The Blue Array Broadcast Episode Two – Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic
Posted by David Gale on April 22, 2021
In this week’s edition we are joined by Andrew Jervis, the CEO and co-founder of ClickMechanic.
ClickMechanic is the UK’s market leading platform that connects car owners who need repairs, servicing and inspections to the UK’s best mechanics.
Andrew discusses the formation of clickMechanic and its origins back in 2012.
We have a brief insight into their marketing process and how they measure a successful campaign.
He reflects with great pride on how his team managed to deal with adversity when faced with the COVID pandemic last year and how they innovated quickly to continue their growth.
Finally, Andrew discusses the importance of having a robust, ongoing SEO strategy and the lessons learned along the way in its implementation.
Full transcript of conversation:
David: Hello, welcome to the second edition of the blu ray broadcast. This week I’m joined by Andrew Jervis, the CEO and co founder of click mechanic. Click mechanic is the UK market leading platform that connects car owners who need repairs, servicing and inspections to the UK is best mechanics. Andrew discusses the formation of clip mechanic and how it all started back in 2012. We have a brief insight into their marketing process and how they measure a successful campaign. He reflected a great pride on how his team managed to deal with adversity when faced with the COVID pandemic last year, and how they innovated quickly to continue their growth. Finally, Andrew discusses the importance of having a robust ongoing SEO strategy. And the lessons learned along the way in its implementation. Hello, Andrew, how’s it going today?
Andrew: Yeah, very well, very well, indeed. It’s nice to be here.
David: Thank you very much for your time. It’s great to have you on the show for our second episode of The Blue Array Broadcast. And you’d be happy to just tell us a little bit about yourself. And really what inspired the formation of click mechanic.
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. My name is Andrew one of the cofounders of can a bit about myself. So I come from a family who’ve been involved in the automotive industry going back generations, so my grandfather was involved with it. My dad, he owns a Kia dealership, one of my brothers is a mechanic he owns his own workshop. So you can imagine it’s an industry I’ve grown up around I after graduating from union originally worked in banking for a little while before turning my attention to family trade, you could say and clear mechanic came out of a piece of research I did for my research masters at the University of Manchester. So I did a whole big thesis on the issues that existed in automotive repair and models to help alleviate that. And then joined a tech technology accelerator in London called entrepreneur first show where I’m at my co founder Felix and away we went with a mission to bring trust, transparency, convenience to correspond, I guess the terms of how the actual product functions. It’s it’s very similar user experience to Uber, but just for car mechanics. So as a user, you come on the site, get a fixed price industry standard quote, if you’re happy with that you book in, we match you with mechanic come say what work you’ve booked and and then you leave them a review.
David: With the gradual easing of restrictions that we’ve seen this week. I was wondering if you were happy to cast your mind back to the last year when the whole COVID pandemic took hold. And if you’re happy to share some of the challenges that your businesses faced in the last 12 months dealing and reacting to that?
Andrew: Yeah, no great question. I think yeah, if we cast our mind back 12 months ago, when COVID first here, I think things accelerated extremely quickly. So I remember, there was a little bit of kind of tension around the country, and who started to look at this and prepare for it. And I remember, we did a in preparation for what we thought might come we did an all company work from home Friday, just as a trial run, thinking that maybe in the coming weeks, we might all have to do that. And I remember within a matter of days, I think beginning of next week, it was like, recommended everyone should work from home. And then we were like, wow, okay, we’re into this. And we haven’t returned to the office since to be honest. And we’ve subsequently have an office at the moment. So in terms of the impact it had on the business. So obviously, everyone working from home was a big shift.
But the team responded amazingly well to that in terms of like traffic and customers and so on. Obviously, advices to stay at home, don’t travel and car usage dropped massively. I think it was dropped about 70%. Within a matter of days. It was huge. So we literally overnight, we saw our traffic to our website dropped 50%, which was a moment of Wow, what’s actually going to happen here is this is right, really, this could be really bad.
So instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we threw together a click mechanic COVID war room where we had like a check in every morning and we divvied up key sort of owners of key areas from like cost saving to realising opportunities to ensuring that the team were I know in a good spot because it was quite stressful time. And yeah, I think the team responded amazingly well just so on the opportunities front, we very quickly identified that, obviously, people still needed cars for essential travel and so they needed to be maintained. But obviously there was a lot of concern around taking it to a garage and potentially catching COVID or spreading it. So we launched very quickly contact free repairs, which basically meant you could book one of our mechanics that would come out to you and they had a whole series of procedures where you would have zero interaction with the mechanic contactless payments etc. So it was a very safe means to get your car repaired at the time. And so we literally launched that in a matter of days we worked with the whole team worked really hard to get that launched. And so when we saw traffic dropped 50%, pretty quickly, we saw our conversion rate on the site, increased 20-25%. And that kind of immediate response led to us acting quickly on other opportunities as well from what an originally was, it could have been a disaster for us in the beginning of March and into April, we rebounded pretty well. And when things started to open up, and people start to use their cars more, we were back to posting record month, July and August, we had record months. So yeah, it was pretty crazy. But we came through really well. And the team did an amazing job.
We look at the profitability of different work items, different channels, marketing channels, different types of traffic, and without a shadow of a doubt, the most profitable channel is SEO.
David: When you talk about getting that to market very quickly. Typically, how long would a new kind of product or proposition take in terms of like you fast track that fruit in a phenomenal turnaround time with something like that typically be a number of months to come to fruition?
Andrew: It really depends on the kind of scope of the product, we try and follow quite closely Lean Startup principles to a massive advocates for having Minimum Viable products, iterative design. So getting your first thing out the door very quick. So yeah, I think in terms of a process, we follow it from getting something from concept through to delivery, essentially, it’s a multi step process from first of all, having an idea that gets put in a particular type of document, we call a nice document, which outlines the problem, give some data on that particular idea, then get scored on the impact it can have on the business, the confidence we have in it and the ease of delivery. And then that particular feature will then be stacked up against other features, which are equally marked on that criteria. And then we have a priority order of things we’re going to address. And yeah, I think for something like that, typically it would be going through that process and being rigorous about it to ensure that it’s something where we’re confident in we know it can deliver it will be a series of weeks, but we acted much quicker to turn that around in literally a matter of a few days, because we thought it was so critical.
David: When you mentioned that you quickly moved to seeing record mumps coming back through was was that across all acquisition channels like that the market was moving back up, or was that primarily through organic search?
Andrew: Yeah, it was a combination. I think we managed to do that because of a lot of our key like, KPIs are really important KPIs, really, we did a great job in terms of ensuring they’re performing very well. So that was that would include our traffic we were acquiring from paid search our organic traffic site conversion, we also have an off site conversion. So when a booking is placed, that doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed to be paid for that we only get paid when the job’s complete. So we have an off site conversion as well, that was working particularly strong. And so all these things came together to enable us to post these record months. So there’s probably I’d say four key things that came together to enable us to do that. And organic traffic was a key part of that.
David: In terms of organic traffic, obviously, because we are an SEO agency, it’d be fantastic to know what SEO kind of represents a means to yourself – I appreciate it’s quite a broad question?
Andrew: Yeah, no, it’s it’s a good one. An important one, though, I think SEO is amazingly important. And so prior to Click Mechanic, I’d had some exposure to SEO and realised the importance of it. And I think very early on, when we started Click Mechanic, we started to invest in this area, and as a channel it has always delivered, because it’s enabled us to deliver great content that’s really useful to users, once you’ve invested into it, and you start to get like traffic, it’s, I don’t wanna say it’s free traffic, because there is an investment into acquiring it, but you’re not paying per click as you are with paid search, which can amount to a lot of money every month.
So once the investments made and you get that traffic, it’s hugely beneficial. And it shows from our we do a lot of profitability research. Looking up, we have 1000 different work items. So we look at the profitability of different work items, different channels, marketing channels, different types of traffic, and without a shadow of a doubt, most profitable channel is SEO. So the importance of that is critical because it delivers a huge volume of customers. It enables a lot of consumers to interact with our brand. It’s very cost effective once you invested into it, and it’s delivering our most profitable bookings as well. So without it, yeah, we certainly would not be the business we are we would it would be a very different state of affairs. So yeah, it’s incredibly important.
David: With that said in terms of kind of responsibility and ownership within click mechanic You’re happy to talk around how that’s structured and the needs are met internally to to deliver on an SEO strategy?
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess obviously, we work with Blue Array. And we worked with you guys for a long time. We’re we’re very fortunate that Simon is one of our investors, which is amazing. He, from the very early days prior just prior to him starting Blue Array, he was giving us some pointers and guidance, obviously, as Blue Arrays grown, and he’s been very focused on that. And we wanted to professionalise our SEO, we become a client of Blue Array, a paying client. And we worked with you guys for a number of years. So we see our partnership with Blue Array is critical for giving us the the, like the insights, we’re confident and because and the delivering action plans, which we’re confident in because I think SEO is it’s not like accountancy where you can go to get your chartered accountancy, we were taught SEO certificate and your fully fledged SEO expert, I think it’s a, it’s a bit of a dark art because the algorithms constantly change.
There’s a lot of agencies or professionals out there who profess to be SEO experts, and I think, is perhaps an industry where it’s a bit of a black box, and you’re not always sure what you’re getting. So to be able to work with an outfit that we have complete confidence in is I think, key for us to have that foundation of knowledge that we’re confident in. So from our partnership with you guys, we then have our marketing manager in house Kurt, who probably leads on that direct relationship with Blue Array, but because as I mentioned before, it’s such a key and important channel for us.
Myself, I’m involved directly in that relationship. So I attend the bi weekly SEO meeting. And we also our CTO is my co founder Felix, we involve him as well. And he attends that bi weekly meeting, because since the the early days of starting click mechanic, he’s been involved in everything we’ve done SEO and his knowledge, not just he’s got good core knowledge of SEO, but also an understanding how complex things are that we want to do from a technical standpoint, he can offer a huge amount of value. So yeah, essentially current leads on it from a day to day perspective, but from a strategic overview, both the CEO and CTO or claim mechanic are involved and are involved in overseeing it. And that shows how important it is to it.
David: That the kind of segues nicely into into my next question, where I found that through conversations with a lot of founders and Marketing Leads, talk around an ‘SEO-first’ approach, whether that be thinking SEO first, when building a new website, or how the marketing operation functions – how do you make sure SEO is always a part of the conversation or kind of all of your team’s thinking. But I guess what you’ve just mentioned where you’ve on those calls regularly and have such a focus on it. That probably speaks volumes already.
Andrew: Obviously, in any business is lots of different teams and lots of different stakeholders, and everyone kind of has their own priorities. And I think Yeah, as being in the fortunate, fortunate position of being the CEO and having a good overall perspective, the whole business thing, what that does is you can probably see a little bit more unbiased, maybe where some of the key areas are that you really need to make sure you don’t let the ball slip and you really invest in and I think SEO is that. And I think we’ve learned as well a bit of a heart a tough lesson in the past as well, because in the early days, we invested hugely into SEO and paid massive dividends for us in terms of helping with our growth, getting hundreds of 1000s of unique visitors every month delivering hundreds of 1000s worth of revenue every month. And unfortunately, probably too at 17 2018. We took our finger off the pulse a little bit with it, we didn’t prioritise it.
We didn’t put any major engineering resources to it. And we thought we thought that we cracked it. But we thought this is an area we need to invest in uncom, we probably really under invested for at least 12 months. And then come October 2018, we will there was a new algorithm update and we were hit and we were hit pretty hard and it had a massive impact on the business took us a good chunk of time, at least 12 months to get back to where we were so when we learned the hard way that actually this isn’t it’s not always going to be the golden goose it’s always going to deliver and grow. And I think even just to stand still with SEO, you have to invest a certain level into it. And to really make it excel you have to invest that bit more. Yeah, I think it’s just us as a business and particularly the founders really believe in it and we will ensure that it’s always front of mind in whatever decision making and planning we’re doing.
David: How do you measure kind of overall marketing success? Do you have a particular framework or kind of set of KPIs to just, you know, understand what, what was a win? What What does success look like?
Andrew: Yeah, we’re very performance focused. So we’re massive advocates for performance marketing, we tried doing brand stuff as well, we spent, we got us an experiment half a million pounds on TV, which was incredibly hard for us to really measure and monitor the ROI on that. So I guess first and foremost, one of the top KPIs that we believe in is the unit economics. So how much you’re acquiring a customer for and how much you’re getting from that customer.
So for example, say we have a booking, that’s what we take 20 pounds commission on, we certainly don’t want to be acquiring that booking for more than 20 pounds, because we’re making a loss on that. So I think the foundation of any good performance marketing is understanding your unique economics. And I’d say that’s, first and foremost, sometimes. So you have heard about and occasionally read about these startups raise huge amounts of funding, and they’re encouraged to grow at all costs. And they get into a bit of a death spiral in terms of just spending through the nose on Goliath through Google and Facebook to acquire users. But actually, they don’t fully understand their unique economics in their lifetime value. And it transpires that they might be, for example, buying customers 20 pounds that they’re making 10 pounds on. So actually, every single on paper, it might look great, okay, they’re getting all these extra customers, but actually, every extra customer they’re getting is losing them 10 pounds. And then it like I said, it becomes a bit of a death spiral.
So I think first foundation is a Unix unelma unit economics and that, yeah, that’s essentially acquisition cost and revenue per customer. And then you’re looking at the lifetime value of a customer as well. So you could be, for example, you might be making 1010 pound Commission on the first booking from a customer, and you might be acquiring them for 10 pounds. But actually, if you look at the lifetime value of that particular cohort of customers, throughout their whole life, they’re making you 50 pounds. So actually, that’s ultimately you’re going to be making a gross profit 40 pounds. So then that’s the foundation. That makes sense. And then from there, if you know your unit economics, it’s about scaling it as much as possible within that those investment principles. So guess what we feel paid search agency, it’s very much a case of, okay, we will get as many customers and as much traffic as you can, or as many customers as you can 10 pounds per page booking, for example, and it’s just a numbers game in an optimisation game rom there really.
In the early days, we invested hugely into SEO and paid massive dividends for us in terms of helping with our growth, getting hundreds of 1000s of unique visitors every month delivering hundreds of 1000s worth of revenue every month.
David: Yeah. You’ve seen the best and like the worst in terms of SEO and the need to stick with it. And it’s an ongoing investment. Do you have any general advice for marketers or business owners who are at the like at the very start of the infancy of their own SEO strategy?
Andrew: Yeah, that’s a good question. I would certainly say that it depends what your expertise and experience is. And if you have very little to non what you think search is going to be a big acquisition tool for you, you need to find yourself a good partner, or whether it be an agency like blu ray or a freelancer, you have complete faith. And I think probably the first port of call is doing an audit and seeing what what assets you have what you’ve gotten, and getting the ball rolling with this strategy. No Blue Array, do sort of audits like that, which we’ve done a couple of them, I’ve been really helpful. And going back to our super early days, I remember actually the when we started looking into this, and we Felix, myself a co founder, we had some hypotheses around what would make a good kind of SEO strategy, looking at some of the verticals like state agency and so on, and how we could use our own data and information.
We put that together in a document and we actually have an introduction to Simon and we took him out for a good old slap up lunch, which I think he thoroughly enjoyed. And he very kindly looked over our plans and gave us a few pointers and a few areas to look at. And he said some things are great on it, some things needs to be tweaked. And that was probably one of the most best however much it was spent on it. So yeah, that was how we started and that would be the foundation to what we were doing. And then this can be a lot of fun. There’s a lot of working money to do yourselves like writing this particular type of content, etc. But I think the best starting point is getting some professional advice on it. Whether Yeah, through an agency or professional whatever means that would be my advice.
David: As a CEO and a co founder, it’d be interesting to know what excites you and keeps you motivated their day to day.
Andrew: Yeah, I think we’re so for clip mechanic we are that we’ve been around for quite a few years now. A lot of regards to headroom, and the opportunities and where we can take on mechanics. Massive. So there’s just so much more we can do in terms of filling out fulfilling our mission and our vision of where we want to take the business. Yeah, I think every day we’re making progress towards that. And we operate a we call it it’s like a Google programme. Yeah, a Google programme called objectives and key results. Yeah. So every might be familiar with Okay, ours. Company. Philosophy. Yeah. And yeah, every year, every quarter, we we set our okay ours, and I think it’s great. At the end of the quarter, we do a retro, okay, how are we doing? Okay, we’ve hit these walls. We’ve just missed these ones. And when you go back in time, and you look okay, how far you’ve come? It’s, it’s quite exciting. And when you set those future plans, and those future objectives and key results, like where you can get the business to is, again, just exciting. Yeah, I think in short, it’s about fulfilling our vision and our mission for forklift mechanic and about making progress every day, week, month, quarter year, towards those towards those targets and goals that we want to do to help make Car Care easy for everyone everywhere in the in the automotive space.
David: What is your proudest achievement with Click Mechanic?
Andrew: That’s a really tough one. There’s a lot. Just because it’s at the top of my head, and we touched on it this this, there’ll be a lot I can’t I don’t think I can name any single one. But one, in particular, that made me pretty proud as the team’s response to what happened with COVID. So as I mentioned earlier, things happened and escalated so quickly. And a lot of people were really worried in around the country for the, for a whole host of reasons for their health, their loved ones, their jobs, job security. And we had a meeting with the team, we told them what we thought and what we’re planning to do. And their response was amazing. To be honest, we very quickly got a social sec on the case. And we were as well as working super hard to progress these opportunities or look at cost saving measures.
But a social sack who is arranging quizzes, online socials, doing what we could to keep morale up to collaborate to work together. And it was great it was it sounds crazy, but it was arguably some of the best. Despite the challenging circumstances, it was the team spirit in the best. Although it was still good before it almost elevated things to a new level. And just was, was really amazing to see. So I was really proud of the team of how we responded. And then when we got to sauna, and we were rocking again, and we were posting record, once when the industry as a whole was struggling. And we knew there was some carriages closing down and so on, we saw some more competitors went out of business, the fact we were able to rally and respond as we did was all very proud of that. So that would be one that springs to mind.
David: Kind of testament to the team spirit you’ve got there. That’s great to hear. What exciting plans are in the pipeline for the remainder of 2021?
Andrew: As I mentioned earlier, we’re big advocates of Lean Startup methodology. We’re constantly launching deploying new code, new features. And at the minute, we have a big focus on the supply side of our marketplace, we’re really trying to invest in the tools and the systems that mechanics use. Because we don’t want to just be a marketplace that delivers customers and leads to mechanics, we want to be the digital partner. So we’re investing in all sorts of features and tools. We’re doing regular surveys, interviews with all mechanics finding out what is it that doesn’t quite work for them with clip mechanic, what is it that they would love to see and we’re investing heavily into are the features that those guys can use to make it easier for them to manage click mechanic bookings, but also their own customer bookings.
We’re looking one of our big pieces of IP is our instant quote engine. And we’re, we’re constantly investing into that. And we’ll continue to do we’re investing into our account management and onboarding function as well to make it easier for new mechanics joining us to get on board and go pass through all the vetting and so on. So really, I think the big thing for us the big message at the minute that we’re we’ve been focused on so far this year and for a good chunk of the rest of the year is around let’s make this amazing experience for for our mechanics and become a great partner for these guys so they can run the businesses as well as possible.
David: Fantastic that kind of wraps up the questions from myself. I’ve been really fascinated to hear clip mechanic story, especially overcoming the adversity scene with the height of the COVID pandemic. So yeah, really thankful and appreciative of your time. And yeah, wish you the best of luck for the rest of the year and beyond.
Andrew: Thanks, David know, it’s been a pleasure coming on and speaking and yeah, we’re massive fans of yours and yeah, yeah, really excited to take our SEO forward with blu ray.
David: A big thank you to Andrew for giving us some of his time today. I hope you enjoyed the episode and I look forward to welcoming you to the next show.