Bangalore-based Koovers is looking to change the way vehicle service centres of the unorganised sector work, and endeavours to drive more transparency and reliability in their operations. Auto Tech Review met up with Sandeep Begur, CEO and Co-founder, Koovers to understand the start-up’s business offering, strategy and partnership with Hella.
Established in 2015 by four engineering classmates, who carry over two decades of experience in various sectors such as automotive dealership, aftermarket, technology and strategy, Koovers was set-up to create an ecosystem for a smarter car care experience, said Begur. The company aims at providing customers a better experience, in terms of service cost, transparency and genuine spare parts. Koovers initially identified over 150 service centres from the unorganised sector and added them to its list of service centres offered to customers. Subsequently, it entered into a collaboration with Hella India to set up multi-brand service centres on a franchise model.
KOOVERS WORK IN SERVICE CENTRES
Frost & Sullivan data shows that about 70 % of cars in the market go to independent aftermarket service centres once their warranty period expires, said Begur. This data indicates that the market size of vehicles opting for aftermarket service centres is large. The idea is not to create large service centres, but rather a no-frills service centre, where service is accorded priority, with high focus on cost and customer satisfaction.
The company identifies service centres that are about 4,500-5,000 sq ft in size, which are typically brownfield projects that have strong servicing background, but are struggling in many areas. These factors would include finance, marketing and malicious spare parts, Begur noted. It works on six parameters with such service centres – training, financing, spare parts, increasing footfall, customer satisfaction and return on investment (ROI). Training is imparted for technology, technical aspects and soft skills. Begur said that spare parts are the biggest bane in the industry today, with the company focusing on how to position spare parts, improve their pricing and ensure faster delivery.
Koovers partnered with Hella in January 2018 to set up a range of multi-brand car care centres, aimed at addressing challenges faced by customers post-warranty such as high costs incurred on continuing with the brand service centre, inefficiency, unreliability and questionable expertise of local garages, and procurement of qualitative spare parts. Koovers gets value addition from this partnership owing to latter‘s global automotive experience, Begur noted. The two companies aim at assisting entrepreneurs to set-up a successful and organised service centre business, enabling such entrepreneurs across the value chain, from technical support, training and financing, to sourcing, branding and revenue generation. The idea is to help establish a one-stop networking solution, which finally results in customer satisfaction. Koovers will use this model in cooperation with Hella to establish 300-500 multi-brand service centres over the next three to four years, creating employment for over 3,000 people and establishing such service centres across India.
Koovers has developed a technology platform comprising multiple components, with the core focus area being the dealer/ workshop management system, which houses two apps – a B2B app used by garages, while the B2C app is a customer-facing interface. This is an integrated platform, which works seamlessly to connect with different stakeholders. The workshop comes with features such as appointment booking, job card creation and readying an estimate. This estimate is then sent to the customer, following which work begins after receiving approval, he added.
The customer is updated about the entire work process of the vehicle through the technology platform by way of notifications, he noted. As work on the vehicle progresses, the process of procurement of spares take place through a separate platform used by the parts supply team at Koovers. The workshops are able to place parts orders, which come to the parts supply team in real-time, he said. Once the work is completed, workshops generate invoices on the platform, with customers being offered various payment modes due to integration of a number of payment systems. Subsequently, Koovers carries out the customer service and support process that takes place from its centralised call centre system. Follow-up calls are made to gather customer feedback on the vehicle’s service quality. He also said that on top of this integrated platform, Koovers provide customers with an OBD adapter that can monitor their vehicle’s condition on the app.
Koovers sees comprehensive technology integration as a major differentiator as compared to other competitors. The company also has a connected car concept vision using prognostics that is provided by collecting customer data and continuous analysis. It would help customers plan their vehicle maintenance and also help garages prepare for a particular job that is expected to come its way, explained Vinayak. This is enabled mainly by the fact that a large amount of service history is available once customers and garages connect with Koovers’ vehicle service platform.
Koovers is keen to leverage its technology stack, branding and operating model to expand into international markets, starting with France and Morocco. The company is in the process of setting up its first multi brand vehicle service centre in France, and has established a joint venture (JV) partner in France, who also has a strong presence in Morocco, which led it to choose these two markets, Begur noted.
TEXT: Naveen Arul