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Mechanics take business on the road (and to the customer)
Ryan White, CTV Calgary
Published Wednesday, June 24, 2015 4:38PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 24, 2015 6:39PM MDT
The founders of instaMek believe they have found a way to remove the overhead costs that contribute to sticker shock at the garage, but not everyone is convinced their approach will revolutionize the industry.
Described as taking a unique approach to vehicle repairs in the same way ‘Uber’ changed the taxi industry (in cities other than Calgary), Asem Alsaadi and Uzair Ahmed say their company was created in Edmonton early in 2015 to fill an obvious need.
While Ahmed was travelling overseas, his mother had car trouble at home. She hired mechanics through online classified ads, but no one showed. An expensive towing and repair bill inspired the creation of instaMek.
Now, the business has expanded to Calgary and experienced local mechanics have been brought into the fold.
"Our mechanics are all vetted. They're all mechanics that work at dealerships that you take your car to anyways,” explains Ahmed. “The only difference is these guys are now working on your driveway."
According to the founders, after an instaMek client fills out a form on the company’s website they’ll receive a response within the hour. A mechanic will arrive at the home with all necessary parts and repair the vehicle on site. The price can be 30 per cent less than a similar repair conducted in a traditional garage.
"Our shop rates are $90 per hour which is less than most shops out there," said Ahmed. "Most shops are $125 - $135 per hour."
While the idea of mobile mechanics may intrigue customers, some traditional mechanics question worker safety, property damage and the quality of the repairs.
"If you got a family van and there's this guy at your house and he's going to do front brakes,” said JJaye Mangat of The Mechanics, “Are you just gonna go pick up your kids (after)?”
Mangat admits the convenience of mobile mechanics could hurt his business but says there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed for both the vehicle owner and the mechanic. Fluid leaks and jack stands could damage pavement and Mangat asks who is responsible if someone is injured on the job.
Mechanic Jamez Burnink works full time at a shop but agreed to work with instaMek to help cover the costs of having a family with two young children and, in his words, a wife who loves shoes.
“These guys have a pretty good concept and I make good money on the side doing it,” said Burnink. “I can pick and choose the jobs that I want.”
Burnink says the dangers of the job are no different than those experienced in a shop and the instaMek technicians have regular meetings, a fact confirmed by one of the company's founders.
"We keep in touch with our mechanics at all times," explains Ahmed. "We tell them to only work in certain situations and we have strict safety procedures that they have to follow."
The owners of instaMek say all of their services include a 3,000 to 5,000 kilometre warranty.