Introduction/What is it?
“We’re bringing the auto repair industry into the internet age with our membership services, from factory trained technicians, such as: Q&A directly with a technician, repair estimate review and break down to help ensure accuracy of diagnosis while avoiding frivolous charges, all the way up to video conferencing with a technician via Skype, plus a ton of extra features. The next wave of innovation in the auto repair industry starts right here with us.”
Hello everyone we’re the My Check Engine Light team. Our purpose is to deliver control of the auto repair process to the consumer at a level each individual is comfortable with. We started out in May of 2014 with a site that lists the most basic, and universal, Pcodes that can turn on the check engine light in your car, and we’ve explained in laymen’s terms what these Pcodes actually mean to you the driver. In each Pcode we’ve got defined, we’ve got information about the theory side of what happened, as well as the practical side by giving a common sense list of what caused your particular Pcode in order of most likely to least likely. We finish off the Pcode explanation with a recommendation on where to buy the parts.
We had a page dedicated on how to turn off the check engine light for those of our visitors who wanted to get just that one piece of information they came for quickly, if thats all they were after, and be on their way. We also offered was an estimate review service. This was the only part of the first iteration of the website that anyone would have to pay for at $9.99 per review. With this service we were able to look over a customer’s repair estimate and let them know if the repairs suggested fit the issues they were actually experiencing, as well as let customer’s know if a suggested repair was really necessary. Think in terms of going to the mechanic for a check engine light and being told the brake fluid needs to be flushed, even though the oxygen sensor is what was needed to repair the check engine light, as well as reviewing the diagnostic information from the Pcodes the customer experienced, and making sure the suggested primary repair fit with the indicated problem with the vehicle. With the estimate review service we've save people from being double charged for parts, charged for labor that was significantly more than what the job should've cost, and even help 1 person in California expose insurance fraud! We dedicated that site to helping people save money and it worked.
During the almost 3 years (we took the site down on 03-31-2017 to prepare for the new site) we had this site up, the main service we offered was a question and answer service (via a contact form on the website, then conducted through email after the initial contact) with a technician. Some customers would exceed 100 emails with questions and we faithfully answered them all with down-to-earth advice on what the customer could reasonably expect to repair on their own, and when it was time to visit a professional. We answered with detailed wiring diagrams, component location pictures, and diagnostic flow charts when the situation called for it. We even had quite a lot of repair shops contact us with questions regarding electrical testing and transmission repair. We had quite an international audience as well- we’ve helped solve car problems in places like Kenya, Tajikistan, Libya, and more. Our site was visited by 192 of the 195 countries in the world. From 06-01-2016 through the end of the day 12-31-2016 we averaged 18,709 page views and 8,971 unique users per month. We were visited by 119 countries during this 6 month stretch. Here's a screenshot of our Google analytics during that time period.
This production was handicapped though from what it could have been. The site has been redesigned once already, and unfortunately, we were taken advantage of slightly. At first glance we got the upgrades we paid for, but on further inspection it was found that the site had “28 different versions of CSS held together with a band-aid” I believe was the exact quote from my new IT professional we hired after this fiasco took place. This had chaotic effects on the site regularly. A lot of time was spent patching things back up to work, just to have something else go wrong in a week or 2. As a result of all of this, the traffic illustrated here on the Google Analytics graphic is without the benefit of any advertising, social media activity, or even basic SEO. This was all organic traffic to a broken site. We decided there were major repairs to be done and we needed to consider a new strategy.
Where we are currently and our membership benefits
After thousands of answered questions we found the most commonly recurring personal sentiments we heard from our customers were things like “What other services do you offer?" "I honestly didn't expect an answer” “I never expected this level of service" "Can I call you?" Or "Here's my phone number”. After some reflection we realized our customers were telling us they wanted more from us. They were telling us they wanted even more access to us as technicians, and going forward they want more features. More importantly they were telling us they would be happy to pay for the upgraded services and features as well as having us available full time.
At this point we contacted a digital marketing/branding expert in Dublin, Ireland- MPJT Consulting. We worked tirelessly with Matt, the owner, for 5 months and came up with a monthly membership site that offers a wide variety of services and level of value to our customers. (NOTE: See the table below for the full break down of pricing without the in-depth explanation of services rendered)
Here's a quick preview of what the site looks like currently. It's still got a ways to go but is coming out fantastic!
Here's the rewards list:
Everyone that donates to our project at any level will have their name on our Hall Of Fame page that we'll be adding to the site once we've been successfully funded
Exclusive blog posts on a wide variety of auto repair related topics
3 free estimate reviews per month. We’re offering 3 per customer per month for our savvy members that want to get competing estimates, or for households with more than 1 vehicle. This is a great way to protect your hard earned money. After the 3 free, any additional estimate reviews will be at full retail price of $9.99 each.
Repair videos that cover everything from the most minor aspect of vehicle repair, diagnostic procedures such as a fuel pressure test, up to overhauling a transmission. Retail on the beginner level videos is $0.99 to stream for 24 hours and $2.99 to own. Retail on the intermediate level videos will be $2.99 to stream for 24 hours and $6.99 to own. The beginner and intermediate level videos will be free to stream or to download and keep with a paid membership.The major repairs will be offered as single videos, or collectively as a whole digital class. Most of these series will be 4-6 videos of 30 minutes. The advanced videos are offered at a great discount of over 45% off on single videos and 35% off on the full video course. Retail is $27.99 per video and $139.99 for the full course. After the member discount is applied that will bring the price down to $14.99 per video and $89.99 for a course. The courses will be download only.
3 free Q&A emails. We define the Q&A emails as 1 communication submitted and one response provided. This will allow the customer the flexibility to ask us about any car they choose to. It can be their own vehicle, their spouse’s vehicle, or their neighbor’s vehicle. This will eliminate the problem of one person of the household having a membership and not being able to use it for other vehicle’s in the household, as well as being fair to us for our service and being able to earn additional customers/revenue. The entire Q&A system will be stored internally in the website. The customer will post a question and will log back in to see the response. After the first 3, the next 4 Q&A emails will be over 75% off, and any after that return to full retail price. Full retail price is $8.99 per Q&A email and after the member discount is applied it will be $1.99 per Q&A email exchange once the free ones have been used.
1 Skype with a mechanic call. The Skype with a mechanic service is completely unique to us. No one else in the world is offering this to their auto repair customers. We can physically see to help with electrical diagnosis, wiring repair, re-assembly of something that’s been taken apart, we can go along for test drives to help pinpoint drivability concerns, we can look at scanners in real time to help with the diagnostic readings obtained, and more. The possibilities for this service are incredible really. After the free Skype call the member can purchase 3 additional calls for over 40% off. Retail price is $47.99 per 20 minute call and after the member discount is applied the price is $27.99 once the free call has been used. The Skype calls will be regulated at 20 minutes each. No more than 2 per customer per day in the initial stages of the site launch. This policy may potentially change as more staff is added. The calls can be booked back to back if needed. At the time of scheduling for a Skype call the member will accept the terms and conditions before the process is allowed to move forward. After the T&C have been acknowledged there is a form that must be filled out so that preliminary research can be done, allowing the call to be focused solely on problem diagnosis and resolution.
Automatic entry into any current contests that are being offered. We're starting off the launch of the new site with a customer appreciation giveaway. We'll be giving away 1 Mac Tools scanner, 1 $150 Visa giftcard, and 1 $50 Visa giftcard. The giveaway is only for members and not for any other purchases. As an exclusive offer to our Kickstarter backers, we're giving an entry to the giveaway as part of several reward levels. We plan to have customer appreciation giveaways once per quarter and see how it is received. If it does well for us in garnering new members, as well as encouraging return members, the contests will continue and increase in value.
All of this is being offered at $27.99 per month or yearly for $299 which is over 10% off of the monthly rate. All of these benefits reset every month there is a paid membership. If a member chooses not to renew after their membership expires, their information will be stored for up to 1 year before being purged from the server.
Our member shops will receive:
We offer this membership service to professional repair facilities as well. The cost is $97.99 per month or yearly for $999, a savings of almost 15% off of the monthly rate. The cost of the repair shop membership is higher because the level of the technical skill and knowledge required to provide service to this customer base will be much greater.
The same pricing on videos as our single customers.
6 free Q&A emails. After the first 6 emails, the next 6 will be over 65% off, and any after that will revert back to full retail price. Retail is $17.99 per Q&A and after the member discount is applied it comes down to $6.99 per for the next 6. As with our single consumer customers our repair shop customers can use these emails at their discretion for any vehicles they choose, or any needed diagnosis/repair consultation.
1 free Skype call per month. The next 4 will be 45% off of the retail price and any after that will return to full retail price. Retail for the repair shop level membership Skype call is $87.99 per 20 minute call and after the member discount is applied it will be $47.99 per for the next 4.
Automatic entry into any current contest we’re running. In a lot of cases we’ll be giving away scanners, or diagnostic equipment that a repair shop would find very useful.
We’ve also got additional combinations of the services we offer, if that’s all a particular customer would like to use. The pricing is set to favor buying a membership, because this is also the best possible option for us. We hope to build long term relationships with our members and will use these discounted prices as a way of saying thank you.
The future of My Check Engine Light
As we’ve already described in great detail, we’re in the final stages of building a one-of-a-kind website and service that will be launching by mid July 2017. By the beginning of December 2017 we will begin taking quotes for building an app and have it completed by late spring to early summer of 2018. We want to make this service as accessible and convenient to our membership as we possibly can. By the end of December 2017 we plan to employ 1 more full time technician, possibly 2, and I’ve got a team of 10 phenomenal technicians ready to go when the demand is present, so we can scale as fast as is necessary to accommodate our members in the short to intermediate term. We’re starting with 2: myself and one of my best friends Michael Brown. Between us we’ve got over 40 years of experience in fixing everything from chainsaws, to farm equipment, to the most technically advanced transmissions riding in the brand new vehicles hitting the streets in the current model year of vehicles.
2018 and beyond
Within our first full year in business we’ll begin having the website translated into different languages, starting with the most widely used and proceeding from there as the demographics of our customer base dictate what is needed.
One thing we intend to do with keeping all of the communications internal to the site is to build a searchable database for specific year/make/model combos of conditions we’ve actually had reported to us and their eventual conclusions. Once we’ve accumulated enough data to make this a useable tool, we’ll begin making it available.
In the next 3-5 years, as we expand our audience, our global presence, and our staff, we plan to partner with a scanner company to make an even better product, as well as a new level of membership, available to our customers. More will be revealed on that once contracts are in place and wheels are in motion.
Plan of action:
We’d like to take the beginning of this section to quickly outline the resources we’ve already laid out because we feel it’s important to let our backers know that we’re not coming here asking to lay the full financial risk on them. We want everyone to see we’re deeply invested in this project as well.
Things we've already bought/paid for:
Initial website build in March of 2014 - $3,000
Upgrades to the website layout and aesthetics in August through September of 2015 - $1,500
Marketing and consulting services beginning in August of 2016 to current day - $7,250
Advertising for the life of the site to current day - approximately $4,500 between Facebook, Twitter, and Google Adwords
Design & build of the new website from December 2016 to current day - $11,000
Equipment: Macbook pro that I’m writing on currently, March of 2014 $2,200, iPad pro $500
Transmission work bench (used in the making of several videos) - $750
Mid range scanner - $500
For a total of $32,400 out of pocket as of this writing on 05-14-2017
There’s no good way to even put a monetary value on this, but the literal hundreds upon hundreds of hours that have been spent working for this business, such as: writing all of the 100,000+ words that appear on the website and articles myself, answering the thousands of emails, social media pages, advertising, SEO (as much as we could at least), and much more.
One last note on this topic: we'll be aggressively advertising this Kickstarter campaign at our own expense via our social media pages at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We'll also be doing a major press release in the first week to make sure we get as many people to join you in backing us as possible.
Now that we’ve got that part out of the way, we’d like to explain why we’re here asking for $75,000. With these funds we will be purchasing/paying for:
Staffing for the first 2 full months after launch - $25,535 = $12,767.50 per person for the 2 month period. This is a significant number because we will both be quitting our jobs to do this full time and we’ve both got families that rely on our income to support them
Advertising for the first 2 full months after launch - $20,000
Kickstarter fee & Amazon fee - $7,500
Equipment: 1 additional Macbook pro, 2 business cell phones, 2 iPad pros - $5,300
The final payment for website design and build - $2,900
Un-funded pledges (12.9 % average via Kickstarter statistics for technology sector ) - $9,675
Online membership to a service offering diagnostic flow charts, technical service bulletins, repair info, wiring diagrams and more $2,650
Business class wireless service $1,440
For a total of $75,000
In conclusion we’d like to say thank you to everyone that has taken the time to read over our proposal and consider backing us. This has been an incredible journey for us to get to this point and we very much look forward to continuing into a very bright future with all of you as our backers, and hopefully, our customers for life!
The My Check Engine Light team
Risks and challenges
We have very little in the way of risks and challenges. Once our funding goal is met we'll be able to have full time staff from the moment the site launches and we've got people standing by to help us scale as quickly as needed.
All of our services will be distributed via the website. Once the site launches we'll be able to begin fulfilling our obligations to our backers immediately.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)