Maintenance of vehicles, especially four-wheelers has traditionally been carried out either by OEM authorised centres or independent garages. While the OEM authorised service centres have been known to be high in cost, local garages have been unorganised and have issues of distrust among customers. These challenges led to the entry of multi-brand service centres in the industry, which offer services of periodic maintenance to cars that are out of warranty, but require a transparent mode of working.
Mahindra First Choice Services (MFC Services) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mahindra group, and is claimed to be India’s largest chain of multi-brand car workshops. The company has over 330 car workshops, across more than 250 towns in the country. In addition to vehicle servicing, MFC Services has also entered the business of private label spare parts for all car brands. Furthermore, the company has launched a new flagship product, called DearO. This is a simple and smart workshop management system that is designed to help workshops manage their day-to-day operations in the most effective and efficient manner.
The company invited us to participate in its ‘A Date With Your Car’ program, which it plans to open to the public. This program allows a customer to work on their own vehicle during a regular paid service, under the watchful eyes of the mechanics at an MFC Services centre. The idea is to engage people in the servicing business, where the customer gets their hands dirty while working on their car. The company said that it has begun this program initially with media professionals, and then plans to roll it out to the general public. It added that this activity also provides insights into the daily work life of a mechanic.
The company typically focuses on cars that are out of company warranty, which manly consists of cars that are two years old or more. The main target group of customers are people having cars that are 3-8 years of age, consisting of males aged from 25-45 years. MFC Services also mainly focuses on the top four selling brands of cars in the country - Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Hyundai and Mahindra, simply due to the fact that these four brands cumulatively constitute about 70 % of the market share. The ‘A Date With Your Car’ program is essentially a method that MFC Services is carrying out to build the trust among consumers on the multi-brand car service segment, by providing a transparent view of the process, spares and other aspects that go into vehicle servicing.
STEPS OF SERVICING
On arrival at an MFC Services centre, the customer is received by the service advisor, whose job is to communicate with the customer on the details of the vehicle, along with specific complaints if any. This is when a job card is created with the vehicle information, as well as specific checks to be made, based on the age of the vehicle and mileage run. This is followed by a road test, when the mechanic inspects variations in the car when driven on the road.
The service advisor, post the road test, explains about the various issues present in the vehicle to the customer, and provides an estimate on the cost that may be incurred following the servicing. Once the customer provides an approval, the vehicle is taken into the service area to begin with the actual servicing process.
As the vehicle enters the service bay, the first check is carried out on the ground for the battery voltage, as well as inspection of all the lights and electricals. The vehicle is then put onto the lift, where further inspection takes place. The first level of inspection on the lift is to check for fluids and electricals, and this is followed then by inspecting the wheel bearings, suspension towers and shock absorbers. Finally, inspections of the underbelly, fuel lines, exhaust system and gearbox lubricant are carried out to complete the inspection.
As each level of inspection is carried out, all the problem areas and issues are addressed and corrected. The vehicle is again taken for a road test after the servicing is completed, after which a 60-point checklist is carried out. The vehicle is then provided a water wash, before it is ready for delivery to the customer.
The MFC Services concept is a franchise model, where the company provides support in the form of branding, processes, spares. The company is said to be investing heavily into technology, since it can be big differentiation in terms of service provided, as well as to keep updated with the new models and their maintenance. The company’s focus on technology, along with the promotion of its business through the ‘A Date With Your Car’ program, is aimed to provide customers with a sense of trust towards the vehicle service and maintenance sector, which has been the main cause for concern.
TEXT: Naveen Arul
PHOTO: MFC Services