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Helping motorists to save time and money

Kim Stewart Dec 12
Helping motorists to save time and money

With the only express vehicle service operation in Marlborough, Instant Auto is the result of Colin Martin’s desire to help Marlborough motorists save both time and money in the maintenance of their vehicles.

Colin discovered New Zealand motorists were paying too much to keep their cars maintained back in 2006, when he bought a new Peugeot 406.

“It was cool back in the day,” he says. “But I couldn’t believe how much the dealer wanted to service it. $700 to $750! I thought I’d better start learning about this car pretty quickly.”

Colin did his homework and with his small engine background, ended up servicing his own car for nearly a 10th of what the dealer was asking.

Colin travelled to the US to learn how fast lubes worked over there, and saw how some mechanics were in a position to offer these at an affordable price.

He also found some valuable add ons for the business he would establish on his return in 2015.

He looked at the big box retailers like Bunnings and Harvey Norman, who had seen Blenheim was growing and were setting up there.

He found some data online about vehicle registrations which gave him a good understanding there was 45,000 to 55,000 cars and light commercial vehicles in the neighbourhood.

“We didn’t have the resources to do big surveys, but online we had access to a Canstar Blue survey which found 40% of motorists don’t service their cars, they just wait until they break down or fail their warrant of fi tness. “We wanted to offer a convenient and affordable service so people would be able to maintain their vehicles.”

Initially Instant Auto was going to focus on oil changes, but with trained staff on board the company now completes the full range of mechanical repairs.

“You don’t get anywhere in business by saying no. We kept saying yes to work and now we’re in a position where we’re looking at bigger workshops.”

Colin is aiming to amalgamate Instant Auto with a second workshop for the bigger jobs, so he can keep true to the core of the business, quick turnaround and great value.

Instant Auto was recognised at the 2017 Marlborough Business Awards with the Technology and Innovation Award, and the Marketing and Strategy Award.

Colin says he pushed the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce along, saying he wouldn’t be entering the awards with a big wad of paper, instead he provided the Chamber a password for access to all his information on the Instant Auto website.

“It was a paperless award and it got them thinking this guy is thinking a bit differently from what we’re used to.”

Colin thinks he isn’t doing anything that isn’t mainstream in the main centres, but also recognises many of his competitors don’t have a website.

All Instant Auto software is cloud based, customers receive automatic text reminders when their car is booked in, and Colin is using the Mechanic Desk management software system from Australia which he says is pragmatic and helpful.

All customers receive a nice ink pen and a branded pad to keep the Instant Auto brand in front of them once their service is complete. They also get a business card which explains Instant Auto’s range of services, and asks them to review the business online.

“Businesses who ask for reviews do really well,” Colin says. “We go through our reviews each month and give out a freebie service.”

Instant Auto has also given out a $250 bar tab for sharing and liking its Facebook page, a savvy investment which resulted in 45,000 shares.

Instant Auto’s customer base now includes about 30% foreigners who love Instant Auto because of its web presence.

The locals have also embraced Instant Auto, particularly the tradies and the other commercial operators who can’t afford to have their vehicles off the road for days at a time.

This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…

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