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The Road to Digital

By autotech-nath on June 7, 2021

Recent events have accelerated the digitalisation of the way we purchase and provide services – we look at how workshops can use digital channels to enhance their customers’ experience and capitalise on revenue opportunities that may have otherwise been missed.

The IAAF’s recent Industry Bitesize Briefing looked at how digitalisation can bring the aftermarket supply chain, workshops, service providers and the customer together in a 360-degree journey. Ben Smith, founder of PECUVi Automotive, joined the briefing to discuss digital marketing changes over the last year and introduced the Intelligent Motorist app – a vehicle health check product for independent garages, service providers and customers.

Smith discussed the rise of video over the last year, as consumers turned to the internet and technology more than ever before. He highlighted that the need for businesses to adopt a video marketing strategy is now. Smith explains:
“The pandemic has brought forward a shift in mindset and process that was regarded by many as inevitable. This change is being driven by the transformation in how customers prefer to engage, due to the widespread adoption of digital communications.

“Technology means businesses can continue the personalised service and customer relationship-building that has served the industry so well for so long.”

Automotive shift to digital

The pandemic acted as a catalyst for a dramatic surge in demand for online services – people turned to digital channels in droves to learn new skills, purchase groceries, take part in a virtual events, and even buy new vehicles. The value of digitally documenting faults and fixes within the workshop was the driving force behind PECUVi Automotive’s video app launched way back in 2015, My Service Trust enabled independent workshops to document repair and maintenance work, engage with customers and streamline work approval, to level the playing field with franchise dealers. Independent workshops still have some catching up to do according to figures released by Frost & Sullivan/SMMT – with franchise dealers producing 1 million videos per month to the 1 million videos produced by independents over the whole year. Service videos are used to highlight urgent and advisory work and have been shown to add revenue and reduce call backs for approval.

Its latest development ‘Intelligent Motorist’ is pitched to be the future of vehicle maintenance, incorporating Intelligent Customer, Technician and Workshop (Hub) Apps. In a nutshell, the software provides real time, personalised vehicle health check reports straight from the workshop to the customer, to convert more work by building transparency and trust.

Intelligent Motorist App

Algorithms calculate the vehicle’s approximate mileage, the remaining wear of serviceable parts and alerts the owner and workshop when further ‘Advisory’ predicted, preventative maintenance becomes due. Bookings can then be made direct from the App to the Workshop.

The IM App provides the motorist with a detailed breakdown of their car’s health, helping to educate vehicle owners on safety standards, providing data and evidence in the form of tagged photos and videos. Workshops can provide a selection of branded replacement parts the customer can select via their app and can directly schedule in repair work and ongoing maintenance. This creates upsell opportunities that can be missed or quickly overlooked when on the phone or in a busy reception, and is said to convert on average 30% more work.

IM App

Garages can also add discounts and special offers such as free aircon checks into a digital wallet, to reward customer loyalty and boost seasonal work.

The IM Technician App can be used by all technicians to manage workflow, standardise procedures, and capture evidence for work approval. To get started you can scan the reg plate on your phone or tablet to check in the car and pull in existing customer and vehicle details. You’re then guided through a pre-service inspection process, adding data, recommendations and any photos or videos. These reports are uploaded to the secure cloud storage and presented in the iHub. 3D interactive models are created to explain technical detail to the customer and a QR code is generated to bind to the customer report, that can be sent remotely to a mobile.

Is this creating extra work for technicians?

The benefits of providing evidence to customers in a convenient way are clear but does this create additional work for technicians and does this remove the personal touch? Ben Smith, Director of Intelligent Motorists, told Autotechnician he believes it is actually a more efficient process and bolster a personalised service. Ben explains: “The Intelligent Motorist solution can be easily tailored to match your current vehicle health checks – no new processes, other than enabling you

“Customers of any age or technical competence are able to clearly follow and understand exactly what needs doing on their vehicle” to capture additional digital data and images/videos for the customer as you go – it is actually about creating efficiencies in the workshop.

“The IM eVHCs follow standardised procedures, so no matter which technician uses it, they will always check every item that you want them to, making recommendations as they go. But where the IM solution really makes a difference, is in how you can present this information to your customer.

“The iHub is an Android App that runs on a tablet or touchscreen TV (which we can provide). Customers of any
age or technical competence are able to clearly follow and understand exactly what needs doing on their vehicle (both now and in the future) as you present the information to them in a visual way – you don’t lose the personal touch!

Online Parts


Castrol has worked with Autino to develop a digital customer engagement platform to help independent workshops streamline customer communications and drive potential new revenue by using the online channel.

The CustomerLounge tool enables workshops to keep customers updated before, during and after their
visit through online chat, email and video, enhancing customer trust and loyalty by providing a breakdown of faults and subsequent repairs. Files and links can also be shared, to promote additional services and products.

A recent survey conducted by Autino found that 72% of car drivers want to communicate with the workshop digitally while their car is in for a service. However, the majority of garages (82%) still communicate with their customers over the phone. As well as meeting customers’ preferences for digital communication, those that have been piloting CustomerLounge in 2020 have achieved an average 50% reduction in inbound phone call volumes, freeing up time for service reception staff and technicians.

Mark Perkins, Sales Manager – Direct at Castrol UK, comments: “By making communication more digital we’re delivering what customers really want, and at the same time helping to make that interaction more productive for franchised and independent workshops. CustomerLounge helps to build lasting and productive relationships with customers, and increase the potential to generate extra aftersales revenue by showcasing products, services and offers in a pressure-free way.”

Digital Communication

“The product recommendations that relate to the reports include additional information such as features and benefits, before and after images or supporting videos. Even if the customer isn’t physically in your workshop, the report can be sent directly to their mobile (with or without them having the Intelligent Motorist App). Now you don’t need to ‘sell’ that item to the customer, they are better informed and will want it – just add it to their shopping cart!”

How are workshops finding the app?

Mark Darvill of Hillclimb Garage in High Wycombe has seen an increase in revenue since using the Intelligent Motorist App. Mark explains: “I am a firm believer in utilising digital technology in the workshop, but the IM solution is a platform like nothing else I have ever seen! It uses app technology and touchscreen devices to clearly present the data and evidence in such a clever way to the customer. We find that any recommendations for urgent and advisory work are roughly twice as likely to be authorised simply because of the way it is presented along with the additional product information we can display.

“It is absolutely fantastic, customers are amazed when they see the reports and then when you tell them to just scan a QR code (or I can send it via SMS) to get the report on their phone, they are blown away. I can honestly say that this solution is a game changer.”

With new cars sales down by 34%, dealers are keener than ever to retain aftermarket servicing and repair work.

Intelligent Motorist App

It makes good business sense to offer a dealer-level experience for customers wherever possible, educate motorists on the efficiencies of ongoing maintenance and continue to give the personalised, value for money service independents are known for. Although many workshops pride themselves on providing a traditional, face-to-face service to their customers, by utilising some form of digital reporting and communications, garages can ensure they remain in the game with increasingly tech-savvy customers.


Research conducted by global insurance group Assurant, has revealed that 75% of those intending to buy a car in the next three years are considering using their smartphone as a digital key. While there is a strong preference across all age groups of the 1,300 UK consumers questioned, it is especially of interest among younger car buyers: 88% of those in the 18-34 bracket would consider using a digital key for their new car, with the same applying to 80% of the 35-54 bracket and 61% for those over 55.

The top three concerns for people interested in using their smartphone as a key are the mobile phone being damaged, lost, or stolen, with around 40% of people feeling most concerned for one of these reasons. Using smartphones as digital car keys highlights the importance of mobile phone insurance, which could herald interesting new prospects for automotive dealers.



About Autotechnician
Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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