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Q&A: Mobile Repair Giant Wrench Discusses Growth Plan

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Last week, mobile repair service Wrench, Inc. launched a partnership with Carvana, an e-commerce platform for customers to buy used cars. With this partnership, Wrench is offering Carvana customers a free oil change to sample Wrench’s services.

The start-up is two years old and has already serviced over 35,000 cars in its eight markets, including five major markets in Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Phoenix and Las Vegas. In the next 30 days, Wrench says it will roll out its services to the Bay Area, Southern California and Sacramento.

Ratchet+Wrench spoke with Wrench CEO Ed Petersen to learn more about the partnership and Wrench’s growth plans going forward.

 

How did this partnership with Carvana come about? Why did it make sense for Wrench?

They’re a marketplace for car sales, they’re a retail car site. They don’t have a dealership, a floor, allow you to view old dealerships on the site. In some markets they have vending machines and codes. Their whole model is built around convenience for the user. We just launched this partnership, and it’s being very well-received by their customer base.

What we really bring to the table is an extension of that customer hitch where you buy a car, and as you drive it, you need maintenance and repair. Instead of having to take it to a shop or a dealer, or plan your day around getting maintenance and repair, we do those services on your time and your schedule and we come to you.

With the process of taking of taking your car to a shop or dealership, your car is away from you for at least a day. And it’s a massive inconvenience. Our average job is about two hours, so the downtime you have with your vehicle is negligible. That pitch resonates well, it really resonates well with the Carvana audience as well.

 

What has your feedback been so far?

It just launched today in Phoenix and Las Vegas. Overwhelming response. Usually a pretty optimistic person, but I did not expect to receive the demand we received. It’s been great. I think it resonates.

We’re in this culture of convenience that has taken over. I want my movies on demand, I want my food delivery brought to me. There is just a culture of convenience, and I think this is just another example of that and how this expectation is driving new ways for consumers to think about services and deliveries of their services. You want an extension of that convenience factor, and you want it done in a very reliable way.

 

It seems like mobile repair is really taking off. A lot of shops and independent businesses are taking this on. Do you view this as a model that can really expand nationwide, or just in major cities?

I think it’ll go everywhere. The key is going deep though, for us. We want to be a brand in certain cities.Without a doubt we’ll go nationwide. We don’t need to go nationwide tomorrow, but we need to grow very very fast. Once you’ve built that platform that scales, the sky's the limit. There’s great opportunity for a true vertical brand in this space.

To create a brand, you have to have some depth to the market. Right now we’ll only go to a city if there’s a pro sports team there. That’s one of the checkboxes we look at is city size, and we want to have a good market share in the city.

 

What kind of range do your services have in a city?

When I say city I really mean market. Seattle is our most mature market. There’s Takoma, 30 some odd miles south, then there’s a big military base down there. We go down to the base, Takoma, then we go out to Woodinville. It is a big market. We regionalize markets when we go in. For instance, we just launched Dallas, but you won’t see us in Fort Worth this week. We’ll be in downtown up to Frisco.

As we continue to grow, we’ll hire more and more mechanics. We try to hire as many mechanics as possible right out of the blocks. We’re spending time making sure mechanics are supported correctly, are an integral part of the team, and making sure the experience for our customers has been consistently high.  We’ll add more coverage in regions and open it up more to zip codes.

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