Q&A: Openbay CEO on State Farm Partnership
March 10, 2017—Earlier this week, Openbay an online marketplace for auto repair, announced a partnership with State Farm. Open to State Farm customers and non-customers alike, Openbay will provide special offers and incentives for people to book vehicle service through its nationwide network of auto repair centers. It's the company's second major insurer partnership, following its collaboration with Allstate last year.
Openbay CEO Rob Infantino spoke with FenderBender to discuss how the partnership was formed and how the involvement of insurance companies could affect the market.
How did this collaboration with State Farm come to be?
When you look at all the top insurance companies—State Farm, Geico, Progressive, Allstate—they're constantly working toward improving customer retention. They don't like their clients moving off of their platform to others.
So what you're seeing is they're offering a lot of value-added services. At some point in your lifetime, you're going to buy a car, you're going to insure it. Some of these insurance companies will even help you finance a vehicle. If you get into a car accident, they'll help you with getting it repaired and protecting you from legal issues. And then, when you decide to dispose of a vehicle, they'll help you sell it.
But what was missing in the middle for a long time was the ability to maintain that vehicle. There was a service gap. The theory is a well-maintained car is a safer car. So we help them bridge that service gap.
Are there other companies offering this service to insurance companies?
They're forming partnerships not just with Openbay, but also TrueCar and Edmunds. We just happen to fit the repair segment of the life cycle. We have relationships with many other insurance companies. They've gone through a significant due diligence process where they've done internal and external testing with consumers using Openbay, and we come out on top every time. We have great relationships and we believe we can help these insurance companies keep their customers on their platforms and not go elsewhere.
What are the real benefits for the market with insurance companies getting involved?
It's a huge benefit. State Farm has 45 million policyholders on their platform. If they're marketing Openbay to their policyholders, and they're marketing Openbay to the general public, this is a tremendous opportunity for shops to get on the platform. Because when you think about it, you do the math, there's 250 million vehicles on the road, and you've got a company that represents 45 million, that's a significant percentage of the overall population of vehicles on the road. I think shops could benefit from the increase in traffic, and consumers will benefit from the marketplace, because they're going to get high quality service.