The term “disruptive technology” is much overused, especially in the world of mobile apps. There are loads of helpful ones – but utility and function are minimum requirements.
In order to be a genuine “disruptor,” an app must transform the way a large number of us do an ordinary thing. Like Uber, iTunes, Airbnb, and a small handful of others have turned major industries on their heads.
In order to be technologically disrupted, the target industry must be ripe for change. Better yet, be broken.
North America’s $320-billion-dollar-a-year automotive service industry is a beautiful example. Car owners drive up for an oil change on a wing and a prayer, or pay hundreds of dollars to an auto dealership for routine maintenance. It’s a rickety old model that has failed to evolve in the past century.
Upselling and plain-out fraud are rampant in the automotive repair industry –any undercover investigation invariably exposes a jaw-dropping number of guilty shops. CTV's W5 found that only six out of 19 garages properly identified a simple wiring problem. One-third of all the Calgary shops tested – including some big chain locations – charged hundreds of dollars for completely unnecessary repairs.
It's a story that’s played time and again, proving the problem is everywhere, industry-wide.
That's not just broken, it’s a write-off.
Enter Beep for Service. The new Calgary-born auto service finder app (folks just call it “Beep”) helps drivers avoid upselling, high prices, fraud and pressure tactics by empowering them to quickly shop for the best price nearby – then book and prepay for exactly the desired service, nothing more.
Trust ratings are included, and getting the right price and parts is ensured by a brilliantly simple input: scanning the vehicle’s VIN barcode. Mine took about three seconds to zap in the make, model and other specs needed to order most anything for my truck. I also scanned (not typed) my credit card details in a few more seconds. Comparing, scheduling and booking happens in surprisingly few taps.
This feels like the way it should be.
Beep is smart, easy, and solves deep-rooted problems that infuriate millions of vehicle owners every day.
Not hard to see why I’m saying it has potential to disrupt a massive and putridly messed-up industry model.
But if all this sounds like something you’ve heard before, you may be wondering a few things: who uses Beep, and are service providers actually coming on board? After all, why would a limping old-school auto repair garage pay a percentage of its sales to some hotshot and his mobile app?
Exposure is why. Brand-new Beep is nearing 50,000 installed users. That’s almost unheardof for a consumer app startup, and that growing mass of customers means survival to struggling providers. Adopting early and providing great service could secure a strong leadership position. (Feel free to forward this post to any auto repair shop owners you know.)
For those service providers, Beep fills scheduling gaps in an increasingly fragmented market, with prepaid new customers.
This is key: for an app like Beep to succeed, it needs a critical mass of users AND businesses in the system.
It’s happening, and the fast-growing list of service providers is soon to include some big-name chains.
Yet Beep doesn’t really need them: the app’s power is in how it gives small operators direct customer connectivity to out-compete the big boys. It can even be easier for a small shop staffed by stakeholders to compete on price and deliver service that nails down a high trust score. Most independents have either a terrible online presence or none at all, so Beep offers a great leap forward for the small commission it charges. Plus, those operators get to use Beep’s slick booking system for free.
So you can see where I’m going: the big players need to play by Beep’s new rules to stay relevant. And with their buy-in, the Beep revolution will be underway.
Building a company with the determination and staying power to rock a multibillion-dollar industry also takes a visionary, charismatic leader.
Check. Beep founder Matt Horne has the focus, perfectionism and drive of a Steve Jobs or an Elon Musk – except he’s much more human. A former national team athlete and the founder of Deco, the parking-lot tent business that revolutionized windshield repair, Matt knows what it takes to build a successful, fast-growth enterprise.
Matt (aka “Captain Orange”) is a talented pitchman, and a natural at securing the confidence of partners and investors. These days he’s working tirelessly to screen and sign up warranty-approved service providers, something the newly designed website is designed to facilitate. Matt’s mission is to make Beep, and the process of becoming a Beep Service Provider “Sesame Street simple.”
If you’re a driver, give Beep a try. Despite these are clearly early days, you’ll be amazed at its ease of use, and I think you will agree it’s the way auto services ought to be booked in the era of mobile apps. Beep is available for iPhone here.
Disclosure bit: my team and I are no strangers to Beep. Graphos designed the app’s branding and recently launched the Beep website, where vehicle owners can book online or send the app’s download link to a smartphone by SMS message, and automotive service providers can sign up to start getting prepaid bookings.
It’s been an inspiring journey so far, and an honour to be part of the Beep story. I invite your thoughts, and promise to share them all with the app’s User Experience and development teams!
Laurier Mandin is president of Graphos, the Edmonton web design company, branding consultancy and online marketing agency he founded in 1993.
Laurier Mandin is president of Graphos, the Edmonton web design company, branding consultancy and digital marketing agency he founded in 1993.
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