A FORMER London investment banker has returned to the North East to launch a new business that helps motorists source the best and most affordable mechanics.
Ian Griffiths from Morpeth, Northumberland, worked for the London offices of Japanese bank Mizuho for eight years before deciding to leave after the firm lost Lehman Brothers as a counterparty when the US financial services giant went bust in 2008.
With an interest in cars, Griffiths returned to his home town to launch used car website makeandmodel.co.uk, which currently has 30,121 vehicles listed.
However, with rival Auto Trader capturing the vast majority of the used car market, Griffiths turned to the garage repairs sector for his next business venture. Whocanfixmycar.com allows car owners to find local, trustworthy garages and mechanics, as well as compare their quotes online.
Car owners requiring a service, MOT, parts or a repair can post their job on the website for free and then wait for local mechanics and garages to provide a quote.
The car owner can then review the quotes they’ve received with the help of feedback and reviews from other users.
Griffiths, who works out of an office in Newcastle, is now looking to add additional features to the site, such as allowing users to upload pictures of their vehicles in order to help mechanics assess the damage.
Although the site has only been up and running for 10 weeks, Griffiths has already managed to grow the number of listed UK mechanics to over 1,500, and aims to get this to 10,000 over the next 12 months.
Local garages such as CB Motors in Cramlington, Northumberland, have already signed up for the service.
Griffiths said: “Whocanfixmycar.com is a quick, convenient and cost-effective approach to sourcing reputable local mechanics and garages, whether they’re independent or part of a nationwide chain.
“The cost of fixing your car can be a huge headache for many people, especially in today’s climate, so a service like this could prove to be a vital resource.
“Compared to my time in the high paced environment of investment banking, my role is now incredibly varied.
“I’m involved in all aspects of the business, including strategic website development, marketing and advertising. I’ve found the experience to be a very rewarding one and I’m glad that I finally decided to embrace my entrepreneurial side.”
Griffiths believes that Whocanfixmycar.com can become as big as similar sites based around other industries, such as MyBuilder.com, which lists almost 50,000 tradesmen.
He said: “I believe there is a huge gap in the market for a service like this and hope to grow sales as well as create jobs as a result.”