Fixed Ops Journal – February 2016 - (Page 50)

FIXED OPS JOURNAL Once upon an Xtime ■ How a solution found a problem of scheduling service appointments An Xtime app allows consumers to schedule service appointments on the go. TIM MORAN I n 2003, Neal East, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, was handed a solution and told to find the problem it would solve profitably. Eventually, he found the right problem: scheduling auto dealership service appointments. The solution now is known as Xtime and processes more than 2.5 million dealership service appointments each month. The company, with ties to 23 automotive brands, was acquired by Cox Automotive in 2014 for $325 million. But to get there, East and his team had to learn about, and then target, dealerships' scheduling needs. East was introduced to the solution by Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist who now is a board member of Tesla Motors. Jurvetson had backed a firm that meant to use an e-commerce strategy to sell services rather than products - an Amazon equivalent for services. But by 2003, the startup had burned through $20 million without gaining a market niche or a steady income stream. Jurvetson called in East because of his success launching information technology companies in the financial services and utility industries. Perhaps East could figure out how to sell service. Neal East, Xtime president, targeted dealerships. PAGE 50 FEBRUARY 2016 Online scheduling software powered by Xtime processes more than 2.5 million service appointments a month. "Steve said, 'The idea was profound and I don't know why it's not working,'" recalls East, now president of Xtime. On the road East went on the road to visit customers of the failed venture. When he came back to Jurvetson, he knew that the concept was valid and why the company had failed. Rather than trying to fit all kinds of services, it needed to focus on one large, vertically integrated market. Most services sell a time-sensitive product - often, hours that can't be regained if they slip by - and in auto dealerships lots of shop time was going unsold. Responding to a request for proposals from Chrysler, East realized the enormity of the scheduling problem. "We uncovered what looked to us like one of the most enormous greenfields we had ever run across: an unbelievable space where you had 20,000 dealerships in the U.S. and Canada," says East. A second request for help, from Renault, showed that the problem was international. When East and his partners asked how automotive brands were solving the unused capacity problem, they were shown proprietary programs that opened a bewildering array of applications, few of which could talk to one another. East, who says he loves cars but declines to call himself a car guy, set to work. In 2003, the first beta application rolled out to Chrysler dealers. By 2005, Xtime was robust enough for a multibrand version. Today, Xtime is used at 7,000 dealerships worldwide and manages nearly 3 million appointments a month. Understanding what East calls the "core drivers" was critical to that growth. "Ultimately you had to address the customer concerns SEE XTIME, PAGE 51

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal – February 2016

Editor’s Letter: Welcome to Fixed Ops Journal
Service Counter: Tracking fixed-ops numbers
Legal Lane: Court cases that affect you
Mobile mechanics: Do shop-free technicians threaten your business?
Mark Smith: A fixed-ops-focused dealer aims to change the industry
Adding capacity: Sales spur FCA, Subaru dealerships’ fixed-ops growth
Richard Truett: Toolmaker targets new techs
Designed for service: A look at a Minnesota dealership’s makeover
Weekend work: Service extends to Saturday, even Sunday
Tech exodus: How outdated policies worsen the tech shortage
Before Xtime: The origins of widely used scheduling software
Older parts: Toyota, Ford respond to older cars on the road
5 minutes with: Ford’s Toney, Toyota’s Laukes
Shop Talk: One question, multiple service directors
Fixed in Time: A look at service of yesteryear

Fixed Ops Journal – February 2016