site—are tied into our cell phones and a central messaging system so nothing gets lost and we can respond as promptly as possible. And a member of the direct team is always going to be responding back to you, at least for the time being. Often, it’s actually me!
MS: Ah, the personal touch. I myself take great pride in touching people. So we talked about oil changes and gearboxes, what other services do you cover?
JF: We wouldn’t actually get into any gearboxes. For now, the focus is on services that do not require parts, or least not vehicle-specific parts. So we’re talking tire services, glass chip repair, battery replacement, fluid and coolant replacement, detailing, dent fixes, wheel alignments and inspections.
The challenge with something like a ball joint replacement or a strut is that you almost always need to have the car in the shop before a quote can be issued, which defeats the purpose of pricing and booking online.
MS: Hmm, are you going to be able to fix that?
JF: It’s definitely on the roadmap. I absolutely believe it’s a solvable problem. The main thing is in the variability of the situation. Parts pricing isn’t too complicated, but if there’s a layer of rust or something unknown preventing the regular installation of the part—that’s when it gets tricky.
MS: Good luck on that one! What else is on your roadmap?
JF: The biggest thing in the pipeline is something we call “instant match.” If you recall, I mentioned that we send you a notification once you get a match… this is because the shops are reviewing our service list and picking and choosing jobs that fit their criteria. The next logical step is to automate this.
MS: You’re going to use robots to do the work? Whoah.
JF: Well I mean, it’s all code… right now. So not really robots. But what will happen is that the system will be able to offer matches on shop’s behalf, so you’ll know immediately if you can book a time versus having to wait for any notification. AKA instant match.
MS: But what if the robots decide they’re not going to listen?
JF: I… then we’ll take them to robot jail.
MS: Good. And Plan B?
JF: What would you suggest?
MS: I honestly don’t know what could be better than robot jail. It’s a real problem. You’ve got your work cut out for you.
JF: We’re certainly having a lot of fun doing it!
MS: Well thank so you so much for taking the time today to explain RepairMatch. You guys are based out of Toronto, Ontario, right?
JF: That’s right. And you’re welcome, Michael. It was very interesting to finally meet you.
MS: You too! Good luck!