The Driveway Doctors

So - the main reason that I have been writing so much less on this site is because I have been working full time on launching my first company, The Driveway Doctors. We are trying to build the first software-centric car repair company. In addition to that, we offer on-site or mobile mechanic / mobile car repair services to our customers.

A lot of our customers ask "can you really do that on site?" The answer is generally yes. What most repair shops and dealerships don't want you to know is that the majority of repairs are actually quite simple. We have been open for almost two years now and we do about 75% of repairs can be done on site. Common issues such as brakes, check engine lights, and tune ups can all be done from the comfort of your home.

The benefits are that you never have to leave home or work (always nice), but more than that, you don't lose your car. When you drop your car off at a traditional repair shop they have complete control over it. They will often tell you that parts are taking days or weeks to shop up: they aren't. Parts are almost always delivered within hours. I can get parts for a 1974 Alpha Romeo Spyder delivered withing two hours to my shop. If a shop is telling you that parts are taking days or weeks to show up - they are lying to you. They are using that as an excuse for not fixing you car yet. The difference with us is that we come to you. You never lose your car, you can see us working on it, and if it does need parts, we want to get them to you as soon as possible. It's a different kind of car repair.

The other reason we are so different is because we don't pay mechanics "flat rate." Flat rate is the industry standard way of paying their mechanics. There is a book (website these days) which says exactly how many hours each job "takes." This is almost always significantly higher than the actual hours it would take a good mechanic to get the work done. When a shop tells you they worked on your car for six hours, they didn't. The book said it was a six hour job. They probably spent 2-3 working on your car. However, the mechanic who worked on your car gets paid for those six hours. And that is all they get paid. If they book 5 hours of work in a day, they get paid for 5 hours. If they book 15, they get paid for 15.

In other words, mechanics get paid based on the number of hours the job rates. The higher hours the job, the more they get paid. Naturally, they want to try and sell you on higher hour jobs. You show up for one thing, and all of a sudden you have a $2,000 estimate. Sound familiar? It's common because the mechanics are trying to make as much as they can off each job. You can't really blame them either: if the shop is slow and they are not booking work, they get paid nothing. Their income is traditionally really variable: in a good week they can "work" 100+ hours (while only actually working 50), but in a bad week, they might only book 20 (while actually working 50).

The Driveway Doctors is different. Our senior mechanics get paid salary with bonuses based on customer feedback. Our junior mechanics get paid hourly (real hourly) so they don't make anything more or less depending on what they sell to the customer. It is such a radically different model that we were told by many in the industry that it just was not possible. They would ask "how can you keep your guys motivated? How can you make sure you make money if you are paying them like that?" We keep our guys motivated by finding the best guys and giving them the opportunity to join a growing company, and getting a piece of that growth for themselves. And it is the company's job to show profitability, just like it is for any major company. It should not be up to the mechanics to sell unnecessary work in order to make payroll that week. It is a different kind of car company, and a different kind of service.

Thank You
Alexander Tallett
Founder of The Driveway Doctors

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