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Mike Risich is the founder of a nine-year software company, recognized for five years as one of the fastest growing companies in Philadelphia.
What is particularly impressive in this respect is that its Bolt On technology focused on automotive repair, a service sector that is full of doubts, some would say that they are much stronger, about mechanics and their recommendations.
“There are two places that compete for the top spot among Americans: the dentist and the car repairman,” Risich said. “One hurts the jaw, the other the wallet”.
Apart from taking over, Risich can not erase the pain of the car repair bill. He wants to eliminate what he and industry experts consider an important factor that contributes to this discomfort: the client’s distrust.
Bolt transforms the transparency of services into texts, photos and videos shared electronically. Think of it as another tool in the garage: it has been necessary for the last 15 years because people were not waiting for their car checked. According to Risich, as customers left their vehicles and went to work, to the gym or to bed to go to bed, the hours of inactivity of the mechanics increased.
“The staff of my telephone support service called customers by phone” to explain the necessary repairs and get corrective measures, Bowe said. “Nobody answers the phone anymore, there was a car in the bay hanging just for delaying productivity.”
When an answer came, usually a few hours later, I was in the midst of persistent doubts: should the brakes really be replaced? Was this belt really thrown away? Is this defective sensor really important?
In this environment of doubt, Risich, a graduate of Bensalem high school who followed technical studies and then worked in software development, saw the opportunity to undertake.
He founded Bolt On with two business partners to provide garages with digital methods to share external videos and photos related to their vehicles with their customers. According to Risich, if the radiator leaks or the tires worn, there will confidence between the owner of the vehicle and the service station. This should give the former more confidence in a repair decision and, in the latter case, more sales.
“It is unfortunate that the popular opinion in the automotive sector is that we take a walk,” said Risich. “This is due in large part to the fact that most of us do not know the complexity of what makes the car work, we know that the key is in the front and the fuel in the back and that everything else must repaired by we “.
Risich defends the macro-level repair sector, promoting “like many departmental stores” with owners and technicians who deal with problem-solving, “but because of our fear of the unknown, we do not constantly feel value for the dollar. .. We really want to help change that popular opinion. ”
Bolt On’s monthly subscriptions, which are typical $ 400 per user, have grown steadily, said Frank Dragoni, director of sales and trade associations. Revenues in 2017 exceeded $ 6.5 million, up from $ 4.5 million in 2016 and $ 3.2 million in 2015, according to the company’s bid for Philadelphia 100, a project of the Greater Philadelphia Entrepreneurs Forum. identifying fast-growing local businesses. Bolt We made the list for each of the last five years. He did not look for angel investors, supporting their growth through the sale of subscriptions, Risich said.
Bolt It expected that 20 million photos share on your system in mid-November, twice as many as a years ago. The growth would probably be even stronger without the many older workers in the auto repair industry, Risich said.
“We are asking a community that really faces technological challenges to use new tools to continue doing its job, while the tradition has been” Well, that’s how we have always done it, “he said.” This industry is notoriously busy the workers of the previous generation. ”
The latest technological breakthrough in the industry dates back to about ten years ago, when service stations switched to customer-oriented management systems or CRM, allowing reminders of electronic services and special promotions for customers. Owners of vehicles that replaced postcards and vouchers.
The Box Exxon Car Care Center has seen many changes since the death of his father, Edward Bowe, in 1955.
The new automotive technology “has certainly raised investment issues and equipment for independent repair shops,” said his son Kevin. “Software vendors like Bolt On really helped.”
There are others, he says, but none integrated with the existing software systems of the service centers.
Only in the last four months, Bowe said it was too early to quantify its impact on sales, but for one client, “I think we are doing a better job internally by presenting a complete picture of the state. The vehicle, calls you and says: “Your car needs brakes; They are metal to metal, “we can show you an image of what a good brake system is like and an image of your car in the store”.
This, in turn, helps make faster repair decisions and optimizes vehicle handling, which is especially useful for a store with limited space, such as Bowe’s Exxon with its three service bays. Although customers not able to answer phone calls during a business meeting, communication by SMS is easy and discreet.
“This delay in not being able to reach a client for one or two hours paralyzed all day,” said Bowe.
Rob Gemmell, a 33-year sales representative for cabinetmakers, left his mobile office, a Kia Sportage 2017, at Bowe’s Exxon on Saturday for an inspection, oil change and brake control, and returned home. A few hours later, when he received a text message and photos that left him “quite surprised,” said the Conshohocken resident.
“I’ve never seen a mechanic do that before,” he said. In the end, what he saw (signs of potentially dangerous wear on the front brakes) convinced him that repairs were necessary.
“No one wants to pay a lot of money to repair a car,” said Gemmell, whose bill was $ 620. “If you can see it, help.”
Risich compared Bolt On’s objectives with the type of shipping transparency that Amazon customers have adopted or even demanded: real-time tracking of their packages.
“A lot of this technology has already been implemented and used in other areas of our lives,” he said. “We’re just trying to integrate it into the automotive experience.”
Mike Risich is trying to grow a software company that depends on auto repair in the face of this brutal reality: “Two places argue that Americans are the first, they are the dentist and the auto repair shop,” said the founder. and CEO of Bolt On Technology. “One hurts the jaw, the other the wallet”. Recognizing that the auto repair industry has many customers who do not trust the process, Bolt-On has decided to help build trust between the parties through technology. Mobile and digital tools allow repair shops to share videos and photos of repair orders and work in progress with customers to improve communications and build trust, all for profit for service centers.