So 2016…yeah…that happened. It was a terrible year for music lovers, film buffs, iced tea enthusiasts, Syria, Democrats…and at the time of writing this, there is still two f**cking days left in the year. 2016 was so brutal, a man started a Go Fund Me to protect Betty White from 2016. However, amidst the grey clouds is a major silver lining to everyone who owns a car.
We Hit Launch on August 1, 2016
We formally launched our little website in August 2016, after roughly two months in beta. Our company and website were founded on a simple fact: owning and repairing a car can be expensive. Consumers end up paying too much for repairs, and in many cases, technicians aren’t making a lot for the work they perform. Our application seeks to change this by cutting out the middleman and saving customers time, money and hassle, while providing technicians with an opportunity to earn more for their work.
We currently serve customers in Rochester, NY and across Western New York communities, and are proud to be on the road to being the premier automotive application.
While our product went live in August, we accomplished a lot within the first seven months of the year. Our programmers developed, built, and implements number of features to make Surfwrench easy to use for both customers and technicians. We met with a lot of clients and developed valuable business relationships. We’ve built a solid team interns, created a growing network of independent auto technicians, and learned a lot about what it takes to build and launch a successful website.
Here’s a few of the things we’ve accomplished since launch:
Surfwrenchonomics: Saving You $ & Helping Techs Make More
Using Surfwrench is easy. When something goes wrong with your car—and inevitably it will—you tell us what’s wrong and our independent technicians bid on fixing it. Our techs are the same qualified guys who work in repair shops, except our system helps them earn more for the work they do. Our customers typically save a lot on repairs. In just under 4 months of operations, our techs saved customers over $50,000 on their repair bills. They performed everything from Used Car Checks, complete engine rebuilds, exhaust repairs, and everything in between.
We believe in helping customers save their money for the things that matter: paying their bills, providing for themselves, and not having to worry about the economic realities of NEEDING your car. Let’s be real: it’s hard to live in America today without a car. If people can’t get to work, the economy stops working. If the economy stops working, we stop making progress.
In a 2016 survey, Bankrate, Inc. found that 63% of Americans cannot afford to pay a $500 auto repair bills or a $1,000 hospital bill. Our application focuses on solving these problems. Because we work to make customer’s repair bills significantly lower, people can keep the difference and put it back in the back. If you go to a shop, a $500 auto repair bill isn’t really going to fix that much. With Surfwrench, $500 can get you back on the road without breaking the bank.
In addition to the benefits for customers, Surfwrench also benefits technicians as well. When working through a shop, many of them make just above minimum wage, with only a small part of what customers pay actually ending up in their mechanic’s pocket. When techs use Surfwrench, they set their own wages and can give themselves upwards of 200% raises—while still cutting your repair bill in half. They use this extra money to pay their mortgage, buy new tools, and expand their shops, and make even more money. If you can fix a car, you need to get on Surfwrench.
We Got Some Media Attention
However, it’s not all about the money. Shortly after launch, Surfwrench landed on the front page of the Rochester Business Journal for our efforts. However, we sent the least photogenic member of our company to meet with the photographer, so we were placed below the fold. On the other hand, making the front page isn’t too shabby…it was actually kind of awesome.
Another major publicity factor was the growth of our social media presence, namely Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Facebook became a great tool for directly interacting with people who were having problems with their cars and people who have the right credentials to fix cars. This lead to a rapid succession of jobs being posted and filled on Surfwrench, especially when it came to very specific makes, models, and jobs. However, not every social media campaign was successful…we’ll talk about that one later.
A few weeks after launch, we were also invited to the annual SXSW Conference in Austin, TX in March. In addition to the well known music festival, this is where new technologies become mainstream and get to meet with investors, the public, and other innovators. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about this one.
More important than the media attention were the opportunities we provided to potential future employees through our internship program. We vetted and trained several interns through our revamped internship program from schools all over the Rochester area. We established partnerships and presence at MCC, RIT, Brockport and Geneseo. Due to the demand and incredible nature of academia in the region, we are looking at going to more schools in the Spring.
As our brand grows, we are looking to expand our internship program, especially in the areas of development and social media marketing. We utilize young talent to reach these remote audiences.
Our “Not” Accomplishments…and What We’ve Learned
— Surfwrench (@surfwrench) November 4, 2016
Putting #SurfwrenchExodus on the Back Burner
Ok, so you know that bit a few paragraphs ago about some unsuccessful social media campaigns? Yeah, well we had to ax an entire Twitter campaign.
Here’s our story: During every election season, some over dramatic prebs will say they are moving out of the country if their candidate doesn’t win. During Election 2016, #MovingtoCanada trended on Twitter for quite awhile. Wanting to help our friends and neighbors who were ready to jump ship, we formulated a brilliant campaign to give folks who said this a free bid coupon to get their car checked out. After all, Canadians really hate it when Americans break down at the border (…take a guess how we know this). The goal was to help people get their cars in good shape, which giving us a ton of exposure to various Facebook and Twitter users across the country. Seems like a pretty good plan, right?
WRONG. Well, it was…right up until the Canadian Immigration Site’s server melted due to too many people wondering how to become a Canadian citizen after a Donald Trump victory became imminent. We used our better judgment and decided to not play into the fear and paranoia brought on by the prospect of a Trump Presidency. In the words of our Creative Director, it went from tongue in cheek, to blatant fear mongering…” So with discretion being the better part of valor, we threw out nearly 30 hours worth of work, several hundred free use coupons, and a series of brilliant tweets that would never see the light of day: all because it wasn’t funny anymore.
Lesson learned: timing is everything on social media.
Blowing Up Some Beemers
On a more personal note, we blew up and rebuilt 6 liters worth of BMW engines for the company E39. In other news, we didn’t hit any deer, so that’s a step in the right direction.
Lesson Learned: Just goes to show, that even the guys who are aiming to change the auto repair industry inevitably have to deal with car problems.
Expanding Our Development Team
We are a small company with big ideas, a product we wholeheartedly believe in, and most importantly, a team who makes it all happen. In 2016, we expanded our development team, and welcomed Douglas Klein as our Head Front End Developer. Fun Fact: Aidan Klein, our Head Software Developer is Doug’s twin brother.
We’ve found two Kleins is definitely better than one, and can’t wait to see what they come up with in the years to come.
We Hear Wedding Bells
On a more personal note, one of our Marketing Operators, Benjamin Haskell celebrated his engagement to his fiancee Michelle. They are planning a wedding for July 2018. Congrats again, Ben.
Extending Our Thanks
Overall, 2016 was an interesting year for us. It had its ups and downs, but overall, we believe our little company made some major steps in the right direction. We would like to take this time to thank the people who helped us make those steps: Aidan Klein, Douglas Klein, Benjamin Haskell, Mark DiStefano, Caitlin Vandewater, and all of our partners in towing, parts and used car sales. Thank you to our independent auto technicians who keep Surfwrench rolling and save people money, and our customers who are embracing the idea of tech-sourcing their car repairs in an effort to save time and money through Surfwrench.