Combining her extensive business-building skills with her husband’s mechanical prowess has enabled Blue Toro boss Janelle and Elvio Gonzalez to revolutionise Australia’s automotive repair industry.
The passionate car enthusiasts are the brains behind Blue Toro, a franchise of mobile mechanics with a pledge to end the rorts and rip-offs that are endemic in the trade.
Janelle, who also writes a popular motoring column for The Carousel and Women Love Tech, tells host Sarah Harris in the latest series of Game Changers that the response since launching the business in July 2013 has been phenomenal.
“I think the strength is having a female perspective in the industry for the first time,” Janelle tells Sarah.
“I think that is really important and a lot of the role I see that we have is empowering, not just women. A lot of people say the same story, men and women, that they are in a position of being disempowered.”
Janelle says 80% of consumers polled believe that they’ve been ripped off by a mechanic at some stage, but she blames the industry rather than the individual for the widespread distrust.
“The reality is that it’s not the mechanics, it’s the industry itself [at fault],” she says.
“Aussie mechanics are poorly paid, less than the average Australian, and same as an unskilled labourer.
“My view is that the industry is doing that to dangle the incentive carrots to them so they’re almost forced to upsell a whole bunch of things that none of us need just to feed their family.”
Janelle says that Blue Toro has turned the industry on its head by empowering the franchisee owners to build a long-term culture of trust with their customers with none of the upsells or hidden commissions so rampant in the larger networks.
“It comes back to a simple business model that suits a huge demand in the market,” says Janelle, who is also the author of The Car Survival Guide, which helps motorists navigate the industry myths and rip-offs from buying through to selling their car.