The automotive after-sales service in the digital age
Last July, the PSA Group announced the acquisition of a stake in Autobutler, an online quote platform for automotive aftermarket services.
In order to get to know this company better, we asked a few questions to Christian Legêne and Peter Ziegler, its co-founders, and to Christophe Musy, PSA Group’s Aftermarket Director.
What is Autobutler?
Christian Legêne and Peter Ziegler: The company was actually born out of necessity. Six years ago, we were at Christian’s parents’ summer house when Peter realised he needed to get his car serviced. Being digital natives, we naturally looked for a reputable garage online. But many didn’t even have a webpage, and we couldn’t find prices or compare reviews of the garages listed. There was an obvious need for transparency. We thought it should be much easier to get Peter’s car fixed, and decided to combine our digital understanding with a network of reputable garages. The idea for Autobutler was born!
Quite simply, Autobutler makes it easy for car owners to get in contact with quality approved garages, request and compare quotes and select the best offer. The initial request is sent immediately to a large number of local quality-checked garages, who can send back a customised quote for the job at hand.
Car owners can compare and choose which workshop they’d like to visit based on other customer reviews and the quality of the garage. Autobutler has attracted more than 300,000 registered customers in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the UK since it was launched. The Company employees 40 people and has achieved average annual growth in created customers of 40.3% over the last two years.
One of the most interesting things we’ve found is that when offered detailed quotes from three garages, car owners don’t necessarily pick the least expensive offer. More often than not, they choose their mechanic based on how fast they get an offer, how the garage replies in its e-mails, the details in the offer, ratings from other customers, the availability of a loaner car, and the next available appointment. And you know what? All these areas of a garage business are variables that can be easily adjusted – thereby increasing the number of accepted jobs.
What does PSA Group’s investment bring you?
CL & PZ: First of all, the alliance with PSA Group will enable us to expand much faster – both in terms of product and geography and in terms of customers (car owners and garages).
We are particularly happy because PSA Group is probably the global automotive group with the most advanced focus on digitalisation. PSA Group has already taken major steps with the Push to Pass strategy, and for a pure digital company like ours, you were the only player in the automotive industry to join. We would have rejected most other automotive groups because they lack a proper strategy for the digital transformation. But PSA Group seems to have embraced digitalisation and taken advantage of the platforms and digital services that customers demand.
What will Autobutler bring to PSA Group’s multibrand aftermarket strategy?
Christophe Musy: The PSA aftermarket ambition is to fulfil all customers’ aftersales expectations worldwide, regardless of their purchasing power or the make and age of their vehicle.
This ambition led us to develop targeted offers for the three types of customers we have identified (Reassurance, Smart Buy and Best Cost), by leveraging our leadership across channels in after-sales service (Approved Repairers, Independent Repairers, and e-commerce).
We have made recently major steps to implement this strategy, including the acquisition of Mister-Auto, a leading e-commerce company, in 2015 to address “Best Cost” customers; the powerful deployment of our multi-brand Euro Repar Car Service Network as from 2016; and the launch of the Independent Aftermarket parts distribution business in July 2016 for “Smart Buy” customers.
The recent acquisition of an equity interest in Autobutler strengthens our multibrand aftermarket offering, particularly for the “smart buyers” who are looking for the best value for the money. More and more customers look for prices on the Internet before going to a repair shop, and they want to compare different offers. They do the same thing for insurance, hotel reservations, etc., and we are convinced that this will be a fast-growing trend in the automotive industry. We need to better meet the needs of those customers, and we will do that with Autobutler!
This acquisition will help the Group develop business in its own networks, expand its customer base, attract new independent auto repair shops, and improve its expertise in digital aftermarket services.