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VOL. 46 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 15, 2022

Do you really need Yoshi?

Gas delivery, remote services come at a cost. Are you willing to pay?

By Joe Morris

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With gas prices hovering between $4 and $5 a gallon, anything to ease pump pain is welcome. How about a fast-growing, Nashville-based company that will search for the lowest price within 2 miles, deliver it to you at that price and maybe wash the car and change out the wiper blades while they’re at it?

Yep, there’s an app for that.

Yoshi, an on-demand gas delivery service, offers auto detailing, oil changes and other services wherever your car is parked. Download the app, sign up for a membership, tap what services you’d like and schedule an arrival.

That convenience comes at a price, of course: Membership at $40 per month or $384 if you pay for a full year. There is a 30-day trial for those who want to try without the commitment.

The process is simple. A weekly email reminder is sent on Sundays if service is scheduled for the coming week. The vehicle owner states where the vehicle will be parked.

“If they are at home, we’ll work in their driveway,” says Ryan Meyer, head of business operations and partnerships. “If they’re in a downtown garage, they just need to have the car where we can get to it. All we need is a gate code or way to access, and we can take care of the rest. The scheduling is very flexible, and we do it all through the app.”

Seven years out from its 2015 launch in Silicon Valley by co-founder and CEO Bryan Frist, son of surgeon and former Sen. Bill Frist, and with backers such as General Motors (whose venture capital arm led a $23 million investment round in 2020), Yoshi is now in nine states, including Tennessee, now its corporate home.

The company declines to say how many customers it has, stating only that it has “hundreds of thousands” of vehicles registered. It also claims to have performed 1 million vehicle services since it launched.

What Yoshi offers/costs

Yoshi offers its services in two tiers:

• $32/month if paid in a single, annual amount of $384

• $40/month, recurring membership charged monthly

Both memberships come with a $10 non-gas service credit

• Gas Delivery: Yoshi sets its gas prices based on the lowest price at service stations within a two-mile radius of where the car is parked. Users can check gas prices for that day before ordering. The service allows for four fill-ups per month. Additional fill-ups will incur additional fee.

• Oil Change: Starts at $99. Conventional, synthetic or Mobil 1 oil change and filter replacement.

• Wash & Detail: Starts at $35 for hand wash. Interior and exterior add-ons available such as mini ($89) and executive ($189) detailing.

• Additional Services: Wiper blade replacement (starting at $42), windshield fluid top-off (starting at $9.50), windshield cleaning (starting at $7) and tire-pressure check (starting at $6).

Yoshi also services electric vehicles but does not yet offer charging.

Information: www.startyoshi.com

Yoshi also has beefed up its in-vehicle presence, and is now fully integrated with several onboard programs such as GM’s OnStar, and to date has raised more than $46 million from GM Ventures, Bridgestone, ExxonMobil and sports stars Kevin Durant and Joe Montana.

The company relocated to Nashville in January 2021, and although Music City is its only Tennessee market so far, it has snagged multiple corporate clients including HCA, Eco-Energy and MediCore Medical Supply, along with its direct-to-consumer business. It serves the Nashville metro area, stretching south to the General Motors plant in Spring Hill.

Targets corporate market

The COVID years of 2020 and 2021 were difficult for the company, Meyer says. Still, Yoshi reports that it is now back to operating at pre-pandemic levels and has turned its attention to gaining traction with employers looking for creative ways to get employees out of their home offices and back into the workplace.

“We always had corporate programs, where companies purchased a subscription for employees, and that has become a much larger push now,” Meyer says. “What we did during the slowdown was look at how we could grow the business.

“People weren’t driving, or driving very little, so we began to look at other services, such as car washing and detailing, as well as what markets we wanted to get into as the economy reopened,” Meyer continues. “We also focused on growing our fleet business, which is our third focus alongside consumer and corporate verticals.”

Yoshi defines fleet customers as those with more than 10 vehicles that are housed at a central site after being on the road all day. In addition to refueling services, fleet customers also receive preventive maintenance via a service plan customized to business size and need.

Marketing to corporate customers is heavy on convenience, with Meyer saying one of Yoshi’s larger corporate customers realized savings of “20,000 hours for their people last year. And on average, Yoshi allows employers to provide time savings equivalent to a couple of extra PTO days each year.”

Yoshi service technician Austin Pruitt sprays down a van during a call on a fleet client. Washes, oil changes and fuel delivery are among the services the young company offers.

-- Photo By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

Pricing for corporate clients is based on the number of employees enrolled, with discounts applicable at different levels, Meyer says.

For potential fleet customers, Yoshi positions itself as being able to reduce labor costs from taking vehicles off-site for basic services, as well as offering a centralized set of data points to track specific vehicles as well as overall fleet performance.

Strategic expansion

Meyer says Yoshi will continue to add services but will do so through the lens of consumer demand. Its offerings now mirror those of long-vanished full-service gas stations, where it was routine to have the oil checked, fluids topped off and more done while the tank was filling.

Unlike full-service gas stations, which would routinely perform those services free, Yoshi charges for everything from windshield cleaning ($7) to tire-pressure checks ($6).

Services provided by Yoshi include fuel delivery, washes (starting at $35), oil changes ($99 or more) and windshield wiper replacement (starting at $42).

-- Photo By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

As Meyer puts it, “Our team is already on-site and touching the car, so what else can we do while we’re there?”

That same approach is being taken to footprint expansion. New markets are looked at in terms of driving population and what companies are there that might align with Yoshi’s existing corporate accounts.

“When we go into a new city, we want to reach out to the people who are interested in what we’re already providing to hundreds and thousands of customers,” Meyer says. “Right now, our service as a convenience is also a strong selling point. Yoshi is being incorporated into a lot of return-to-work packages, just like paying for a gym membership or other perk. They are paying for the membership and the delivery fee, so the employee is only paying for the gas and for any services they order.”

That includes setting the gas pricing, which is done by gauging the lowest price at service stations within a two-mile radius of where the car is parked. Myers says Yoshi’s price is the lowest price, on average, within that radius, so it’s competitive, even with its membership fee.

“We are tracking prices every day and pulling that information in so we can give the best price,” he says. “The consumer will see that price in the app before they order, and on their receipt it will show what they saved compared to nearby gas stations.”

Yoshi currently has two types of vehicles in its fleet: trucks that provide gasoline, and service vans that provide its other offerings. Drivers of the fuel trucks can check tire pressure and swap out wiper blades, Meyer says, but if someone orders auto detailing or anything else along with their gas, they’ll get visited by two different vehicles. That enables the company to touch more cars per day as it ramps up in any given market.

Employee enticement

For their part, employers say they are finding Yoshi to be an asset for a workforce that isn’t eager to head back to the office.

“We just renewed for a second year and began offering Yoshi to employees last summer when we began our return to office strategy,” says Sheila Witt, director of human resources for Eco-Energy, an energy marketer and midstream services company based in Franklin. “One of our senior leaders had been using Yoshi and spoke very highly of it, and it was a great thing to soften that transition back to the office.”

Witt admits that at first she was skeptical, saying “I thought ‘How difficult is it to go to the gas station?’ but now I am a top user.

“When you’re at work all day, every day, it’s nice to get gas and maybe get your tires checked or an oil change while your car is just sitting there parked.”

“You’re giving your employees the gift of time and convenience,” Meyer says. “That can relieve stress and boost morale because it just helps someone do more in their day.

“Companies now are needing to have innovative perks for people, not just for those returning to the office but also for new hires,” he continues. “It’s a tough job market, and if you’re providing a way for them to get their car washed and tank filled while they’re at work, and maybe even new wiper blades and an oil change, people will respond well to that.”

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