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Workshops just a tap away

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IT’S only normal that our car eventually breaks down and needs to be repaired, have its engine overhauled or parts replaced. But it’s not that simple of a task.

In fact, we may find ourselves hopping from one workshop to another, sometimes to get recommendations on those that can carry out specific jobs. If that isn’t daunting enough, there are other issues such as the availability of mechanics or car parts, as well as the capabilities of these individuals to work on specific car models.

On the bright side though, finding the right people to do repairs on your car may now be less hassling, thanks to a mobile app called CarBengkel.

Think of it this way: Other than getting your way to a destination using your smartphone’s GPS, you can now browse and locate workshops to do the dirty works.

The CarBengkel app is a Malaysian-based startup launched in May 26 2015. By using the app, car owners are able to request for price quotations for all kinds of services and repairs, have their cars picked up and even schedule their next appointment.

“CarBengkel is a product of the collaboration between Cradle Fun and the Malaysia Automotive Institute. This project is part of our government’s initiatives to place high emphasis in improving services in the local automotive industry for the benefits of the general public, in line with the 2014 National Automotive Policy,” CarBengkel managing director Datuk Armin Baniaz Pahamin told Cars Bikes & Trucks.

Cradle Fun Sdn Bhd is an agency under the Finance Ministry.

So, what’s the story behind CarBengkel?

Well, what began with a series of questions on after-sales services–from the nearest service centres to tyre shops to the best after-market parts stores and towing service providers – from Armin’s circle of friends and acquaintances soon turned into an opportunity to build an app which could provide the answers.

“After setting up the CarBengkel app, it’s easier for me to respond to customers whenever they ask me these sorts of questions,” he says.

With CarBengkel, customers can benefit from five features, in particular, including Breakdown, Pickup Service, Drive in, Quotation and Scheduler. To register an account with CarBengkel, users may do so by using their existing Facebook, Twitter or Google+ account.

CarBengkel is linked to Waze and Google Maps, and this means that a customer is able to easily navigate his or her way to a workshop as recommended by the app.

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“Sometimes, car owners are too busy or overwhelmed by their jobs, to the point where they forget to schedule maintenance works for their cars. The ‘Scheduler’ feature, for example, requires a customer to enter his vehicle’s current mileage and the app will automatically calculate his next service and post a reminder when the due date is around the corner,” says Armin.

He added that this is very crucial as new cars nowadays come with up to seven years warranty, which makes it too easy for their owners to miss a scheduled maintenance, therefore, instantaneously voiding their warranty.
“For those inexperienced and do not know how to describe their problems, they make snap pictures of the damages and send it for ‘pre-diagnosis’ on CarBengkel, and get a brief repair cost quotation thereafter,” Armin explains.

Similarly, users can also record soundbites, for example, of knocking engines, abnormal engine sounds or those coming from squeaking absorbers.

CarBengkel serves as an avenue for workshop owners or operators who wish to expand their presence both online and in the physical market. As of May 2015, CarBengkel noted about3000 registered workshops nationwide in its system.

“Each workshop applying to be part of CarBengkel’s network will undergo background checks by us before we give them our seal of approval. This is standard procedure to ensure stress-free business transactions between both workshop operators and their customers,” Armin tells us.

The better part of subscribing to CarBengkel’s services is really for a better experience dealing with budget and mechanics, as well as purchasing convenience, according to Armin.

“Many workshops have problems with their inventories. They have car parts supplied from manufacturers, but it is not so easy to sell the parts. Customers have their own preferences.

With CarBengkel, the workshops can post pictures of new parts or alert customers on their current promotions.”
The app is free for download, and does not require any registration fee.

“A workshop is only charged RM5 for every successful transaction that they accept from a job requested by customer. That is a small amount, regardless of the invoice amount charged by the workshop to the customer. We maintain the fee at a nominal amount as to avoid the workshop from passing the costs down to their customers. Workshops really have nothing to lose to be part of CarBengkel,” Armin explains.

For someone who has been proactive in the local automotive scene, holding the position of deputy president of the Proton Edar Dealers Association since 2000, Armin does not deny that getting CarBengkel to the top of its game is challenging.

“Our toughest challenge thus far is training workshop operators to properly use and utilise our app. We are also working to further strengthen our networks and structures before imposing actual marketing strategy for CarBengkel later on,” he says.
Last year, CarBengkel won the VISA Retail Innovation Award 2015, was shortlisted as one of the nominees of the Top 7 SME Innovation Challenge 2015 and the Echelon Thailand’s Top Five startups.

*For more information on CarBengkel, visit www.carbengkel.com or download the app via Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

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