Question: What do you get when you combine one of the most robust car care programs with the nation’s #1 car repair referral service?
Answer: A partnership whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
That’s exactly what the Parts Plus Car Care Center program offers its customers through their partnership with RepairPal.
“The quick version is that RepairPal is the largest, most trusted auto repair network for high quality and fair prices,” says Jill Trotta, vice president and general manager of sales and RepairPal Express. In her eight years with the company, Davis has seen RepairPal’s network of shops grow from around 100 to over 2,700 in 49 states.
Over time, RepairPal has culled its clientele to only include the highest quality shops. With over 40 corporate partners (including Parts Plus), however, RepairPal has a robust ability to drive sensible consumers to those shops with a legacy of excellent repair service and thousands upon thousands of no-comeback referrals.
“We work with partners like CarMax, Consumer Reports, USAA, Verizon Wireless and more,” says J’aime Davis (senior manager, marketing content).
“The Parts Plus Car Care Center program also attracts higher quality shops. We’re a good fit for each other. We gain traffic through our website and partner traffic, and that’s the primary way we deliver jobs to those shops.”
Trotta is quick to point out that RepairPal isn’t a discounting platform, nor does it require one; it’s merely a means to an end for its partner vendors (such as PP).
“The RO value of our partner shops is the main reason Parts Plus probably found us,” she says. “The average RO of our referred shops is $600 - $800. We don’t do the repairs—we merely connect drivers to those who do. That’s our culture.”
RepairPal for Repair Profit
RepairPal is a juggernaut in the contemporary shop repair industry. With over six million visitors per month to the website, the casual traffic is nothing to shake a wrench at—their numbers are real, their savings are real, and the peace of mind and quality repairs they offer for their partners via their network is very real.
“Take USAA, for example,” Trotta says, “they’re built on trust. Their members trust them. If someone who has USAA insurance needs a repair, they’ll go to wherever USAA recommends. In our case, USAA may refer them to one of our shops, and those are customers that shops in our network would never have seen or have had access to; from merely being in our network, those shops receive 9-12 new leads per month and with the partner program may receive even more.”
“The partners create the flow to send consumers through our referred shops,” Davis adds, “and it doesn’t hurt that Consumer Reports certified shops are RepairPal certified shops.”
In fact, RepairPal is the largest consumer-facing automotive repair website. During this particularly trying year, the average traffic has ebbed and flowed a bit, “but historically its six millions visitors a month.”
That’s a lot of consumers looking for quality shops, and that’s a lot of money via the average RO. Especially during the pandemic.
“No one knew what was going to happen during COVID, but our partners sent so many repairs to our shops that some called us and said, ‘This is helping to keep our doors open,’ ” says Davis.
What sets RepairPal apart as a partner—and what helps make Parts Plus Car Care Center program shops who partner through it successful—is the fair price estimator, a free tool users can access to ascertain the best shop for any given repair.
“Many people automatically assume that you can’t trust auto repair shops. As a consumer, however, when you go to our site, our estimator shows you the prices of how much it will cost and the shops within our network will fall within that estimate. We guarantee that that shop will give you that price—it’s 100 percent transparent. That’s an experience that people aren’t used to and that you won’t get anywhere else.”
The estimator tool is much like a well-worn cast-iron pan; the more it’s used, the better it gets.
“On the shop side, if our estimator is inaccurate, they submit the discrepancy to us,” Trotta explains. RepairPal-certified shops are then privy to a brief and simple reimbursement process.
“We do a short investigation, and we pay the shop the difference and correct the estimator. As time goes on, the more shops we work with, the more accurate the estimates are and the more trust is built between all parties—the shop, the driver and RepairPal.”
As far as Parts Plus is concerned, RepairPal’s appeal lies in the sense that they’re all on the same side.
“We're for consumers in the repair and long-term care of their cars, but we're also for shops that are for consumers,” she says. “Those are the shops we want in our network.”
Davis loves the fact that RepairPal’s ability to leverage the larger community of which they’re a part under the umbrella of Parts Plus means that the independent shop can compete on a much larger scale.
“Some shops don’t see that; you do good work, you have fair prices and do the right thing, but you don’t know how to leverage that against the stereotype,” Davis says.
“We help you overcome that. It’s a transparent experience.”
“The estimator is designed to support the shops doing it right,” Trotta adds. “We’ve been doing this since 2007 and we know a lot about it—I challenge people to see if they can find more accurate data. We don’t chop the country up and apply labor rates; we dig into each zip code and determine the fair labor rate for each one. For example, Oakland rates are cheaper than San Francisco rates, as you might imagine. Our specified labor rates aren’t arbitrary.”
And neither are their numbers, data or quality of recorded repairs.
No Shop is an Island
For shops already a part of the Parts Plus Car Care Center program, getting vetted by partners like RepairPal is easy. After a small application fee, RepairPal sends an application, learns a bit about the shop, and depending upon how fast the owner or operator completes the process, a shop could join the Parts Plus / RepairPal continuum in under two weeks—less than one pay period.7
“Shops will get more customers, leads and increases in repair orders,” Davis says, “and as our brand grows and gains more recognition, being recognized as a shop that a third party like ours has vetted is really beneficial.”
More than anything, they receive a dedicated account manager. The AM supports them and is just a phone call or email away. They help ensure that member shops’ profile listings have great photos, vivid descriptions and high Google rankings. RepairPal is proactive in their support and communication with member shops, attempting to lift their business and visibility as much as possible.
“No shop is on their own,” Davis says, “we’re with them on the whole journey.”
Question: Should you contact Parts Plus to learn more about their partner programs, including (but not limited to) assets like RepairPal?
Answer: Of course you should. Here’s a good place to start.