By Tom Davis
Eastport, Newfoundland -- October 8, 2017 -- A new mobile application is aiming to help the industry by creating a more time efficient and cost-effective alternative to sourcing car parts.
The app has been developed by Newfoundland-based technology company Parts Finder Plus (PF+). Founded in 2012 by Peter Squire and Stephanie Maloney, the company aims to provide technology solutions to problems and inefficiencies that they have observed through their experience of owning and operating an automobile service station in Eastport, Newfoundland.
The company's app, PF+, is designed to allow shops to search and order parts on demand directly from the phone or tablet, as opposed to individually contacting parts distributors via telephone and trying to track down the best part.
Maloney said: “To locate parts, we currently have to sit down and call at least four distributor stores, or jump from one app to the next to record what’s available from each. We decided to do some research, and found there wasn’t yet a part sourcing app that ties into the repair shop and distributor account. So we began our endeavour to build Parts Finder Plus, an app that could source all the top aftermarket distributors into one efficient parts-locating app.”
The app will allow the owner or technician to open a database on their phone where they can simply search parts by adding data such as the year, make, and model of the vehicle and the part required. The app will then search through a database of distributors and list all of the options for the part, including the different prices, delivery times, warranties, and available quotes from each distributor. Once a product is selected, an immediate confirmation will be received.
“Using the PF+ app will save bodyshops a significant amount of time, allowing them to service more cars in a single day, while at the same time saving their customers money by finding them the best price on quality car parts in their geographic area,” said Maloney.
After three years of product testing and business development, PF+ is currently in the process of updating the app for commercial launch. However, the company has struggled to obtain a government grant to develop it further, with the government claiming there is no benefit for Newfoundland.
Maloney adds: “In early 2014, we began approaching the Federal and Provincial Government Funding Agencies, for financial assistance to code in the other distributors and to upgrade the app. It is now 2017 and we are still trying to get the new version built.”
The company is now looking for prospective customers for a free three to six month trial period where users will give feedback on how the app is being used. First the company is focusing on building version 2.0 of the app, but it hopes increased interest from customers and trial sign-ups will push the government into assistance.
Version 1 is currently being used and tested by Pete’s Service Centre in Newfoundland and has already signed a licensing agreement with CARQUEST (coded in), Advanced Auto (to be coded in), and NAPA (to be coded in). The company hopes to get Version build 2.0 built soon.
Peter Squire, owner of Pete's Service Centre, commented: “Using the app saves me a lot of time. I simply pick up my phone and it shows me the cheapest price. It take at least 10 minutes for me to pick up the phone and call suppliers to find a part, whereas using the app takes me about 30 to 60 seconds at the most. You also don't have to keep getting up and going to the office. That's something I particularly like about it.”
PF+ is also currently looking for investors who are interested in learning more about the product.