Uber for Business Offers Collision Shops Alternative for Customer Transportation 

Uber for Business Offers Collision Shops Alternative for Customer Transportation 

When a vehicle is dropped off at a body shop for repair, transporting a customer to his or her desired location can often be an issue. Many shops rely on loaner cars, rental cars and shuttles.

However, Jim Bauman, automotive partnerships lead at Uber, said these options aren’t always conducive to every situation.

“We’ve talked to a lot of body shops---both independents and MSOs---as well as insurance companies, and across the board there is no one, perfect solution for taking care of customer mobility,” said Bauman. “Obviously, rental cars are a big part of the collision industry, but they don’t solve every problem, especially if a customer doesn’t have rental coverage replacement insurance.”

In situations like these, shop owners may ask a customer service representative (CSR) or technician to drive a customer in their personal or shop-owned vehicle. 

Not only can this impact a CSR’s productivity, but Bauman said it also increases the risk exposure for a body shop.

Recognizing the success car dealerships are having using Uber for Business's tools to address these challenges, Uber began reaching out to body shops as well. 

Since launching its ride-sharing platform in the U.S. 11 years ago, Uber has expanded internationally and instituted a variety of programs in the 66 countries in which it operates. 

In 2014, the company established Uber for Business, which specifically focuses on the needs of business owners.  

Rather than using the personal Uber app, Bauman encourages collision repair facilities to sign up for Uber for Business, which is the same price and offers the same functionality as the regular Uber app.  

“There is no contract, no minimum usage and no premium in terms of fee for using a business account,” he said. “What it allows a body shop to do is to control who is allowed to book an Uber ride for a customer and gives full transparency and accountability.”

Bauman leads Uber for Business’s strategy and partnership for the automotive industry, which offers mobility solutions for those operating large and small businesses. 

There are two main Uber for Business products Bauman recommends for body shops: Uber Central and Uber Vouchers

Uber Central uses dispatch software to book rides for customers. Riders aren’t required to have the Uber app on their phones and all of the communication occurs via text.

“If you know how to use the Uber app for yourself, you’re going to learn how to use Uber Central with no problem,” said Bauman. “It’s a very similar flow, but it’s a dispatching software so you can set up rides for customers to get them from point A to point B.” 

There are additional benefits to using Uber Central that Bauman said business owners don’t have access to with the regular app. 

For example, employees can keep track of the repair number, so they know the trip associated with each job. 

Bauman said the company built easy-to-use tools that have an immediate, positive impact on Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) scores, cycle time, reduction in costs and reduction in risk.

“If you were going to pull a CSR or technician off the shop floor to get a customer to work, you lost all of that person’s productivity when they were giving a person a ride,” said Bauman. “Instead, that employee can stay focused on his or her job.”

The ride is covered under Uber’s insurance policies in case anything happens, which Bauman said reduces the risk exposure for body shops. 

“It’s a great way for shop owners to take care of their customers and keep their costs in check,” he said.

Currently, there are more than 100 car dealerships in the U.S. that use Uber Central daily. 

Uber Vouchers are configurable coupons shops can hand out to customers, who can then decide when they want to ride. The business sets the parameters of the voucher and can decide how much of a ride will be covered or where it can go.

Bauman said the vouchers help businesses enhance customer service and drive repeat business, as well as remove the customer’s burden of driving, navigating and parking. 

“These are going to be great products for collision centers as they offer a really seamless experience for customers,” said Bauman. “We want to make sure the collision industry knows we are here for them with solutions that solve their problems.” 

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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