The UAE has seen its fair share of app-based startups. The latest of those apps to hit Dubai this year is ServiceMyCar.ae, a 24/7 on-demand car servicing app that will handle all that ails your car, whenever you need it. From the busy banker, to the overwhelmed mother, the app brings convenience to one of the greatest burdens of owning a car.
AMEinfo had the opportunity to speak with Ozair Puda, CEO of ServiceMyCar, to learn more about the various facets of his new firm, and how they ensure the best customer service given the pitfalls of such a business model.
Puda came to the UAE during October 2017. However, he launched the app March of 2018, and it went live the year after during March of 2019. Now, his company has officially gone live, after 6 months of relative trial and error.
How did you come up with the idea for ServiceMyCar? What gap were you trying to fill in the market?
I used to work in a workshop in the UK that used a similar system. I developed the technology further and brought it to the UAE. Here, people are used to going to the agencies because they think their warranty will be void if they repair outside licensed service centers – which is not true.
In 2016, there was new rule that came out in the press saying that repairing outside licensed service centers would not affect your warranty, as long as you use genuine parts.
So then I said, ok, that covers people with genuine parts. They can repair the car outside their agencies. What about people who don’t know about cheaper parts, which are aftermarket parts? Aftermarket parts are not made by the manufacturer, but by a third party. You have Bosch, which is a good German brand, and is cheaper by half the price. They make all the spark plugs and batteries for BMW.
So with aftermarket parts, we thought that we’ll be saving people money. Now, how are we gonna save people time? That’s when I came up with the idea for us to collect the car, service it and deliver it. Customers don’t have to do anything. They make the booking online, and we come and do everything. We save them time and money.
Speaking of warranties, you said that using authentic parts outside customers’ official workshops won’t void their warranty. Can you explain more about this?
If any repairs are needed, that’s when you need to take your car to the garage provided by the warranty. But, if a customer wants to service a car, there is no conflict with the warranty coverage – as long as we service the car with authentic parts. It’s only repairs using unauthentic parts that cause the warranty to become void.
Can you tell us a bit about how you secured funding for the company?
We are a member of Saif Belhasa Holding. They sought equity in exchange for investment during our seed round. We are looking to take on the first, second and third round, and potentially exit.
Can you tell us a bit about your network of garages? Are the garages that customer cars are sent to owned by your company, or are they third-party garages? If they are third-party garages, how do you stay in control of quality and customer service across them?
We send the cars to third-party garages that are affiliated with us, with a contract in place. Every garage gets vetted. First, the garage will have to apply to become part of our network. Then, I have one of the team members go there. We check their trade license, insurance policy, and all their documents, and check what equipment they have. Some workshops don’t have the computer tools to handle some cars. With BMW, for example, you need a special diagnostics tool, and not all workshops have that. So, we check what they can and can’t repair, and we put together all our findings to decide whether they are suitable to join our network.
Every time we get a booking, it goes through a strict process. Say you book your car and you have a Mercedes. The first criteria we would look for is a Mercedes workshop and specialist. We would look for a German workshop.
Over time, how do you ensure that your affiliate garages are providing the best service to your customers’ vehicles?
We have advisors for this, and every advisor handles 3 workshops – no more. In our office, we have 5 advisors. They control 15 workshops. We have another 3 advisors in the evening, and they control another 9 workshops. So in total, we are in contact with 24 workshops, even though we have 30 on our network. The 6 extra serve as backup.
We only assign three workshops per advisor so that things don’t get out of hand. Also, every week, we have the advisor going to each of their assigned workshops making sure there were no issues in the prior week, and that there were no complaints.
If we have had any complaints from customers, we relay that back to the workshop saying ‘this or that needs to change.’ We give them paper mats to put inside customers’ cars after servicing them, and all the stationary and tools that they need. We stock them up on things like air fresheners and everything like that.
We also have a quality assurance team that ensures we are providing the best service. Our truck driver has a quality assessment form to fill with every delivery. We have to check if the car has been washed, cleaned, vacuumed and if the mandatory road test had been performed. The driver carious out a 2 kilometer road test with the car, while the workshop advisors have to do a 10 km test. After these quality checks, the car is ready for delivery back to its owner.
Puda explained that their services are cheaper than service fees in official dealerships, for example.
When you go to the agency/official workshop, they say things like ‘we recommend you change this and this as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.’ But, those parts don’t really need changing. When you bring you car to us, we only change what you NEED to change – what we can see is faulty – and not what the car’s service book recommends. Not all those parts really need changing.
If you send a customer a quote for the proposed car part fees, and they reject it, how does the process work from there? Do customers pay a fixed fee when they receive their car back after opting out of the service?
What happens when you make a booking online is that you book a service: Basic, Full or Major. These don’t include the service parts. These include our service fee, collection and delivery, health check, fluid refills, AC gas top up, computer diagnostics, and a car wash. That’s what you pay for online.
The extra charge, which is wholly subjective to change as per the parts that need changing, covers the part costs. After receiving a report from the garage, ServiceMyCar informs the customer which parts need changing, and how much it’ll cost. If they reject the parts swap, their car goes through the aforementioned servicing as per the fixed fee plan they paid, and is returned to them with all the servicing done, save for the part changes.
Our parts advisors shop around across 30-40 parts suppliers to get customers the best price.
Can you tell us about the customers that have used your services so far? What services are most requested?
Our customers are mostly busy [individuals] – people like office workers and bankers – people that don’t have the time to service their car. We’ve even picked up cars from the mall. We have customers who go to the mall during the day, ask us to collect their car, and ask for it to be returned by the evening – fully serviced and ready.
Puda envisions his company as something akin to Talabat or Zomato, but for cars.
Careem used to come and pick you up to take you where you want to go. ServiceMyCar is that, but for car repair and servicing.
Now, the plan is to expand across the UAE – at least 20-30 cars per Emirate. Eventually, we are aiming to service 500 cars in the UAE daily. Then, we want to expand to Saudi, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and all over the GCC.