YourMechanic: Uber for Auto Repair
The automotive repairs industry is massive but incredibly fragmented. In the US, there are over 250,000 maintenance services and auto repair businesses earning a combined $57B in revenue each year. From a consumer’s perspective, the process of getting your car fixed is extremely painful– you often have to make do without your car for days (and arrange a ride to and from the repair shop), there are very few trusted chains, and prices are opaque and sometimes untrustworthy. The traditional value chain is tough for mechanics as well. They are responsible for purchasing their own tools (which can cost $16,000-20,000 altogether), and most of the margin on services is pocketed by repair shop owners rather than the mechanics doing the actual work.
Enter YourMechanic, a website and mobile app for auto repair. You submit the make and model of your car, the reason for the service, and your contact info. YourMechanic provides you with a guaranteed upfront price quote for parts and services, at which point you can book an appointment for a mechanic to fix your car in your own garage or driveway.
The value proposition to consumers is compelling and simple:
- Quality: YM works with over 1,000 certified mechanics who have have been screened extensively and have an average of 10 years of experience. Trust is a huge part of the YM promise: they provide a 12-month or 12,000 mile guarantee (whichever comes first) for any service provided by their mechanics.
- Convenience: Mechanics come to you and are available from 7am to 9pm, 7 days a week. Scheduling and payment is done through the app. After the service is complete, YourMechanic provides you with a digital 50-point diagnostic report on your car and reminds you when you’re due for maintenance.
- Consistency: YM mechanics wear YourMechanic uniforms and can provide up to 150 different services. Scrupulous customers can log on to YM’s website to read dozens of reviews and even view profiles of individual mechanics.
- Value: No more rip-offs or black-box quotes– YM pricing is transparent, fair, and persistent across customers.
YM also provides significant value to mechanics. Unlike traditional repair shops, where mechanics often work long hours (of which only a fraction are “billable”), YM allows mechanics to schedule and anticipate work. YM handles the burden of aggregating repair demand and gives mechanics much-needed flexibility, since all they need are their tools and a mobile phone to participate. Most importantly, YM lets mechanics keep 100% of the fees for services rendered, instead earning revenue from 20-30% commission on the auto parts necessary for repair.
YourMechanic’s business model and operating model are highly aligned. While the primary cost drivers for repair shops are equipment and labor, YM’s main assets are its network of mechanics and its iOS mobile app. Since YM does not operate physical retail locations and the majority of mechanics own their own tools, YM is able to address large geographic markets with their distributed work force while maintaining extremely low overhead. Their mechanics are independent contractors, so mechanics are only paid when YM converts a customer. YM’s minimal operating costs also allow them to pay their mechanics 3-4x more than their competitors while still passing along meaningful savings (up to 50%) to end-consumers. This advantage helps YM attract and retain high-quality mechanic talent.
Thanks to their low-cost structure and lightweight infrastructure, YourMechanic has been able to scale fast– their services are currently available in more than 300 cities. Since demand is fairly constant across the US (the average automobile age is 11.5 years, and older vehicles require more repairs) all YM needs to do is aggregate enough supply (mechanics) to launch a new city. As a two-sided marketplace, YM benefits greatly from network effects: the more mechanics they have on the platform, the more valuable the app is to consumers, and vice versa.
YourMechanic has raised over $1.8M so far in venture funding (with more to be announced soon) from top-tier investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, YCombinator, and Greylock Partners, so this is likely just the beginning of their success story.
Student comments on YourMechanic: Uber for Auto Repair
Very interesting read! When I first saw the headline I had doubts about how consumers would trust the mechanics, but the guarantee and convenience seem to offset concerns around trust. As they expand even more, it will be interesting to see how traditional brick and mortar repair shops respond and if pricing and flexibility at traditional shops begins to move in a competitive response.