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SMASH repair startup DingGo has propelled its consumer-focused business, founded just before COVID started in Australia, into an accident management platform in two countries and with more than 75,000 vehicles under management.

In the past 12 months, DingGo has reported a 166 per cent revenue growth through demand for its platform, and seen its team grow in the same period from 10 to 40 people.

And its growth is basically down to applying digital solutions to historically analogue problems.

Co-founder and CEO of DingGo, Shaun Janks, told GoAutoNews Premium that the smash repair industry was “probably the last industry to go through the internet revolution of things”.

“If you think about how we now order food online, book hotels, book airfares, and so on, everything’s done digitally,” he said.

DingGo founders Shaun Janks (left) with business partner Josh Sanford.

“But from the customer experience perspective, the process of fixing your car is unchanged since our parents’ generation – you drive around to get quotes, you go through an insurer or you haggle with repair prices. It’s a very manual, offline process and, by today’s standards, inconvenient.”

Mr Janks said the idea to apply digital tech to the smash industry came after a flatmate – “who was a really bad driver” – spent considerable time getting his car fixed.

“I said: ‘Take a photo and send it to smash repair businesses for a quote’ because ‘that’ll be a lot easier than driving from place to place’. It started from that.”

Mr Janks said the germ of the idea crystallised through 2016 before he quit his full time job in 2017 and started DingGo with business partner Josh Sanford.

“The COVID period was tough – there were virtually no cars on the road – but we made use of the time by boosting the tech that goes into the platform,” he said.

“The business plan evolved from being focused on the general public, the mums and dads, which is where it was aimed, into corporates.

“We knew in the beginning that if we start with the public doing small repairs to prove the concept, then we’re going to get the attention of fleets, and then we’re going to get the interest of insurance companies and everyone. Ultimately it also led us to become a data company.”

Mr Janks said in growing and leaning towards fleets, the numbers grew quickly.

“Think about the pain in fixing one car then imagine you’ve got 50 cars or 500 cars. Some of our biggest clients have more than 5000 cars,” he said.

“That’s a lot of time and a lot of people to deal with. It’s a lot of businesses and departments within businesses, all on spreadsheets, corresponding by emails, PDFs … quite some pieces of paper.

“We realised that by digitising these parts of the business, we could do it a lot more efficiently and make it a lot easier for business. So we just progressed down that road and before we knew it we were an accident management company.”

“Though we had a rapid expansion of the fleet business, we never stopped helping mums and dads,” he said.

“But the demand from fleets just went through the roof and it became hard to keep focusing on a retail business. 

“We also found we could do more for fleets. The data we could access in workflow management, centralised payments, and other areas could become so important to fleets.”

Mr Janks said it surprised him how many fleets didn’t know its average repair cost. And they didn’t know the average time its vehicles spent off road being repaired, or how long they have to wait to get a damaged car into a shop.

“We can compare between fleets because our data is a benchmark for the industry,” he said.

“We can tell a fleet manager that he may be paying average repair costs of 30 per cent higher compared to fleets in the same industry with a similar business makeup of vehicles.

“That shows something’s going wrong. It could also show if a fleet is being overcharged by smash repairers, despite the fleet being with that repairer for decades.

“On the outside it’s basic information like that but as you start getting deeper into it, we know the make and models of vehicles and the average repair costs so we can help customers by giving insights on buying the vehicle that will be cheaper to operate.

“Then there’s driver safety and behaviour. Because we track everything, we know we can identify OH&S issues and whether there’s driver behaviour problems or safety concerns.

“The fleet manager can know through our data if the business is having too many damages after hours or in business hours. Are there drug and alcohol problems?

“This is the data available for OH&S. There’s also the procurement side of things on how to make better decisions as a business like strategic decisions from insurance to purchasing vehicles? 

“And that’s just today. I think, tomorrow, there’ll be even more.”

The company has plans – to be revealed later this year – to launch a roadside assistance product aimed at dealerships, manufacturers, financiers or finance brokers, but that will also be accessible to the public.

The road into fleet companies also led it to buy an existing accident management company based in New Zealand. DingGo put its tech onto that company – now Crash Management powered by DingGo – and increased the staff.

DingGo has investors that include SG Fleet, now both a client and a business partner.

With capital behind the business, Mr Janks was asked if this could lead to more international moves, Mr Janks said it was “certainly possible.”

“But right now, there is just so much opportunity available in Australia. I feel like we’re just scratching the surface,” he said.

“We’re getting new customers every week so it would be crazy to divert too much resource away from the good things we’re doing here.”

By Neil Dowling

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