Years ago, I remember my father taking advantage of Heartland Car Care’s Saturday hours, the local shop that serviced our minivan in our rural Iowa community. The mechanics were knowledgeable and quick; Kent who ran the place greeted everyone with a smile and was thorough when he went over repairs.
The service was friendly, the coffee was hot, and the Saturday hours were convenient.
Winds of Change
In this digital and modern age, YourMechanic is the equivalent of Heartland Car Care. Just as we had the number written down on the pad by the phone, YourMechanic is accessed through today’s smartphones. Their specialty is mobile car repair, covering over 600 maintenance and diagnostic services. YourMechanic is available in the top 50 largest cities in the United States, and are as remarkably accessible today as Heartland Care Care was in its time with Saturday hours.
Companies like YourMechanic have capitalized from an evolving need – perhaps even a longing for – a different type of car ownership experience. People want a place as inviting as Heartland Car Care, yet able to meet them on the go in today’s increasingly mobile culture.
“The whole auto industry is in a massive transformation right now so it’s just not like it used to be,” said Anthony Rodio, President & CEO, YourMechanic. “And that is the sort of thing we want to talk about and cover.”
Transform Versus Transaction
YourMechanic is facilitating such discussions on Thursday, March 30th in Sunnyvale, California, as they present a conference dedicated to the ever changing relationship we have with our vehicles. Driving the Auto Industry Forward: Transforming the Car Ownership Experience will unite automotive industry experts who are disrupting and dissecting every aspect of vehicle ownership. Together with Ally Financial, Automobility LA, eBay Motors, and Turo, YourMechanic’s forum addresses the opportunities and challenges with regard to the 200 million plus car owners today.
“From my view, the biggest benefit is that we are getting some interesting companies to take part in something that is really big and significant for the industry,” Rodio said. “Unfortunately, these things are not really being served by the traditional media.”
Rodio is joined during the evening’s panel discussion by Angie Tuglus, Executive Vice President & COO, Ally Insurance, David Stewart, Chief Business Officer, Turo, and Sree Menon, General Manager of Parts and Accessories for eBay Motors. One of the primary questions is how customer behavior has changed in the last two years and how these companies are responding accordingly.
“It is amazing to see how customers across all ages and backgrounds have converged in their expectations: everyone is demanding a digital, fast, and transparent experience,” Tuglus noted. “We want to feel in control, and get everything on demand.”
Tuglus believes successful companies in the automotive arena will be able to make critical decisions regarding how customers think and feel.
“Product and service providers in the auto space are traditionally good at studying features and prices, but poor at truly understanding where and how a customer wants to interact with a service or product,” she explained. “And that’s the paradigm shift we’ve been making.”
Turo is the largest P2P car sharing marketplace, helping owners take otherwise depreciating cars and turn them into money making assets. This service is excellent for those who have a car just sitting most of the time. It wasn’t all that long ago, services like this were unheard of, yet the ways of our lives are evolving and companies like Turo saw an opportunity to capitalize on a growing trend.
Similar to how YourMechanic will do in Sunnyvale, Turo also facilitates dialogue on how car ownership is changing.
“In addition to reviewing customer feedback on a regular basis, we host community events in our top markets to ensure that we are meeting our Turo members and listening to their ideas and suggestions,” the company said in a recent statement.
Another topic of discussion focuses on how the process of purchasing a vehicle is changing. Will the car owner of tomorrow want to purchase said car in the traditional sense?
“There is a huge gap between customer awareness and where digital auto buying has evolved to – a large percentage of consumers across the country, and around the world, would like to buy their vehicle online,” Tuglus said. “Your average consumer either has no idea this is possible, or is not sure it is safe and legitimate, and this creates a massive opportunity for companies or car dealers who can bridge this gap.”
The Sunnyvale event includes an exhibit of up-and-coming startups who are transforming car ownership. Founders of these companies will be available to demonstrate their products and solutions that ultimately change the way we view our relationships with our cars.
“There are a lot of people interested in what is going to be happening five to seven years from now,” Rodio said. “In my opinion, there is no better indicator of where markets are going than by looking at the companies that are starting and getting funded here in Silicon Valley.”
LotBlok, Prazo, Selly Automotive, SHIFTMobility, and other startups will be on hand.
“This is an interesting way to synthesize, in one place, where some areas of investment are in the car ownership ecosystem,” Rodio said.
YourMechanic’s forum will take place at the Plug and Play Technology Center in Sunnyvale, California, Thursday, March 30th. Automotive and mobility industry professionals, venture capitalists, startup founders, and OEM and aftermarket suppliers can register here for the free event. The evening gets underway at 6pm with registration, happy hour, and a photo opportunity with “Aviato” from the TV series Silicon Valley. The panel discussion begins at 7pm with social time and networking to follow at 8pm.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.