A new trend has appeared in the automotive world – Third Party Booking websites. These big companies have been around for awhile now in the accommodation sector and can be helpful. But – are they actually a good thing? Or are you paying for something you aren’t aware of? I have some insight into how these websites work. This may help you understand what your actually buying when you book an automotive service online.
Booking websites and apps like ‘AutoGuru’ are becoming popular and they are advertising aggressively. Well, advertising is not cheap! Have you ever considered how these booking sites come to have such massive advertising budgets, in order to achieve their massive presence online…? The fact is, YOU, ‘the consumer’ are paying for it! And your paying for their big profits too…
So, as a business owner, if I want to list my business on AutoGuru, it will cost me $600 per month, plus a healthy percentage of the overall job total. What this means is – a lot less profit for the business owner or in other words, the person providing the service. Also they are getting companies to compete for your business by only comparing the price, driving prices lower – which means less profit.
Now, at first, lower prices might sound good to the consumer, but it’s not. Here’s why:
- Lower profit for the service provider – means shortcuts may be taken to recoup loses. These shortcuts might be in the form of quality of parts, or time and care taken on the job.
- If the workshop is not profitable will they be around if you need warranty? Commonly the companies listed are new to business or not really great performers. All the quality workshops and mechanics I know don’t use these booking websites as they have plenty of work.
- By using a booking website, you are supporting a third party, who is completely unrelated to the service you hope to receive. You are paying two companies, rather than one!
- If you skip the messenger and ring direct to the mechanic/workshop, prices can often be matched or even lower, as the service provider doesn’t have to pay commission to the booking site.
- If there is less profit for the mechanic/workshop, some providers are then forced to push sales, or ‘up sell’ you on items that you don’t actually need.. Although this is certainly unethical, not all businesses have ethics at the forefront of their priorities, particularly when backed into a corner.
- You don’t actually know where these booking sites are owned and operated from – many of them operate remotely from non-Australian locations, which means you could be supporting non-Australian businesses without even knowing about it.
- Booking sites take and own your personal information. What do think they are doing with it? I have heard many rumours of the ‘Fixed Price car service’, before rebranding to ‘AutoGuru’, having litigation issues after selling personal information… I can’t confirm this.. but not a pleasant thought.
On the other end, for businesses thinking of using these services – DON’T! Heres why:
- When you use a booking site, you are spending your hard-earned money to advertise someone else’s business. If you took that budget and spent it on your own advertising, you would see far better and more sustainable, long-term results.
- Booking websites enter you into a competitive arena, pitting your business against all of the workshops in your region who are battling to be the cheapest to get the job. How do you make sure that the extravagant fees you pay for these sites will give you a reasonable return?
- Guess what, the booking site is now major competition to any service provider who doesn’t buy in.
- If we support this industry it will only get worse.
So, hopefully you now have a wider understanding of the factors at play when you book automotive services through third-party booking sites, and the impact that using these sites has on both you, the consumer, and the business owners. If you are someone who wants to do the right thing and support Australian owned small businesses, while ensuring you are on the receiving end of the best service at the best price, call your Automotive Service provider directly.