During this nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, the only vehicles we see and appreciate for being on the road are the emergency and essential vehicles. But what if these vehicles end up facing difficulties in upkeeping?
In such unprecedented times, it has become difficult to reach out to technicians and mechanics when these services are of much importance.
Further, the local authorities are realising that the society needs critical support of technicians and other workers who provide essential maintenance to ensure the smooth running of water, electricity, sewerage, and repair and maintenance of essential vehicles.
To that effect, #OpenForHeroes, an initiative by the Gurugram-based automotive service startup GoMechanic, has come forward to help these vehicles by providing technicians and mechanics for the required maintenance.
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On March 25, the day the lockdown came into effect across India, GoMechanic announced the #OpenForHeroes initiative to support emergency and essential vehicles such as ambulances, police vehicles, etc., across the top metro cities.
“Emergency and essential services cannot afford to stop even more so when India is under lockdown. Ensuring they get access to the best service and their vehicles keep running, is the need of the hour, and we felt it is our duty to offer the same. At the same time, we wanted to show our appreciation for these real-life heroes in whatever way possible,” says Kushal Karwa, Co-Founder of GoMechanic.
Under the #OpenForHeroes initiative, when someone (of an emergency or essential services vehicles only) books an order via GoMechanic (which is free of charge), the startup quickly sends the vehicle to a functional workshop as per that city's policy.
GoMechanic also claims to confirm the nature of the vehicle, and do the basic validation to ensure the benefit reaches the right and intended ones. All labour and service charges are completely waived and it charges only per consumption besides the applicable taxes.
If as per the state law, the maintenance centres cannot be open, then GoMechanic finds and sends the vehicles to the nearest available mechanic for repair. Moreover, its workshops and mechanics follow strict sanitisation methods. Essential vehicle owners can call on 08398970970 for repair services.
“We are operating in the metro cities wherever the police are allowing this. We have repaired quite a few vehicles of the Pune and Gurugram police. On average, we are doing around seven to eight vehicles per day, and have repaired over 100 vehicles across various cities till now,” says Kushal.
As an internal precaution, the startup has handed over personal protective equipment (PPEs) like masks to all its ground force, including the mechanics. All the vehicles are also sanitised before they start repairing.
“For our employees, we have launched a remote diagnostic programme. On the video call, we consult them to a medical professional to check if they have any symptoms. We also give them preventive measures. This is done regularly. We are also training all our staffs on the care to be taken during the lockdown in terms of hygiene and other factors associated with it,” the co-founder adds.
What is GoMechanic
GoMechanic is a branded network of car service workshops with a presence in 12 cities across India. The startup’s services can be booked through its website, app, or by a central customer care number.
It was founded in 2016 by IIM-Ahmedabad graduates Kushal Karwa and Amit Bhasin to offer a seamless car service experience at the vehicle owners’ convenience. The co-founders were joined by Rishabh Karwa and Nitin Rana, who brought in their unique and complementary competencies to the operations of the startup.
Customers can opt for free car pick-up and drop-off service, or book an appointment and drive to the GoMechanic workshop.
Once the car reaches the service centre, the workshop starts filling the inventory requirements on a need basis, and the details are directed to the on-ground customer representative. Post-approval from the representative, the repair work starts.
Each stage of the job can be tracked on a real-time basis. Moreover, the billing, procedures, and service detailing can be tracked on the platform. One can access the vehicle service history and other details on the customer dashboard. For this, GoMechanic has two applications: the customer representative app and the garage app.
It’s asset-light model with centralised bulk procurement of spare parts from OEM’s (original equipment manufacturer), zero real-estate overheads, and technology-driven efficiency has resulted in significant savings, which are passed onto the customers.
The startup claims its customers save more than 40 percent on their service and repair costs, as compared with an authorised service centre. This is primarily due to centralised procurement and supply of spare parts and saving on labour costs.
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The Gurugram startup has partnered with multi-brand workshops that provide services, repairs, and clean cars. It ensures that the workshops are standardised and provide genuine spare parts, which are directly procured from the original equipment suppliers (OES). It has a corporate tie-up with Mobil Lubricants, and the startup is also the official partner of Uber in the Delhi-NCR region.
With a current team size of 550 employees across all the cities, GoMechanic claims to service 30,000 cars every month, on an average across all its workshops.
Currently, GoMechanic has over 260 car repair workshops across 12 cities in India, including Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, and Chennai.
Backed by marquee investor Orios Ventures Partners and other angels, the startup claims to service over two million cars annually and is targeting 10 million customers by 2021.
“We have now started bike servicing, and also work with many insurance companies to get their accidental vehicles repaired. We have launched separate services for tyre and battery changing,” says Kushal.
While GoMechanic’s future plans have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it still aims to launch its services in another 20 cities in India by the end of 2020. In fact, it also plans to launch its operations in Southeast Asia.
However, the co-founder is optimistic about the automobile industry in the post-COVID-19 world. “Automobile industry has been impacted like other sectors. But, what we see is, once the lockdown is lifted, there is going to be a definite uptake in the business of ours. And, I also hope that the auto industry gets back to normal soon.”
(Edited by Suman Singh)
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