The excitement was palpable; I was all smiles when my dad gave me the key to my new bike. It felt like I was given the key to an all new life full of fun, freedom and independence. It’s a memory I cherish even today and I’m sure 23 Million other Indians would’ve shared similar sentiments this year. In India, a new bike is sold every 2 seconds; a new car every 12 seconds.
Growing at a rate of 10.5% YOY in the last decade, the Indian Automobile industry is one of the largest in the world. While there is a lot of talk about the Automobile industry, the Automobile Service industry is largely kept in obscurity. But of late, there are some fundamental changes happening in the Automobile Service space. Though a lot of these changes can be attributed to the rapid growth of internet penetration and smartphone usage in recent years, it’s also a sign of new entrants gearing up to disrupt this industry by leveraging technology.
One of the early trends that’s happening now is making the whole automobile service experience seamless and hassle-free – right from discovering a trusted and credible service center to getting the vehicle delivered back after service completion. A vehicle owner doesn’t need to check the service booklet and call up the service center to book a service anymore; he/she can do that at a single tap on his/her mobile screen. Vehicle owners can discover service providers in the vicinity, compare them based on price and book the service directly. After booking the service, they can view and track the status of the service booking real time, get the cost estimate for the service, chat with the service expert at the service center, know the estimated date and time of delivery and can also pay via the mobile phone after service fulfillment. Even some of the service needs which require immediate assistance like breakdown or tyre punctures are being handled by identifying the vehicle owner’s GPS coordinates. By knowing the exact location, it’s possible to send out a trained mechanic available close by to assist immediately. Imagine the time and effort that’s saved.
The biggest challenge in this industry, as perceived by vehicle owners, is information asymmetry. More often than not, vehicle owners feel that they’ve been meted out a raw deal by the service provider and they feel helpless. This challenge is being addressed at multiple levels. Having user generated reviews and ratings for each service center under different parameters is one solution. Getting accurate quotes for a specific repair job from many service centers even before commencing service and choosing the best one is another. Equipping users by providing interactive and engaging content about their vehicles and their needs is one another solution.
On the other hand, service centers are also reinventing themselves to cater to the needs of the internet-savvy customers. While some can afford to spend time and money on building an online presence and ramping up technology, that’s not the case with all service centers. Here’s where a common level-playing technology platform that caters to everyone in the ecosystem to market their offerings, showcase their quality and engage their customers will play a pivotal role.
Exciting times for the Auto Service industry are here again and for people who are involved in this hands-on, I’m sure the excitement is palpable.
Sundar Natesan, Co-Founder, GoBumpr!
Currently available in Chennai, GoBumpr! is the one stop mobile app for all Car Service and Bike Service needs – from booking a scheduled service to getting on-the-road breakdown & tyre puncture assistance 24×7!