December 3, 2023

In December of 1983, with the introduction of the Maruti 800, India’s obsession with Authorised Service Centers (ASCs) started. Before that time, the Ambassadors, as well as the Padminis, were not often serviced by ASAs, and independent garages had the upper hand when it came to servicing cars.

Car owners loved the thought of knowing that their vehicles were serviced by ASCs who were trained and equipped by the manufacturers; over time, the relationship began to fall apart, especially after cars had completed their warranty. As vehicles grew old and required more attention as they wore out their usefulness, overselling and upselling billing became the top complaints of customers. Service advisors who were rewarded for meeting the targets only made matters more difficult. What made customers go to independent garages in hordes, as their parents did? What did they do wrong with independent garages?

The solution could be summarized in a single word: trust. Or lack of.

Brands are the source of trust that is required to purchase any service or product. When a consumer gives his vehicle to an ASC, the trust is placed on the manufacturer to safeguard his rights. But, in the case of independent garages, is brand protection possible?

Yes, according to the first successes of the new kind of car Servicing startups. They’re from those brick-and-mortar third-party franchised service centers that are found throughout the Western world and which, by the way, did not function in India. With the smallest expenditure on infrastructure, these new breeds of car servicing startups are changing the game, and customers appear to love the concept.

It’s not a secret that the market is massive. According to estimates from industry experts, the Indian automobile servicing industry is anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 crores annually (USD 3-4 billion). Some reports suggest it could be even more, at 75,000 crores (USD 11 billion).

What exactly is it that makes automotive service startups change their business model? First of all, they’re not pursuing “solved problems’ like setting up supply chains for spare parts or even establishing their infrastructure for service centers. Instead, they’re filling in the huge gaps that exist at the end of the spectrum for customer service of the spectrum. They offer a “better than ASC experience” with no “the expenses of the costs of an ASC’. What are these gaps?

1. Technical Expertise:

In the midst of a massive shortage of skills, Independent garages are forced to work using untrained workers, who are trained on the floor of the shop. ASCs do better in this area, but there are still areas for improvement that are in place. Successful startups are employing highly skilled Technical Advisors with extensive expertise in the field and connecting them to their corporate culture.

2. Quality:

Customers needing to be forced to “go for a second visit to a service centre with the same issue” is a huge source of pain. Startups are constructing databases for known errors that, in a way, borrow from ITIL terminology (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and ensuring that known issues are addressed more effectively. They’re also working on resolving the problem the first time since the experience can have a huge impact on the level of customer satisfaction.

3. Ethics:

Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle and attempted to have it serviced understands that the field is plagued with unprofessional methods. It can be anything from exploiting customers’ ignorance to convince them to buy a new assembly and charging a more expensive price for a certain labor line item. There are a myriad of landmines that every car owner must navigate. Being ethical in this kind of environment is not just a moral decision; it is an advantage for businesses.

4. Convenience:

Even though “free pickup and delivery” has been around for some time cus, customers would like to get the “entire experience” on their smartphone, right within their reach. Innovative startups can handle everything from booking services, vehicle pickup, alerts on progress estimation approvals, close live updates with pictures and videos, Quality management, dropping, and payment that is entirely online. This is exactly what consumers would like.

5. Brand (Trust ):

All of it is a matter of this. The branding. Customers cannot be confident in an independent service center because of the complexities small-scale enterprises are susceptible to. From employee turnover to the owner getting sick every day is alike at an independent garage. Brands guarantee customers sameness and, most importantly, confidence. In contrast to ordering pizza or booking a taxi, the client is handing over his costly assets to the service center. The value of the belief that the Brand Brand can provide cannot be overemphasized.

With more than 10 million passengers in cars residing in major Indian cities, The market potential is huge if one is able to get the pulse of the consumer just right. The latest generation of companies appears to be doing exactly what they claim to do.

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