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Brakes To Go Founder Randall Huntsinger on Revolutionizing the Car Service Industry

Introduction

Car maintenance can bring a driver’s day to an abrupt halt. Most car owners dread having to deal with the hassle of repairs, which are often expensive and time-consuming. No one likes having to take off work to sit in an auto shop for hours on end.

To solve this problem, Brakes To Go has designed a service to bring brake repairs directly to customers. With a phone call or online booking, the company sends a certified mechanic to a client’s home or place of business. We reached out to Brakes To Go co-founder and CEO Randall Huntsinger to hear more about the inspiration behind the company and its emphasis on customer service. 

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Zee Zhong

In your own words, how would you describe the company?

Randall Huntsinger

On a macro level, Brakes To Go is a customer service company, first and foremost. We believe that regardless of what you do, a company’s focus must be on customer service for long-term success to be achieved. Your reputation is everything.

On a micro level, addressing what we actually do, Brakes To Go is a mobile brake repair company. We come to you to fix your brakes! We solve just about any brake maintenance issue while facilitating the most convenient and value-oriented customer service experience in the automotive service industry. 

We call our mobile service model “shopless”shopless convenience, shopless pricing,  shopless honesty. In other words, true value. By removing the shop from brake service, Brakes To Go provides unparalleled convenience to customers by performing brake repair at the customer’s home, work, or wherever their car is located. These time savings are compounded with price savings also inherent in our mobile model, as we don’t have the overhead expense of the typical multimillion-dollar automotive service center. Equally important, customers have long felt ripped off by automotive repair shops. By eliminating the need to turn their vehicle over to a shop, and by inspecting their vehicle and performing repairs right in front of the customer (if they desire), the transaction is completely transparent. In this way, Brakes To Go guarantees honesty and restores integrity to this otherwise dreaded process. Of course, this all goes back to our emphasis on customer serviceyour reputation is everything.

Zee Zhong

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

Randall Huntsinger

I was inspired by the enthusiasm, conviction, and performance of our COO, Jonathan Ganther, my co-founder and the original creator of the mobile automotive service model which eventually became Brakes To Go. It was Jonathan who first conceived of a specialized mobile service focused exclusively on brake repair. Jonathan put his idea to the test when he went to work for himself right out of technical school, first providing general automotive services via the mobile platform before appreciating the benefits inherent in brake service specialization. I have known Jonathan since he was a teenager, so I was not surprised when he came to me with his initial idea back in 2014. 

After reviewing his preliminary numbers, I soon agreed that the idea for our mobile specialty service could be a winning proposition. Of course, we both understood the massive challenge ahead of usconverting a consumer base from the traditional shop-based automotive repair to this completely new location-based modelbut also believed that once people “got it,” there would be no going back to the shop. This was the inspiration that made it clear to me that location-based servicing was the future of brake repair.

Zee Zhong

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Randall Huntsinger

Our core management team consists of long-term friends who have known each other for years. Though none of us are related, we really do feel like a family. The company is run by me as CEO, Jonathan Ganther as COO, and Louis “Trey” Richards as deputy operations director and our corporate secretary. As Jonathan and I have been friends for many years, we were of one mind on the type of person and personality that would be necessary in the “Number 2” operations position with the company. We actively sought out Trey for this position because he is a detail-oriented person with years of experience in customer serviceobservations we made over the more than 10 years of friendship we both have had with Trey. In this way, we formed a core management team tied by more than just the business.

Zee Zhong

How is Brakes To Go transforming the car service industry?

Randall Huntsinger

Brakes To Go is an industry disrupter that will forever change how people approach brake repair. Historically, consumers have been required to take their vehicle in for repairs. This typically meant coordinating with a co-worker or friend to drop their car off or taking time off work to devote a day or an afternoon to car repairs. And, of course, the need for repairs is never convenient and always feels like it happens at the worst time. These circumstances are the reality for most peoplebut they don’t have to be anymore.

With Brakes To Go, consumers have an option to repair their brakes in the normal course of their day, wherever that may be, without any interference with their normal daily routine. We regularly receive service requests from customers experiencing defective brake symptoms on their commute to work and who finally call us when they get to the office. In most of these cases, we can dispatch a technician to their location and service their vehicle the same day. On the commute home at day’s end, the customer is driving a vehicle with like-new brakesall without ever leaving their office. In fact, if desired, the entire repair experience can be conducted with zero direct customer-technician contacta comforting reality during pandemic times, certainly, but also a testament to the inherent innovation our service offers.

It is worth mentioning that a primary customer car repair complaint is dishonest service, whether it be overcharging for repairs or upselling repairs that customers suspect aren’t necessary.  Brakes To Go consumers don’t have to worry about either of these. We provide free, upfront quotes that allow consumers to “shop around” to confirm we are their best option. And our service vans only carry pads and rotorswe’ve literally got nothing else to sellso you’ll never have to worry about “recommended” secondary repair suggestions that have nothing to do with the reason for your initial complaint.

Zee Zhong

What are your expansion plans outside of Austin, Texas?

Randall Huntsinger

We intend to make Brakes To Go the brake repair leader across America. We are currently participating in a Regulation Crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine to fund our continued Texas expansion as well as open our first locations out of state. We currently offer services in Austin and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplexa new location in which we began offering services in late summer of 2020. The new service in Houston would then ideally be followed by our first steps out of state, hopefully by the end of 2022.

Zee Zhong

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Randall Huntsinger

The vast majority of Brakes To Go competitors are the traditional “brick and mortar” establishments that control the vast majority of automotive repair services worldwide. The shop-based service model has dominated since the invention of the automobile. To overcome these long-term service leaders in an efficient and cost-effective manner, Brakes To Go employs digital marketing to actively appeal to consumers who are online and searching for brake repair. Once consumers understand our message and the value inherent in our mobile model, the choice is obvious. I mean, there is no denying that nobody wants to go sit in a repair shop, so we have that going for us.

As for mobile competitors, they are emerging. There are several mobile automotive service providers who have recently come to market, but most of them do not offer a specialized brake service. Operationally, these companies lack the efficiency that specialization assures, making their service model less than ideal. As for the one or two mobile brake companies copying our model and trying to capitalize on what we have proven since 2015, we are years ahead of them, operationally. But regardless, the mobile service model, in general, is so early-stage that the presence of additional service providers is more of a benefit than a detriment. The more we advertise (and I mean Brakes To Go and any of these mobile service companies), the more legitimacy we lend to the mobile service model. Right now, legitimacy is our primary hesitation from customers accustomed to going to a shop for repairs, so the reinforcement of this mobile message is crucial to customer conversion.

Zee Zhong

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Randall Huntsinger

Our service is particularly scalable because it costs comparatively little for Brakes To Go to add service regions. You see, we can expand to new service regions without the need for local administrative support. We simply place a truck and a technician in a region and turn on our digital marketing. This is possible because all customer calls or digital service requests are handled at our Austin headquarters, regardless of customer location. Our HQ service coordinators have years of experience at preliminary diagnostics, price estimation, schedule coordination, and electronic parts ordering. The fact that we can service new regions without the duplication of administrative personnel is a key factor in our success and the reason we can scale with practically any level of investment. In other words, we don’t need “X amount of dollars” to secure real estate and hire customer service personnel for the new region. Instead, the more funding we secure, the more trucks we can field and the more advertising we can purchase. This means almost any level of funding can be put to use in one way or another.

Zee Zhong

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Randall Huntsinger

I primarily want potential investors to understand two things. 

Firstly, and most importantly, I hope they appreciate the revolution Brakes To Go truly offers to the automotive service industry. Like our customers, once a potential investor truly understands the service offering, they can’t help but appreciate that mobile service is the futurethere is no going back to the shop. 

Secondly, I feel it is important for potential investors to appreciate that Brakes To Go is much more than a mere idea. The reality is that our new and novel mobile service concept has been pioneered, refined, and improved by Brakes To Go for more than six years. In fact, between May 1, 2015 and January 31, 2021, we’ve grossed more than $9 million in brake repair revenues and serviced more than 16,000 customers. We have almost 1,000 five-star Yelp reviews and more than 700 five-star Google reviews. This performance is why we’ve had such an excited investor following and have raised almost $425,000 from more than 1,500 investors in our first crowdfunding campaign in 2019 on MicroVentures — not to mention the more than $130,000 that is currently pledged in our live campaign on StartEngine. Unlike most startups, we’re not asking investors to fund an idea. We’re a business.

Zee Zhong

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Randall Huntsinger

As for future goals, the Brakes To Go mission statement calls for our company “to provide honest and convenient brake repair with superior customer service to become the brake repair leader in America.” Our fulfillment of that goal across the nation is limited only by the pace of our fundraising. Presently, we are just shy of the funding necessary to execute that plan across the three major Texas metros (Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin) but are optimistic about our pace. Long term, we envision Brakes To Go as a combination of discount-tire-meets-Safelite, but for brake repair.

As for our five-to-10-year operating plan and exit opportunities, we have positioned the company for ultimate flexibility in that regard. Earlier this year, we converted our Texas LLC into a Nevada C-Corp. Our first Reg CF campaign closed almost two years ago with more than 1,500 investors. We are well on our way to qualifying our company for OTC trading in the next few years. Additionally, we see strategic partnership opportunities and buyout options from certain suppliers that would negate the need to eventually become an independent, publicly traded company.

We look forward to seeing where Randall and his team take the company. Brakes To Go is currently raising on StartEngine.

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