25353989_10155197203862333_4881129375193984974_nMy journey from a Computer Engineer to a Car Mechanic…..

There have been numerous times where people asked “Why did I leave my high paying lucrative career in IT and get into car service business?” Answering all of them was a task and so I thought I would pen it down. Here goes my story….

Since childhood, in the early eighties, a liking for cars and its technology always fascinated me. Reading every advertisement in the newspapers which at that time had featuring only the Ambassador and Premier Padmini cars and little later the Maruti 800 and the Omni, reading ‘Used Cars for Sale’ columns gave me the initial basic knowledge about cars and its features. As I grew up, I started buying Auto magazines from railway stations with the small amount of money that I used to plead my mother to give. And from there the acquiring of knowledge started. I was very observant when others used to drive and at the age of 12 drove my grandfather’s Ambassador without any formal training! My happiness knew no bounds then!

As I grew up, I never let go any opportunity to visit new car showrooms to know about new car launches, got my friends to dig into their contacts so that they can refer me to a car workshop where I can see cars being repaired. I used to go to a 2 wheeler garage in my vicinity and assist the mechanics in their work to learn. After college days I landed up with a trainee job in the IT Support industry which used to pay me 800 rupees as my salary. Eventually I got a job in the UAE and got a driving license soon. I passed all my driving tests in the first attempt which was like getting a Phd! I got a company car and very often also used to drive all high end and sports cars through contacts. For the passion I had for driving, in the next 8 years I clocked more than 500,000 kilometers in 4 different cars that I owned across the years, having driven cross countries often in the Middle East.

During these 8 years, I climbed the corporate ladder and was very much involved in my much demanding jobs which involved a lot of travelling to different countries. Eventually I got fed up with the too demanding life style of the UAE and returned back to Pune in India where I got a job in the senior management category of a IT department in a renowned company. I used to take a days off when the service of any one of my cars was due. And I myself used to work on my cars using the garage tools. The garage owner used to call me “educated mechanic”. After working in that company for 5 years I set up my own software company and got involved too much into it. In some time life became boring as there was no more excitement and my career became stagnant.

Then one fine day on my visit to Kalyan near Mumbai where my parents and siblings stay, I had taken both my sister’s and brother’s car for service at 2 different places – an authorised service center and a prominent road side garage. At both places I acted ignorant as a commoner who had no knowledge in cars and let them do what they wanted with the cars. My experience at both these places was miserable and I found out that everyone in this industry cheats! That is when I thought that something should be done about this. I wanted to give people full value of their money spent on car service and repairs, educate them on basic preventive maintenance tips and make sure they don’t get cheated anymore.

A concept that was running in my mind since childhood started to take shape and I put it on paper. I quickly thought of a business name, registered a domain and made my own website on which I put down my concept creatively. When I discussed this plan with my family, everyone was up in arms against me saying car garage is our not our forte, its a dirty job and so on. Everyone around discouraged me saying the concept will fail, but I backed myself and asked a few of my friends to invest money. My friends knew me and my passion for cars well and they backed me up and funded my idea. I was so excited that my dream venture was taking shape and during the course of the setup got some business associates who supported me and tied up with me to provide value added services,  and so EXPRESS AUTOCARE was born on 1st August 2015,  a multi brand car maintenance and detailing center which would eventually be a game changer. Since the entire focus was providing honest services, I put up high definition cameras in each service bay to give real time camera feed to clients on their smart phones to see what is happening with their cars. They could zoom and see what exactly is happening with their cars and were free to call us to give them a parallel update as they see their cars being worked upon on their phones. I made a customer lounge in my setup for clients to sit and see what is happening with their car. I hired some of the best technicians, got the latest equipment and machinery and each technician was trained to talk and educate clients on car maintenance tips. I worked along with my technicians and was thoroughly enjoying it. We made different service packages tailored to suit each class and brand of car. The focus was on giving the highest degree of satisfying customer experience.

We started on a fantastic note in the first month, but as normal as it is,  the acceptance for such a concept was very slow.  People suspected us since they thought we were too good to be true. The concept didn’t take off as expected and I was perplexed not knowing why and where we failed. Eventually people could see the difference, they realized our sincerity and we chugged along. We became quite reputed in the city with some honest customer reviews on social media platforms and word of mouth publicity. In no time the cream crowd of the city were all our customers which included top doctors, lawyers, police officers, municipal officers and prominent businessmen. We started getting our clients all the way from Pune, Central Suburbs, South Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and the Western Suburbs like Malad, Kandivli, Vasai etc

When we were settling down we encountered the challenge of demonetization. As the market slowed down which got me worried, a customer walked in and volunteered to invest money in EXPRESS AUTOCARE so that we would survive this challenging phase. He just said, “I do not want EXPRESS AUTOCARE to run out of breath while facing such challenges”. A customer who serviced his car just once with us had that level of confidence in our honest business model. That level of confidence of customers in our honest business model was just what we needed to boost our morales. It boosted our confidence and we worked more harder. We innovated our work processes further and our business associates too co-operated with us. I was able to add more value for our services. We added more and more services like Tyre Protector – Auto puncture sealant, Nano Ceramic Coating and Motor Insurance. Eventually EXPRESS AUTOCARE became a well known brand. With more and more franchise inquiries from different cities coming in, which we would eventually roll out, its just a matter of time EXPRESS AUTOCARE becomes a national brand known for its professional work processes, honesty and sincerity. We have been consistently rated above 4.5 stars across all platforms by our clients.

From the time we have been in this industry, we have been the game changers. We make success stories every day at EXPRESS AUTOCARE. Of course, there have been instances where we could not match customer expectations and we took that feedback as constructive criticism and amended ourselves. Our customers saw that we were receptive to criticism and we change if we find ourselves faulty and their trust remains in us. There is always a scope of improvement in everything we do and we pursue that.

What had been a childhood passion and dream for me, became my full time profession and I have no words to express the happiness and satisfaction I get when I see happy customers and get to know their feedback. With an outstanding team that I have, all of us work for a common cause – complete value for the money a customer spends on his car for service and repairs.

When I look back and assess all the ups and downs I faced as an entrepreneur, all I say is “Chase your dreams, follow your passion. Take risks to be happy, else all you would do is regret! “

Joel D’Souza
Car Enthusiast & Chief Mechanic