Today I ended up underneath a car, poking at its guts next to mechanic extraordinaire Whitney Ortiz. That’s not exactly where I expected to wind up, visiting a tech conference, but one startup had me on the tarmac, learning about oil changes and how to remove engines:
In my defense, I wasn’t aware that they were taking pictures.
How It Works
Meet YourMechanic, a company that is taking a blend of technology and infusing it into an industry ripe for change. Car maintenance and repair is generally a maddening affair, with opaque pricing, fraud, exceptionally high markup on certain items, and inconvenience.
Taking your car to the dealership is expensive, and out-of-the-way. Even more, according to YourMechanic, despite paying a retail price of up to over $100 an hour for mechanic time, those actually pulling the wrenches can get paid as little as $15 for an hour’s labor. The disparity between fees and pay has many mechanics running their own operations, finding gigs through places such as Craigslist.
YourMechanic solves the problems of auto repair, and the partial solution of mechanics working on their own, and brings their own blend of tech to the table. The startup is a platform for customers to quickly describe their problem, be given a fixed price quote, and then the ability to select a mechanic from the system and a time for the repair. It’s channeling the on-demand juju of Uber and Lyft, if you will.
Here’s the kicker: the mechanic comes to you, so you can set up your air filter replacement to occur while you are at work. The platform directly shows you what parts are required, what you are paying for them, and how much labor will be involved.
And, happily, the mechanics will probably make more money for themselves than they could before, while the customer saves – as the mobile mechanics don’t have the fat overhead of the auto dealership, less can be charged in total, making YourMechanic in fact less costly, and better for all parties.
Well, except your local dealership, naturally, as it stands to lose business. According to its press materials, YourMechanic can be about 20-30% more ‘economical’ than other options, for certain work. Smaller items such as an oil change won’t be priced at a competitive rate.
The company is launching first in San Jose, with plans to expand to San Francisco next.
All told, assuming that YourMechanic’s pricing model, which lets it charge fixed rates for repairs and maintenance works, it could be onto something that will both help consumers, and mechanics. Provided it can profit off the top, its proposition looks like a winning one.
Top Image Credit: LadyDragonflyCC – Happy Labor Day Weekend!!!