I had the chance to talk to Andrew Jervis, ClickMechanic’s founder, about what inspired him to create this project, what they offer to customers and mechanics, and how they stay competitive on this highly specialised market.
ClickMechanic’s origin story
A good part of Andrew’s family was involved in the car repair trade: his grandfather was a military mechanic during WWII, his father is the owner of the largest Kia dealership in the UK, and his brother works as a mechanic. Andrew spent time stacking shelves in a garage as a schoolboy. It didn’t take him long to see an opportunity in the automotive space.
Andrew’s masters thesis research at the University of Manchester focused on the automotive repair space. As it turns out, £20bn are spent annually on car repair in the UK. That’s a big market. And yet, 50% of consumers feel like they get ripped off when they have their cars repaired.
That is a huge chunk of the market feeling dissatisfied - and an opportunity. As he was finishing his university thesis, Andrew found the Entrepreneur First tech accelerator in London that partnered with McKinsey. He applied, made it, moved to London and found his co-founders there.
ClickMechanic enables people to get a fixed-price quote for repairs really quickly, without much effort on their part. It’s a solution suited for a modern lifestyle, with a very easy process. The mechanic visits the customer at home or takes their car to the garage. All that’s required of the car owner is a few minutes of typing and clicking, and being there to allow the mechanic access to the car.
ClickMechanic can be a big help for anyone with a car. The company excels at addressing the issues of people aged between 25-45 with cars out of warranty. Sometimes old cars. Another major user group are those who might feel vulnerable going to the garage. They are hit by the jargon, a bit intimidated by their own unfamiliarity with vehicles, so the overall experience just isn’t pleasant for them. They like the nice, clean and simple system of ClickMechanic. The platform’s design is meant not to confuse customers with jargon and to be as straightforward and transparent as possible.
Working with the economy of trust
It’s useful to go back a few steps and find the reason for the problem that plagues the market: the lack of trust between car owner and mechanic. The biggest cause is asymmetry of information. Consumers are often unfamiliar with the inner workings of cars. If you go to a garage, they tell you they’ve identified a problem and fixing it is going to cost a particular amount of money. You have to take their word for it.
Usually, the high price is the right price for the service, but without trust, many people still feel cheated. “I think what happened in the past is that a small minority of garages took advantage of their customers,” says Andrew. “They would overcharge and upsell. This led to a general malaise of distrust towards car repair specialists.”
ClickMechanic’s business model is based on trust. The main premise is fixed price and an upfront online quote. This is completely unique. No one else does upfront quotes for car repair services. Then there’s the simplicity: the mechanic comes to the customer, and the customer doesn’t need to worry about anything. The platform has a fully integrated payments system, which is very convenient to customers.
ClickMechanic is transparent and upfront. They offer fair pricing based on industry standard market data. All mechanics on the platform have to be vetted. ClickMechanic’s team check their qualifications and require at least 5 years of commercial experience. They also mediate in case of any issues, keeping the customer away from any possible unpleasantness. If a mechanic does something wrong, they can expect to be suspended or even banned from the platform.
The mechanics who sign up benefit as well
They have nothing to risk and a lot to gain. The platform is completely free to join, the only requirement is passing the vetting criteria. Mechanics don’t have to take on work if they don’t want to or don’t have the capacity at a given moment – there’s no subscription fee pushing them to do so. The platform offers extra jobs and extra cash – jobs when and where mechanics want them. No need to be a marketing professional to find work, which saves both time and money. And finally, there’s the administration and payments side. ClickMechanic does booking and customer service, which to most garages is an unnecessary expense if done internally.
ClickMechanic gathers 18,000 mechanics on the platform and more are applying every day. That’s a sure sign that what they offer is attractive to everyone involved.
50% cheaper than franchise dealers
On their website, ClickMechanic promises very competitive prices. Their secret? Not much of a secret. Franchise dealers have high labour rates. They sell more expensive parts – parts which, importantly, are not of superior quality compared to most other options. You can get the same quality and warranty elsewhere, just without the manufacturer’s branded logo. ClickMechanic give their customers more value for money and don’t try to be flashy. As simple as that.
As a dynamic technology company, their core business is about building transformative technology and providing amazing, first-class customer support. Both aspects are of equal importance. They want to keep scaling and building a better product.
Getting to where they are today required facing numerous challenges. They still encounter them every day. Hiring talent takes a huge amount of effort and time. As a startup, they’ve raised investment in the past and found out that it’s challenging to convince people that what they’re developing is a real game changer. Building a product that customers want is not easy, either.
The future challenges they expect are the same. People, product, and money - they are what every young business has to fight for.
ClickMechanic’s team use OKR (objectives and key results). They sit down every quarter, decide what objectives they want to hit, and what the key results for them are. This is how they define how much they want to grow by. They talk to the rest of the company, and every team needs to set their own OKR. It’s completely transparent, and everyone holds themselves accountable for fulfilling their goals.
Their current growth strategy is to build a better product that converts more effectively. They also need to acquire more users and grow traffic. The team wants to introduce new features every week and continue improving the platform based on user feedback. They want to build a better user experience for both mechanics and customers, and to improve marketing efforts to bring more people to the site.
Working with software consultants
It’s very hard to hire good technical talent in London – it’s a competitive market and recruiting is time-consuming. ClickMechanic wanted to work more quickly. A member of their team recommended Netguru, as they had cooperated with us previously.
“Netguru are total professionals. The company has excellent processes and communication. I would recommend them to others,” says Andrew. ClickMechanic’s objective was to move quickly and increase their bandwidth. Working with consultants has helped them achieve this without making unnecessary sacrifices.