June 25, 2020

Nothing throws off a morning commute like a car that won’t start. 

Add finding a repair shop, somehow getting the car to the shop, and worrying about what the final bill amount will be to the mix, and the whole day is likely thrown off course. 

“For most people, car repair is about as fun as going to the dentist,” Joel Milne, co-founder and CEO of RepairSmith, said. “It’s not something anyone looks forward to. People are busier than ever, and car repair can eat up an entire day.”

Milne said RepairSmith is focused on adding a new level of convenience in the automotive repair industry by having repair specialists drive directly to customers wherever they are — and by giving them transparent pricing upfront. 

“The automotive repair model has been stagnant for more than 50 years,” Milne said. “It’s not surprising that consumers want more. We did the research to uncover the real pain points for car owners and have built our company around solving them with upfront pricing, online booking and choice of service location: at home, at their workplace or at a certified RepairSmith shop.”

To date, venture capitalists have invested billions of dollars into automotive sales, but less than $100 million in the post-sales market, according to Milne. It’s an undertaking to change the status quo, and Milne and his team said they have relied on three areas of its business to create a company culture that supports changing the norm. 

 

repairsmith fleet
Repairsmith's fleet of service vehicles outside its LA offices.

 

A culture built on different experiences

How do you change up an industry that seems set in its ways? Milne said RepairSmith is banking on the unique experiences of its team to bring high-quality service and a new level of convenience to customers. 

“Rather than limiting ourselves with a cookie-cutter team, we’re fueling our ambitious growth with colleagues who come to the table with different backgrounds to add new perspectives, challenge current thinking, work collaboratively and help us get where we want to go,” Milne said. 

Content Marketing Manager Jessica Chou: One of the specific things that attracted me to RepairSmith is how inclusive the company is. I know what it’s like to feel uncomfortable as a woman in the automotive industry and that couldn’t be further from the reality at RepairSmith. We have a diverse team in both gender and background, an amazing work environment, and a culture where everyone is so supportive of one another.

Milne: When I entered into the LA tech scene over a decade ago, there wasn’t a deep bench of talent with consumer tech startup experience you could tap into. Compare that to today where almost everyone on our team is a veteran in their role with extensive experience in venture-funded startups. We’ve been fortunate to pull in bona fide experts across all of our departments and we’ll continue to search across the board for top talent with upward potential as our team and our organization grows. RepairSmith wouldn’t have taken off the way it has without the dedication and diverse expertise of our individual team members.
 

We have a diverse team in both gender and background and a culture where everyone is so supportive of one another.”

 

Freedom to do the work

Staff members also get the benefit of stability and consistency that’s not often found in the auto repair industry. While the booming gig economy relies on part-time contract work to get the job done, repair specialists at RepairSmith are brought on as full-time employees.

This kind of freedom and flexibility allows RepairSmith’s employees to put in their best work, Fleet Advisor Richard Martinez said. And that has only improved the company’s reputation with customers: Martinez recalled a customer being so thankful for his service that she left out snacks and invited his team to explore her new garden, a level of closeness that’s rarified air in the auto repair industry. 

Milne: We don’t want our team to work around the clock. Lots of companies say they promote a healthy work-life balance for their employees. We really mean it. In fact, our team members are required to take a minimum of two weeks’ vacation and are fully encouraged to take advantage of our unlimited PTO. When we work smart, we can also play hard.

Martinez: We have everything we need in our vans to get most repairs and maintenance done in customers’ driveways. In particular, I love the freedom of being out in the field and being able to see so many new parts of LA that I’ve never seen before.

 

 

A shared passion for the industry 

Prior to RepairSmith, Chou was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017, thanks in part to her successful DIY car repair YouTube channel. Chou said the channel was spurred by her own frustrating experiences with car repair — so, she learned how to make the repairs herself.  

Chou: When I came to LA and bought a used car, I was completely intimidated by car maintenance and repair. Back-to-back horrible car repair experiences fueled my interest in learning how to fix and maintain my own car, and since then I’ve built my own brand as a car DIYer on YouTube to empower others to learn about car repair. My goal is to keep RepairSmith top of mind for car owners by making sure every piece of content we put out is relatable and memorable. We know car repair is something that can be daunting and intimidating, and through our content, we’re showing that we get it, and we’re here to help.

Martinez: I’m an ASE-certified mechanic with more than 12 years of experience. Being in automotive, you get used to having a different schedule every day, but I like that at RepairSmith, some days, I’m in the office, and other days, I’m out in the field. On a daily basis, I get to interact with the marketing, operations and finance teams in the office — it really helps me feel like I’m a part of a growing company.

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