An automotive parts and services website to help people who don't know anything about cars find the answers that they need to keep their life (and car) running smoothly.
AskMyCarGuys.com originated from the many requests by friends, family, and 2nd to 6th degree relations for my husband, Chris, and his best friend, Brian, to diagnose and/or fix a car problem, check a repair shop’s opinion, figure out what car (new or used) to buy, price and order parts, etc. We were sitting around at church one day laughing as Chris and Brian worked to diagnose a friend’s car problem and realized that their automotive banter and collaboration would make a great website that could offer real help to regular people who have to make regular decisions about their cars and don’t know where to start.
Ask My Car Guys is a unique automotive platform:
• Instead of targeting the Do-it-Yourselfers (DIYs), which the rest of the aftermarket industry targets, we are targeting Do-it-For Me’s (DIFs), which make up 80% of the people who drive cars. According to AutoMD, 91% of DIFs would be willing to try doing their own automotive work if someone would bridge the knowledge gap for them and help them build confidence in their ability to modify/repair their cars.
• We will offer live chat sessions for answering automotive questions which none of the competition is currently doing.
• We will appeal to the whole person, not just car parts. The car you drive becomes part of who you are, and so we will offer advice on everything from choosing the right car for you or your child to how-to information for personalizing your car and for basic everyday repair along with the fun accessories that can be hard to find at a regular store.
• We will cultivate an Endorsed Local Provider list to help people who need to have their car worked on by professionals have confidence about who is servicing their car and what they are being told about their car. Over 80% of women would prefer to go to the dentist than to take their car to the shop (AutoMD). Our recommendations will take the pain out of car maintenance and repair for the everyday person.
• Our experts: The two main content contributors to the site are already recognized within the aftermarket industry and the automotive blogging community. Chris has won 14 industry awards for automotive part design and innovation and still maintains his blog – motorcitymusclecars.com – that is recognized through the industry as an automotive news. Brian was the editor for AutoTrader Classics and is the content management consultant for the NAPA Know-How Blog, which provides information and education about parts NAPA is featuring. Both Chris and Brian love cars and love sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with others.
• Instead of offering everything in an unorganized, unfriendly manner, and overwhelming manner, our web-store will offer specific products that we believe are easy to use and that we can provide reviews of and educational information for. If we don’t actually offer the product, we will participate in affiliates programs to make money from our referrals. We also plan to engage third party sources, like lenders, to do all-in-one hassle free shopping for cars.
We will make money by:
• Selling parts through an online ecommerce platform.
• Using affiliate programs for parts and services that we don’t offer directly.
• Collecting commissions on premium and outsourced services like buying cars
• On site advertising.
The automotive market is expected to see 238.4 billion dollars in sales in 2016 with a compound annual growth rate of 4%. The average age of vehicles in the US is 11.5 years, which is the oldest the vehicle fleet has ever been.
We are working to capture the untapped market that currently sees their cars as black boxes that they are not in control of, but who could easily turn their car into a craft. Since we are targeting DIFs, we don’t have direct competition because DIFs tend to use dealerships to service their cars, and dealerships specialize in serving newer cars, not the rapidly aging car fleet in the US, because dealerships only carry parts for 6-10 years after production ends. Of the 260 million vehicles on the road, 120 million of them are 6-14 years old, according to IHS, and therefore more difficult to service at a dealership.
Our indirect competition would be the stores like NAPA, AutoZone, Advance, CarQuest, and O’Reily’s, which target DIYs. These stores, however, do little to nothing to reach customers who are not already in the automotive aftermarket.
Our Market Size:
The market can be divided into two major areas – replacement parts and aftermarket accessories. Both arenas traditionally focus on DIY men and enthusiasts as customers, but women are just as likely to be involved in car buying decisions as men. There are over 10 million college educated women between 23 and 40 in the United States who have the ability to accessorize their cars but generally do not have the confidence or know-how to start. As the average vehicle age in the US increases (currently 11.5 years) more cars will need parts and more owners will be looking for economic ways to update their cars without buying a new car. Over 80% of people research automotive purchases (cars, parts, accessories) online, but only 6.7% actually purchase online. This is the exact opposite trend that big box stores see and suggests an opening for an effective automotive ecommerce tool.
The Dream Big Grow Here contest will allow us to launch AskMyCarGuys.com and market it to both friends and strangers. If we win, the majority of the money will be used to purchase a subscription to All Data, the subscription service repair shops use to determine labor estimates and how to do installations, and to pay someone to answer questions live on our site. No other website is currently offering consumers real time answers to automotive questions, so this option will differentiate our site even more.
A smaller portion of the money will be used to supplement the website we designed through things like graphic design, targeted market research, social media, trade show and festival marketing, and other management fees like web hosting and domain fees while the site is starting to generate its own revenue.
Simply participating in the contest will give the site exposure to new groups of people and provide useful feedback for optimizing our company and vetting our idea.