RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – On-demand car maintenance startup Spiffy is embracing the age of the “connected” vehicle with a new service that allows owners to schedule service without having to exchange keys with a Spiffy representative. And CEO Scot Wingo sees a huge opportunity.
“We’re optimistic we have a connected car killer use-case here,” he tells WRAL TechWire.
Capitalizing on the fact that many vehicle manufacturers have made wireless connectivity available in many vehicles since 2015, thus “connected,” Spiffy is rolling out today a service that allows owners to leave their keys in the car or van or truck, lock it with the wireless app Spiffy had already created, and leave. A Spiffy technician arrives, unlocks the vehicle through the new Spiffy application, and – SNAP – service begins.
“Our customers are really busy. They often choose Spiffy for the convenience factor and stay for the excellent service. The connected car initiative takes out the ‘key exchange’ process, and that’s an important step towards our goal of zero-friction car care services,” Wingo notes in the service announcement.
In exchange for fees, Spiffy has struck an agreement with 13 manufacturers (Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, Jeep, Lexus, RAM, Tesla, and Volkswagen) for the initial rollout. The service is available in the growing number of markets that the Triangle-based company operates, from North Carolina to Texas to California and follows Spiffy’s raising of $9 million in new venture capital earlier this year.
CEO Scot Wingo, the serial entrepreneur who launched ChannelAdvisor and a major investor in Spiffy, explains how the new app process:
- In the Spiffy app, we know your make and year and if it’s in our supported connected car set, we say: “Hey Rick, looks like you have a connected car, click here to connect to Spiffy.”
- You click the button and then login to your OEM’s connected car site (inside the Spiffy app).
- Now you are set.
Day of service
- The day of the service, each car is a bit different, but generally, you lock your keys in the car with your connected car app (some cars have full valet access so we can move the vehicle).
- The spiffy technician arrives and the custom app we provide our technicians says: “Rick has a connected car, here is where it is (we can see the gps) and click here to unlock.”
- The technician unlocks the car, gets the keys, performs the service and relocks the vehicle with the app.
So how did Spiffy convince the original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, to participate?
“This first wave of 13 makes were the low hanging fruit,” Wingo explains. ” These OEMs already have connected car initiatives we were able to plug into.
“One of the use cases they have looked at is remote unlock/lock, but in talking to them, they are finding customers and third parties aren’t really using the functionality.
“We’re optimistic we have a connected car killer use-case here.”
The new offering comes as Spiffy continues to grow its service business – and going keyless exchange will help meet demand as well as needs of customers, Wingo says.
“We’re servicing 200 to 400 cars a day right now, so that’s a lot of keys moving around,” he explains. ” In these relationships we are announcing today, we pay a small API [application program interface] fee to access the connected car.
“We have more relationships in the works and deepening relationships with the OEMs today that will include more promotion of Spiffy and those tend to be more like marketplace arrangements (revenue share).”
The new app follows Spiffy’s recent debut of its Spiffy Blue device which is designed to advise owners about need for maintenance through an onboard diagnostic sensor.