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.
n 2003, Neal East, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, was handed a solution and
told to find the problem it would solve
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
But to get there, East and his team had to
learn about, and then target, dealerships'
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
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
Neal East, Xtime president,
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
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
"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