How Driven Brands is using data integration to unlock the customer experience in the automotive aftermarket

September 01, 2022

Editor’s note: In a recent Modern Digital Executive podcast and CIO Review article, our EVP and Chief Data and Digital Officer, Matt Meier, spoke about digital transformation and our opportunity at Driven.

In the car care industry, data and digital customer experience represent a new frontier.

Consider your experiences in the automotive aftermarket. Your vehicle requires service to keep it safe and operational over its lifetime: regular maintenance; car washes; fixing dents, windshields, or paint; having it repaired if something goes wrong. Most of these services aren’t connected; they are individual service shops in a highly fragmented industry. While these shops may understand the value of leveraging the data they have to scale and grow, they often lack the means or the ability to do it.

The result is uncharted territory, and a prime opportunity for Driven Brands.

Driven is a newly public portfolio company in the automotive aftermarket. We have built an enterprise with the most comprehensive collection of car care services in the industry. Drivers can get their cars washed, their oil changed, their car repainted, their auto glass replaced, and their dents fixed all under the Driven umbrella.

Through the services we provide, we learn a lot about our customers and their households – the kind of cars they drive, the condition of their vehicles, their service history, the likelihood of additional service needs, and how they prefer to be contacted. To illustrate this point, we talk about Mary, a representative customer at one of our Take 5 Oil Change locations. We’ve learned a lot from Mary in the six times she’s visited Take 5 Oil Change in the past three years. We know she drives a 10-year-old Ford Fusion with 90,000 miles. We know she lives 2 miles from a Take 5 Oil Change, and we know she lives just as close to two competitors. On her most recent visit, Mary upgraded to high-mileage oil, indicating she’s willing to invest in her vehicle.

Having this data itself doesn’t add tremendous value to our enterprise. The value lies in integrating that data – in leveraging it to unearth important customer insights with the potential to drive future business opportunities. As our company has scaled, our leaders recognized this untapped potential and created the role of chief digital and data officer – the role I assumed in late 2021 – to help Driven build a powerful digital business that would be the first of its kind in the automotive aftermarket.

I’ve done this type of work before, at companies in other industries that went in search of new opportunities to engage consumers in meaningful and interesting ways. Data and data-driven insights fuel those opportunities, allowing companies to tailor their customer interactions to meet demonstrated needs.

We can leverage our data to understand trends and predict what will happen in the future, to tailor and personalize customer interactions, and to diversify and scale our enterprise. As a result, data becomes a critical factor across all arms of the organization and requires technology leaders to evolve far beyond the traditional realm of internal IT support. We have commercial and operational accountability, and the expectations are higher than ever.

So is the potential for impact.

What does this data integration look like in practice at Driven? Let’s go back to Mary, our Take 5 Oil Change customer. Given all we know about the condition of her vehicle, we can make fairly accurate predictions about what automotive services she may need. We know when she’ll be due for her next oil change, and we can offer her bundled discounts for other services across our portfolio, driving value for Mary and for Driven.

We are expanding our digital tools that leverage this data to unlock new opportunities. For example, at Maaco, one of our major portfolio brands, we rolled out an online estimator tool that allows customers to generate estimates on their own time for service at one of our nearby shops. We can send this tool to Mary based on what we predict about her needs, empowering her to address outstanding issues with her vehicle, while keeping her within the family of Driven Brands.

The ubiquity of consumer insights creates tremendous opportunities for companies, but just as important as identifying needs and new potential revenue opportunities is creating a high-trust environment for our customers. No one wants to feel as though they are being upsold for no good reason, and yet very few of us understand the ins and outs of our vehicles. As vehicles become more complex, our ability to assess our own needs becomes even more complex. At Driven, our goal is to use our rich data insights to better understand our customers’ needs and to use this information in ways that add value to their cars and their lives.

My core focus is to create an environment and culture where our teams thrive with that goal in mind. Hiring is an “always-on” machine as we look for individuals with technological expertise and who also really understand business – the new gold standard for data and digital professionals. We need to be able to create the strategy in step with our business partners and execute quickly. After all, the power of data lies in its application.

In our industry, we need to scale these capabilities quickly. People are driving their cars longer. As referenced in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the average age of vehicles in the U.S. has climbed to a record high – 12.2 years – as car prices soar amid supply shortages. And older cars bring with them the need for more repairs and more maintenance.

At the same time, vehicles are now essentially built as mobile computers, generating mass quantities of data as we drive. A new car typically has more than 100 sensors and generates up to 25 gigabytes of data per day, according to an article in Automotive Weekly. As the industry further evolves with electric and autonomous vehicles, we foresee massive potential for exponential impact for our customers and for our enterprise.

At Driven, we have a vision: to become the most trusted and complete car care ecosystem – a one-stop-shop for all of Mary’s automotive needs. Data and digital are how we get there.

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