Founded in 2018, Gurugram-based Fixcraft aims to disrupt the auto service and repair market. The start-up looks to bring in high-quality services at economical costs and has been working on creating a strong relationship with the customer by building trust via a transparent service/repair process. Having been in the industry for a few years now, we spoke to Vivek Sharma, CEO & Founder of Fixcraft to get an idea about his experience thus far and where the market is headed with the onset of EVs.
Q. What were the challenges you faced both in terms of customer service and onboarding reliable mechanic partners?
Since we started, the first challenge was to convince the customer on how we will be able to deliver the same or better quality than the authorised service centres. We had to explain the process that we follow to execute the work. Technology and a well-trained team played a big part in the same. Another challenge was to convince the customers to let us take their cars to a well-equipped Fixcraft garage which may not be very close to where the customer lives. Real-time tracking of cars helped us solve the trust issue there. Finally, the trust barrier regarding the quality of the work was solved through an unconditional warranty on the work performed. This was something unheard of in the sector and we got a warm reception there.
On the execution side, the churn of good mechanics/painters is an industry problem. When we started, instead of treating the staff as the bottom of the pyramid entity, we treated them as leaders who will make or break us. We provided them with the best-in-industry pay scales, annual appraisals, ESIC and PF benefits and accommodation as well for the needs. This helped us attract and retain the best talent in the industry and we are providing them training and certification as well to enable them to be better professionals.
The learning on the way has been very simple and encouraging. If we stay true to our promise of excellent quality and trust, the sky’s the limit.
Q. Till date how many vehicles have you serviced and your expansion plans?
We are a 35,000+ strong car lovers community and are growing steadily with expansion. We are present across North and South India right now; and intend to expand our presence in West and East India in the coming months. In the next 12 months we are looking at servicing more than 1 lakh customers and have presence across 10 metros.
Q. What is your customer retention rate?
We operate at a very high NPS (net promoter score) which is a proxy of how likely a customer is to recommend us to their friends and family. In our industry where the average score stands at about 20, our NPS is 60. With time, we see this number increasing as we are continuously improving. The quality of service we provide also adds to the customer retention rate. We have certain customers who are very regular with their services with us.
Q. What are the key factors that influence if a customer is likely to repeat business with Fixcraft?
At Fixcraft, we are driven by a simple fundamental principle. Before delivery of any car, the final Quality Check inspector will have to answer one question – ‘Will he/she take the delivery of this vehicle happily if this was his/her car?’. The car is delivered when the answer is a resounding yes. Typically, a good experience is a combination of multiple factors like quality of work, timely delivery, updates on multiple steps, communication with the team/app and seamless execution of payments and delivery. We have been solving these step by step.
One of the factors which are different from the hygiene factors mentioned earlier is our seamless integration with all insurance providers in the country. We are able to provide cashless facilities at all our centres. In a nutshell, our customer obsession is one factor which enables us to get our customers to come back to us again rather than just a price point.
Q. Is the Indian market poised for the growth of this sector?
One may argue that the current market downturn will impact the growth of the auto service sector. However, some basic fundamentals are in favour of considerable growth in this sector for India. The per capita penetration of vehicle parc is still very low in India (around 2.2 per cent) and car ownership is still a celebrated moment in the middle-class segment. The emotion-driven availability of entry-level cars and improved financing availability will keep driving the auto sector’s growth.
Along with new cars, there is a very healthy used car market in India that is growing steadily with ownership duration coming down. Since the repair market is catered to by both used as well as new cars, we see a very robust path for this sector in the coming times.
Q. With electric vehicles gaining popularity, what are your current offerings for the segment?
The conversion to EVs from ICEs is a welcome change for the entire ecosystem, be it the manufacturers, service chains or the end customers. For now, there is a considerable dent in the two-wheeler market, and we are seeing early adoption signs in four-wheelers as well, led by the fleet operators. The personal car usage of EVs is yet to explode in India and will require a lot of work on infrastructure, financing, and superior products among others. From a service provider’s point of view, the market is still evolving as the need for service will also go through a dramatic shift.
For Fixcraft, since we are a one-stop solution for all car care needs, it’s just one vertical which will go through the change. Other services like body repairs, AC services, tyre and batteries are independent of transmission, and hence remain unchanged.
The controversial view is that an EV customer is more aware and is more abreast with technology, we, however, treat every customer with the same importance and care irrespective of the type, fuel or age of the car. We believe that every car is equally important. We certainly are investing in technological know-how to acquire the skills to service EVs and are fully prepared for the EV penetration in the market.
Q. What is your view on the overall vehicle servicing aftermarket? What according to you will drive more investments in the sector?
I believe the industry is a perfect combination of omnichannel delivery of services, and hence a very lucrative sector for the investors. Especially, in a market as volatile as it is today, the auto services sector, which is more sustainable and solves the very prominent problem, will become sought after by VCs (venture capitalists) and PEs (private equities) alike. Moreover, the use of technology will enable a larger scale and a superior customer experience which will in turn drive the investors to this sector. We have been investing in the same direction and have kept the fundamentals very tight on unit economics, customer experience and scalability.