Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 43

FIXED OPS JOURNAL

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

 Broker connects service shops with buyers online, by smartphone

A

MARK ELIAS

foj@autonews.com

n online vendor is exploiting consumers' reliance on their smartphones to
compete with - and increasingly to
work with - franchised dealerships in arranging vehicle service.
Openbay, of Cambridge, Mass., connects
customers with more than 10,000 local repair
providers for free. Although the company initially worked largely with independent repair
shops, Openbay CEO Rob Infantino says it also is forging ties with dealership service departments.
Openbay's services are especially popular
with tech-savvy millennials born since 1982,
Infantino told Fixed Ops Journal. The company launched in 2013.
A customer uses Openbay's app for mobile
devices to enter his or her vehicle's year, make,
model and maintenance or repair needs.
Nearby service shops in Openbay's network
are alerted and can respond with price quotes
for the work.
The app then provides the customer with
several quotes that include costs of parts, labor and taxes. The customer can schedule and
pay online for a service appointment, which is
covered by an Openbay guarantee of the
work's quality.
"We remove the friction and hassle of getting your car repaired," Infantino says.
Competitors in Openbay's market segment
include RepairPal, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
through the Waze app and regional providers
such as Wrench and Otobots that send mobile
mechanics to repair vehicles at customers'
homes and workplaces.

Pay to play
Service providers pay $149 to $299 a month,
based on the number of generated quotes, to
be included in Openbay's listings.
The Openbay platform enables shops to update customers about work on their vehicles, including photos and videos of the service work.
"A technician can advise the client on any
subsequent work that may be needed," Infantino says. "There is total transparency
during the repair."
The typical Openbay customer's vehicle is
nearly 10 years old, Infantino notes. The com-

By the 'bay'

Openbay claims to deliver "car repair
for the 21st century." Among its
features
 Connecting service shops with
customers via smartphones
 Offering repair quotes from several
providers before booking
 Pricing agreed upon in advance
 Tracking vehicle maintenance
 Accepting payment online
 Offering cash rewards to repeat
customers
Source: Openbay

pany app allows a dealership to attract customers whose factory warranties have expired, offer them special deals and potentially
turn them into new-vehicle buyers, he adds.
"The lightbulb went on, and all of a sudden
dealers realized it made sense," Infantino says.
"That became a turning point for us."
A separate mobile app enables Openbay to
communicate directly with dealerships and
service departments about labor and parts
costs. Infantino declined to estimate how many franchised dealerships are in the company's network.

Slow start
Openbay's dealership partners include the
Herb Chambers Cos., which operates 58 new-

vehicle dealerships in New England. The tieup has produced few new service customers,
says Ed Clark, the group's
corporate director of fixed
operations.
"We price competitively
through the Openbay platform," Clark says. "When we
first started using it, we
thought it would attract
young buyers - new customers who would start to Infantino: "Total
come here. But in actuality, transparency" in
it was mostly repeat cus- repair work
tomers who were now using
Openbay."
Mercedes-Benz Manhattan in New York became part of Openbay's platform this year, says
Anthony Christiano, the dealership's manager
of fixed operations. The store aims to show
Openbay customers "we are just as competitive as the independents they deal with now."
The dealership gets about 15 price requests
from Openbay customers on a typical day,
and converts one-third of those leads, Christiano says. The service department discounts
parts and labor charges for cars that are 10
years old and older, he adds.
"Once you start taking care of the Openbay
clients and they submit post-service feedback
on the app, that is where your work customers
really start increasing," Christiano says. "With
cars having longer service intervals, we need
to get other customers in here."
About 40 percent of Openbay customers
schedule work with a service provider they
have not used before, according to company
data. Two of three customers select a provider
primarily based on convenience rather than
price, Infantino notes.
"If you take two or three hours to get back to
them, chances are you will lose the job," Infantino says.
Openbay now partners with a former rival,
the mobile mechanic service YourMechanic.
com. The company's CEO, Anthony Rodio,
would not say how much business it is getting
from Openbay.
"We are sort of competitors and sort of not,"
Rodio says. "We are definitely seeing referrals
from Openbay, so, yes, it has been a positive
partnership." 

AUGUST 2017

PAGE 43



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017

Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017
Contents
Need a lift
Tire track
Mobility devices
Times to recall
Slick trick
Fatal fire
Players club
Online parts
Lean inventory
Loyalty test
Patent pending
Open minded
Editor’s Letter
Service Counter
Legal Lane
Richard Truett
Feedback
Five Minutes With
Letters
Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Intro
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Cover2
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Editor’s Letter
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 5
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Service Counter
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 7
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Legal Lane
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 9
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 10
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Need a lift
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Tire track
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 13
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 14
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 15
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 16
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 17
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Mobility devices
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 19
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 20
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 21
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 22
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 23
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Times to recall
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 25
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 26
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 27
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Slick trick
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 29
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Fatal fire
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Richard Truett
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Players club
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 33
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Online parts
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 35
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Lean inventory
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 37
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Loyalty test
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 39
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Patent pending
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 41
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Feedback
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Open minded
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Five Minutes With
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Letters
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Cover3
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Cover4
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