Providers other than new-vehicle dealerships continue to dominate the market for mobile auto service. Still, as more customers demand that businesses deliver services and products to their home or workplace, dealerships and automakers are taking their first steps to get technicians out of the shop.
Independent mechanics who make house calls aren't new. But companies offering such services on a large scale date to the founding of YourMechanic in 2012. Since then, YourMechanic has been joined by startups such as Seattle-based Wrench and, since July, RepairSmith in California.
Cox Automotive's most recent Service Industry Study, completed last year, suggests that more consumers are interested in mobile service (39 percent) than valet service that picks up a vehicle for maintenance or repair and returns it to the owner's residence or office (36 percent). Yet Cox Automotive Vice President Jim Roche told Fixed Ops Journal that "28 percent of dealers are offering valet services, and just 6 percent are toying with mobile service."
As the number of mobile service companies grows and their offerings expand, Roche adds, these providers pose greater competition to franchised dealerships for maintenance of vehicle fleets.
Several automakers are beginning to explore programs for dealership-based mobile service. Ford Motor Co. launched a pilot program in May that dispatches dealership service vans to perform maintenance and repairs, says Frederiek Toney, president of Ford's Global Customer Service Division.
Toyota Motor North America is exploring a pilot program of mobile service starting next year with an undisclosed number of Toyota and Lexus dealers, says Nathan Kokes, Toyota's advanced technology communications manager. Audi of America is examining a mobile program for electric vehicles, says Joe Rood, the company's director of service operations and training, adding that some Audi dealers already make house calls for minor repairs.