Meet Our Founder: Andy Bowie

Andy is a bundle of energy, often seen bouncing from task to task and struggling to sit still. He is the guy building the business, brand and relationships whilst trying not to get distracted by the surf, snow or wind report!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Andy. I was raised in Auckland, before heading off to chase winters all over the world, throwing myself off jumps and down half-pipes. Whilst I’m now back in the city (and able to get a tan again), the enthusiasm for trying something new, and a little crazy, hasn’t disappeared. I’m an ‘off the chart’ extrovert who loves meeting and working with new people. Please say hi!

Why did you start My Auto Shop?

After spending close to 5 years building some pretty cool global companies, I felt it was time to try it myself. I was looking at a bunch of different industries and quickly realised that vehicle maintenance was stuck in the past. It felt like the right time to bring it into the future. You can read more about that journey here.

What were you doing before this?

After chasing winters around the world competing and running my own coaching businesses, I moved back to Auckland. There I spent time in couple of sales roles with Frontside Media and Facebook, before becoming one of the team to start Uber in NZ. I held roles in marketing and operations in both NZ and Singapore at Uber, then finally as Country Manager for Uber Eats New Zealand until October 2019.

What does your weekend normally look like?

Other than trying to grow My Auto Shop further, I’ll be found out on my little yacht sailing, under a rally car that I built with my Dad, or trying to hunt some waves or powder, depending on the season.

Tell us something fascinating about yourself?

I once crossed the US/Mexico border 3 times in 1 hour whilst on a surf trip in what turned out to be a stolen car (that we found out after we bought it!)

The scary reason we’re never driving through the Waikato again

Not long ago, I was sitting on a small regional plane beside a person who was scared of flying. I found myself spouting the classic, pretty painful cliche line that any semi-analytical dad might be caught saying before taking off: “What’s there to worry about? Statistically, you’re more likely to be in a car crash than a plane crash, and you never worry about jumping in the car right?” Well, I had a bit of a reality check on that the other week.

Now, I’m certainly not the over-cautious type; frequently found sitting on a small, marginally ocean-worthy vessel in the middle of the Hauraki or in a home-built racecar rocketing past fence posts, however, we need to take a step back and ask if we are truly safe on our roads.

The MTA recently released its annual report on the vehicle servicing industry (something relatively top of mind for me) and the warrant of fitness failure rates stand out like a sore thumb. Across the country, these are now at 41%! That’s getting close to half of our cars (1,886,104 in fact) that when checked whether they should be on the road, shouldn’t be!! Now, while I might understand the condition of my own car and be happy getting into it, I’m certainly not happy knowing that the driver of every second car coming at me at 100kph might not be able to stop, steer or see properly!

So I decided to dig a little deeper and it only gets worse. Our WoF failure rates have been skyrocketing over the last few years, growing 17% since 2013. The most recent step change has come due to 2 main reasons that I can see:

  1. A shift to a longer required cadence of WoFs, meaning vehicles are checked less regularly, and
  2. A crackdown on sketchy WoF providers, meaning that less blind eyes are being turned to ‘mates’ who might drop off a few beers to pass your car.
NZ WoF Failure rates 2013 – 2019

Now whilst the latter is a good thing, the former carries huge repercussions. In a society that is getting less practical and vehicles are becoming more complex, people really have no idea what is going on in their car. But in this age of convenience, people expect their car to work and don’t take any further steps to take care of it. With the WoF cadence pushed out, it means cars are left to wear and tear longer, without any extra care or checks.

If you take a look at why vehicles are failing, it’s the big things, that don’t just affect you but are likely to cause a crash with others involved. In typical 80/20 fashion, the top 4 categories make up 70% of fails:

Causes of WoF failure rates in 2019

These drivers can’t see, stop or turn properly! And it turns out it’s not helping our road fatality rates either. A beautiful trend of reductions in road-related fatalities seemed to stop in 2013 and started to head in the other direction.

And there is a couple of scary pieces to this as you go even deeper:

  1. It’s not because our population is growing or we have more cars on our roads. Our fatality rate per vehicle and per person in NZ is in fact now increasing faster than our population growth.

2. Is it pure coincidence, or is it very nerve-racking that the region with the consistently highest WoF failure rates is also the one with the highest road toll?

Now I love my friends down in the Waikato, but this isn’t one to be proud of. 47% of vehicles fail their WoF in the Waikato each year, AND they also have had the highest road toll for 6 of the last 7 years.

And whilst currently minor, one of the fastest-growing causes of road fatalities is, yip, you guessed it, ‘Fatality due to vehicle factors’ which has almost doubled from 5.5% of all fatalities in 2015 to closer to 9% in 2019.

Now I can understand why people are turning a blind eye to this stuff. It’s a pain to navigate the logistics of not having your car for a day, and it’s expensive. If we take a look at the AA’s latest report on running costs of a standard petrol engined medium-sized car, you’re looking down the barrel of $1300+ per year in servicing, tyres and repairs. Bet you didn’t account for that when your freshly imported second hand Mazda Alexa (the highest imported second-hand model to NZ) rolled off the boat.

AA Running Cost Report for petrol-driven cars.

The fact is, people are irrational and buy cars at their upfront value without factoring in the ongoing running costs, then skimp on looking after them because it’s easy to ignore and hope for the best. They wait till they fail a warrant, then do the minimum to keep it on the road.

Now it might sound like a shameless business plug, but we need to take a hard look at how we are looking after our cars. NZ has one of the most diverse vehicle fleets in the world, with a crazy amount of imports coming in, often with minimal history attached. They are then let loose on our roads, only to be checked in once a year for a quick WoF, which may inspect vehicle safety, but doesn’t go on to check vehicle health (maybe another rant to come on the vehicle graveyard that may soon become NZ).

Come on NZ. Let’s take better care of our cars, so we don’t need to have the same anxiety my friend on the plane had each time we jump in the driver’s seat of our cars.


References:

  • MTA Vehicle Inspection Report 2019
  • AA Running Cost Report 2019
  • Ministry of Transport Road Death Report Jan 2020

Meet one of our awesome drivers: Cameron

We love the team that work alongside us to move your car from home, work or wherever you choose, to our garages to get some love. Our driver-partners come from all walks of life and have their own stories, so we thought you might like to get to know a few of them:

What’s your name:
Cameron Brown

Whereabouts do you live?
Glendowie, Auckland.

Why do you drive with My Auto Shop?
My Auto Shop allows me to make quick and easy cash at times that suit me.
The app has been well thought out and the drivers are also well looked after.

What were you doing before this?
During the university holidays, I have been managing a Christmas tree business. Aside from managing the business, my job doubled as a driver delivering and removing trees all around Auckland.

What does your weekend normally look like?
When I’m not working, you will find me at the golf course, watching the NBA and/or enjoying a cold beverage.

Tell us something fascinating about yourself?
I am a student at the University of Otago where I study majors in Economics and Finance. While based in Otago, I enjoy exploring all the South Island has to offer from picturesque walks to skiing.

We will keep introducing more drivers, so when they arrive to pick up your car, it will be a familiar face.

Reimagining the car maintenance industry

Have you ever felt that feeling of anxiety when you take your car to your local mechanic to get an annual service but know deep down, it won’t be as straightforward as it says on the board?

Then, you get the call in the middle of the day, saying your car needs new suspension bushes, a transmission flush, new brake rotors AND it will cost over $800. You quickly ask yourself 3 questions which you really don’t know the answer to:

  1. What are all these things?
  2. Do I really need them?
  3. Should it really cost that much?

Hi, my name’s Andy. I recently started My Auto Shop, to take that sinking stomach and confused feelings out of car maintenance.

Kiwi’s love their cars. We have the 3rd highest vehicles per capita in the world and rely on them completely due to limited public transport infrastructure. However, our car fleet in NZ is actually pretty old, with the average age being 14 years, which is 4 years older than our neighbours in Australia.

Global fleet age (USA, CAN, AUS, NZL)

However the car maintenance industry in NZ is an incredibly fragmented place that hasn’t evolved much in the last 20–40 years. With over 4600 independent garages around the country, offering different services at different costs, consumers have so much noise to navigate and no way to tell what information is credible.

What’s more, the information gap is growing. As cars get more complex and generations become less mechanically minded, customers are not in the driver’s seat when managing these transactions. Unfortunately, this has been taken advantage of by some mechanics and customers are now worried about being ‘taken for a ride’.

A recent survey in the UK found that:

  • 23% of people felt ripped off by the price they were quoted when they last
    visited a car mechanic;
  • 23% also felt stressed out by the experience and 25% were even nervous about entering a garage;
  • 45% had no idea how much common car repairs should cost.

However it seems that NZ may have more trouble, with a recent survey finding that 73% of younger generations are worried about mechanics ripping them off, compared to only 42% of baby boomers.

Introducing My Auto Shop.

My Auto Shop is here to take the pain and confusion out of car maintenance. Our new business model solves for trust and convenience when servicing your car in a way not seen before in NZ, and only feasible now thanks to recent technological advances.

Firstly, bridging the trust gap:

My Auto Shop provides you a fixed, tailored price for your car, based on the time it takes to complete that job and the retail parts cost specific to your car. Our MTA approved, carefully selected partner-garages are the ones to complete the job to a high standard. If they find anything outside of the stipulated work that needs to be done, they get in touch with us to arrange the next steps. We then validate the job and quote against fair market rates, before confirming with the customer, so they can be sure they are getting only what needs to be done, at the right price.

Secondly, making it easy and affordable to customers:

We have a fantastic group of driver-partners, whom thanks to the recent advancements in E-scooter technology, are able to get around Auckland efficiently, moving cars from customer’s home, work or elsewhere, to garages, and back again. My Auto Shop uses internationally developed, best in class dispatch technology to manage all the moving parts each day, and give customers full transparency through the experience. We will share more thoughts in coming weeks on how we are tackling some of the tricky one-way trip problems too. Watch this space!

So who are we?

The founder, Andy Bowie, was most recently was the Country Manager for Uber Eats in NZ, growing the food delivery business rapidly in the last 2 years across NZ. Previously to this, Andy worked in the Uber business both in its early days in NZ and across South East Asia. Prior to Uber, Andy held roles in media companies Facebook and Frontside.

You can see a recent interview on Switch TV with Andy, talking through the logic behind My Auto Shop, as well as some of the hard challenges, HERE.

My Auto Shop founder Andy Bowie

So where can you find us?

We have launched in inner Auckland, but plan to be expanding quickly to the big centers in NZ by the end of the year.

We want to reinvent the way you manage your car, by ensuring that you receive a convenient service, that you can trust. Because your car’s worth it.

http://www.myautoshop.co.nz