WELLESLEY, Mass. — It's one thing to tell a customer what you've done for them, but it's another thing entirely to show them.
That's exactly what GetTransparency, a Wellesley-based video application and analytics firm has set out to do to help the automotive service industry.
The firm was co-founded in late 2014 by Joe Shaker, owner of Shaker Auto Group Inc., in Waterbury, Conn., and Douglas Chrystall, a founder of multiple start-up technology firms. Its intention was to give auto service departments — both in car dealerships and independent repair shops — the ability to bring customers into the service bay digitally, using a proprietary video app.
Using the app — available for Android, with an iOS version expected soon — technicians can record and narrate a vehicle video overview, discussing what's wrong (as well as what isn't) with the car before sending the customer a Web link to the streamed video. The purpose of this is to create a transparent experience for the customer, helping to establish confidence and trust in the service department's recommendations.
The company, which began marketing the app to clients in April of last year, based its technology on a similar offering by the United Kingdom-based firm CitNOW, which has promoted using video in the service bay for the past three to four years, according to GetTransparency COO Warner Jones.
“Instead of waiting for them to come to the U.S. or trying to partner with them or something like that, we decided we'd build our own mousetrap, if you will, specifically for the U.S. market with customization that applies to the U.S. market and U.S. pricing,” he said.
While the idea and the technology were straightforward enough, a lot of work goes into building the ideal auto service video app, Mr. Jones told Tire Business.
“In practice there are a lot of moving parts,” he said. “It's a simple concept, and people get it—it's the Web, and it plays like a YouTube video—but there are a lot of details around it. The devil's in the details.
“We've spent the last 12 months perfecting the service, perfecting the rollout, understanding how we need to do training, understanding how we motivate the technicians to take the videos, the service advisers and really structuring the business so that now we can scale,” Mr. Jones continued. “We're sort of in that mode now that we've got our app out there.”
Barry Steinberg, owner of Watertown, Mass.-based Direct Tire & Auto Service, beta tested GetTransparency's video tool last year at one of his four tire and automotive service outlets and has since implemented it at all of the dealership's locations. He told Tire Business when the company opens its fifth location, in Medway, Mass., it will use the video app there, too.
“Fifteen years ago we had mechanics working for us because cars were mechanical,” Mr. Steinberg said. “Now we have technicians working for us because cars are technical.
“It's a lot easier to show somebody a technical issue with their vehicle vs. something explained mechanically,” he added. “The video allows us to cut through the technology stuff that a lot of people don't understand.”
According to Mr. Steinberg, Direct Tire works on 150 to 200 cars per day and its technicians send out between 30 and 40 videos to customers, who “just absolutely love it.”
“It makes the understanding of the auto repair easier,” he said. “It makes the explanation of what (the car) needs, why it needs it and what they came in for easier.
“That rattle? This is what's rattling—this rear sway bar link is what's rattling—and you can see the movement.”
More importantly, he said, it makes customers more likely to agree to maintenance and repairs his business recommends.
“We're getting away from what the repair is to how impressed (consumers) are with the fact that we want them to see what we're doing,” Mr. Steinberg said. “It's not a shirt-and-tie selling it to them—it's a technician showing them.
“The transparency, which people appreciate, is something I can't put a price tag on.”