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Can you tell me a little bit about Fixed Price Car Service?
It’s a market place. We say it makes booking a car service like booking a hotel or a flight. You put in the vehicle that you own which is select from drop downs and then you put in your post code and it will literally reveal a list, a fixed price per mechanic for the service that you require. All we do is we ask the workshops what they charge per hour and what price they want on parts, and that’s how we calculate all the pricing. Our motivation is to create consistency and transparency in the market. That’s the whole offering, you can see what’s involved, how much everything costs, everyone’s reviews and you know what you’re buying.
Do you take a cut somewhere along the way?
Yep, just like Expedia or Wotif, we charge a commission on a completed booking. So it’s free to join the website for workshops and then they only pay a clip on the work that they do.
Do you have all types of mechanics on your site?
Yeah absolutely, we don’t discriminate, our site’s open to everybody so you can have a 50-man dealership or a one-man mobile van. Whether you’re a big brand or a little guy you’re quoting apples to apples on the same job and then it’s up to the customer on whether they want to go with the bigger brand or independent. The big ticket item is that we offer a really genuine reviews platform. Reviews these days are the holy grail of word-of-mouth. On average, our customers spend about 60 to 90 seconds per page but on the workshop profile where they reviews are, they’re spending four or five minutes. Everyone sets their own pricing though, it’s important to know that they set their own pricing.
How do you manage growth?
We’ve got over 1400 mechanics on board now and we’re signing about 50 a week at the moment, so it is growing quickly. There’s 30-odd staff in here. We’ve got a dedicated workshop division, a call centre which is helping people with bookings, then we’ve got an IT and a marketing division.
It’s a real personal service because it’s not like booking a hotel in the sense that you can see pictures of the room. It’s your car, it’s confusing and complicated. Most of the time people don’t know what’s a fair and reasonable price.
How hands on are you as a business owner?
Oh very deeply hands on. I founded it in 2009 and we’re really only hitting our strides now. I’ll be honest, it took a very long time to build up momentum and we probably ran at around 500 workshops for the first five years and that was because we made sure we focused on quality rather than quantity. So we took a long time to get our procedures right, took a long time to get our data base right.
What’s your advice for other aspiring small business owners?
It’s very easy to be focused on the day to day tasks and it’s very overwhelming running a business, because you’ve never truly got the resources around you that you need. But it’s important to know that customers are more researched and have the power of the internet at their disposal everywhere.
Small businesses have to put themselves out on the internet. It’s not as a simple as customers walking through the door anymore. We’re all busy so no-ones checking 50 sites but if you can find a couple of good websites that you can list yourself on, it’s well worth it. For every booking we send one of our workshops, they’re probably getting two or three from people just picking up the phone and saying “hey I saw your price on the internet.”
Every day, KBB’s Dannie Doughan chats with an entrepreneur and features their story on our website. If your business wants a ‘Date with Dannie’, email us a quick bit about your biz!