GoWrench Auto is a Hamilton company that’s disrupting the auto repair industry. They’re expanding to other cities and building an app. Referrals, content and digital marketing power their expansion.
Getting your car serviced is like going to the doctors. You need to take time off work or out of your family life to get it done. You’re either sitting in a waiting room for 45 minutes or driving to the shop, getting a shuttle back to work, then getting a shuttle back to the shop, and driving home or back to work. Inconvenient. But that’s how it is.
If you can hail a ride with an app, have meals delivered to your house, or do all your shopping online, why should you be held to inconvenience simply for tradition’s sake? When Josh Lombardo-Bottema was operating a company fleet of 10 vehicles, this question led him to start GoWrench Auto.
When you need repairs or maintenance, you can call or book an appointment from the website. GoWrench mechanics are fully licensed and insured, like any auto repair shop should be. But these mechanics come to your home or work, causing little, if any interruption.
“Consumers are sick and tired of the scare and annoyance of having to bring your vehicle in, wait around the shop, have your kids running around a grungy waiting room with a smarties machine that hasn’t been used in 10 years,” Josh says “Now they just wait in their living room while their car is being fixed.”
This is a natural shift for customers. People talk about their service because they loved it, so referrals are GoWrench’s most potent marketing engine. Josh says that 2015 was their best year, serving 400-500 customers. The numbers grow monthly. Josh plans to hire up to 5 more mechanics in Ottawa and Toronto as GoWrench expands.
Launching the GoWrench App
As they invade cities, GoWrench is getting ready to launch an app. iOS, Android and web users will create profiles, order service, make payments, and track their vehicle’s service history from the app. For GoWrench, all of their systems and customer processing will be automated. Coordinating mechanics, taking payments, and keep track of customers is built into the app.
GoWrench started as an automotive repair company. Now they’re a tech company. While employing and insuring mechanics, GoWrench’s real service is connecting mechanics to people who need repairs and parts suppliers.
Digital Marketing for Perfect Timing
To amplify the referrals they’re getting, GoWrench advertises on search engines and has a local display ad campaign. They want to be seen in the zero moment of truth, when the customer is looking for solutions.
But content marketing caught them by surprise.
“Content changed a lot for us, having good content that people find helpful,” Josh says “They can read about something on their car and then request a service.”
Josh acknowledges that effective content isn’t sexy, but it is useful. GoWrench’s usefulness depends largely on timing. Customers won’t usually notice a post about brakes until the moment their brakes fail.
Social Media for Nurturing Community
Social media doesn’t win new customers for GoWrench. To place an ad on social media means thousands of people seeing it who don’t need it. Sure, a small percentage of people may be looking for car repairs, but it’s a gamble compared to search ads that appear when customers look for auto repair shops specifically.
Social media helps GoWrench stay connected with current customers. Josh says although interaction on Facebook and Twitter isn’t huge, relationships are nurtured with useful content, discounts, sharing press coverage, community events, and feel good stories.
Less Confidence in Traditional Advertising
GoWrench doesn’t invest in print, radio or T.V. ads, yet traditional media has provided good exposure. Despite the attention that came from being featured in a couple newspaper articles and on radio, Josh still isn’t confident that the expense is worth the risk in traditional advertising.
“If it was cheaper, I might try it,” Josh says. “How often do you read the paper, listen to radio? I don’t even watch TV anymore.”
Josh explained that his target market barely spends time reading newspapers or watching cable TV. Radio might be the one exception because Josh is an avid radio listener, as are many of his customers. He reasons that if he doesn’t use the medium, why advertise in it? There is high potential reach in traditional media that Josh acknowledges, but there’s no guarantee that the ads will pay off. As a startup, risk needs to be tightly managed. Josh doesn’t feel that traditional media is a worth the risk yet.
That may change with app release however. Although it won’t be GoWrench’s primary marketing channel, Josh says the reach of traditional advertising may be worth it to promote the app.
Their digital audience will come into focus as well. Advertising the app on social media makes more sense. New users get a discount as incentive to try out GoWrench’s service. Josh is confident that people will stick with GoWrench once they’ve tried it out. Especially as an app. It’s a value added service. Josh anticipates the ease of use and convenience will be a huge attraction.
Getting the app onto devices will be the priority. It’s a direct line to a licensed mechanic who is thrilled to bring service to your driveway. That’s hard to ignore. The Advertising focus then shifts from catching people in their moment of need to maximum brand and message exposure. That means embracing traditional media and becoming wizards at social media marketing. All of which launches from a foundation of partnerships and referrals.
With the app in play, Josh will be able to focus on honing target markets and enriching partnerships. As a serial entrepreneur, Josh isn’t short on ambition. The app will position GoWrench to scale up and become a national brand.