Most of us love cars. We look at cars, admire them, appreciate the efficiency, and look for a sense of freedom when we are driving them. And better cars make us feel even better. However, cars require regular maintenance and this is an onerous task for car owners.
Finding reliable service professionals is a matter of luck or recommendation from a friend. Further, since the automotive service market is highly unorganized, credibility is at a premium. Poor quality of service, dearth of trained mechanics, and lack of transparency are some of the ills that dog this sector.
If you look at the statistics of automotive service as a category, you will find that it has a mix of organized and un-organized service providers. About 40% of the service providers in top tier cities fall under the organized sector. The rest belong to the unorganized sector. There is a huge need to overhaul and organize this market to get better quality service and vehicular efficiency. The gap between demand and supply is a big one and this is what has fuelled the fire for this startup called ‘Cartisan’.
In June 2015, Venkat Sreeram, Sharath Murthy, and Pete Bulley launched Cartisan, an interactive platform for car owners, catering to all vehicle related service requirements. “We provide our customers with a wide range of services, from simple quick washes to major body repairs, and are constantly adding more services based on demand,” says Venkat Sreeram, the CEO.
So far, over 100 service providers have been enrolled on this platform. They have been selected based on: type of services they provide, reputation, type of customers, type of vehicles they service, and location, etc. The list includes reputed chains like 3M Car Care and Bosch Car Service; as well as a few authorized service stations of reputed car companies. Cartisan currently covers service providers only in Bengaluru, but is looking forward to expand into other cities in the coming months.
Cartisan’s platform is easy to operate, hassle-free, and requires minimum effort. It enables users to select the best solution with minimum fuss – [read] number of clicks.
It claims to address one of the major challenges in car servicing - lack of transparency - both in terms of pricing and service quality levels. On Cartisan, one can make comparative pricing estimates and see ratings and reviews by other car owners. This allows car owners to make informed choices and derive much better value.
“We are determined to build trust - so that customers can rely on us as well as the service providers, in their time of need. You can book a service appointment through our website www.cartisan.in or the soon-to-be launched app which will allow you to specify the model of vehicle and the type of service required,” says Venkat.
The app is specifically designed to allow service providers to receive service requests directly from customers. Service providers get notified when customers make a booking for service appointments. If a particular service provider is unavailable, or is fully occupied at that time, they may suggest alternatives. Besides, through the app, service providers can keep the customer up to date on the progress of the work on their vehicle.
There are many other functions on the dashboard, including - managing individual service provider profiles, contact info, and working hours.
The relative absence of competition gives space to the venture to flourish in the market.
“There’s no clear, comparable platform in India. Other platforms such as Just Dial and Urban Clap are mere listing services and are not specific to the automotive servicing market,” says Venkat.
According to Venkat, the feedback has been encouraging so far; and consumers are keen to use the platform over other sources. He says, “We are currently offering our service/platform free of cost to consumers, as well as to service providers. We plan to establish a fair monetization model once we have a critical mass of customers and service providers on the platform. Our objective is to improve customer experience through convenience and transparency.”
The road ahead
The venture is bootstrapped till date. However, investors have been showing more interest in the platform lately. They are likely to close on an angel funding round very soon.
“We are just one-month old and are happy with the traction on the website and response from the customers. We will first establish the platform in Bangalore and ensure that the customers get the best service experience possible. We will then look to expand to other cities, probably within the next six months. The industry is poised for growth and this will be a boon for both the customers and the market,” says Venkat.
The road ahead for Cartisan is paved with opportunities. If it can show value to the genuine service providers they are likely to get most of them on board. Customers have suffered this unorganized segment for long and are ready for any professional solutions that might come their way.