Hey auto repair shop owners! When’s the last time you examined your invoicing process?
Your shop’s invoicing process may seem like a small part of your business. But your auto repair shop invoicing software presents an oft-overlooked touchpoint with your customers. If you approach it strategically, your invoicing process can be adjusted swiftly and easily to yield tangible improvements to your bottom line.
For customers, the invoicing stage is likely the cause of some amount of stress; it’s never fun to write a big check to get your vehicle fixed.
For shop owners, the invoicing stage is an opportunity to show customers that they’re being taken care of. According to an extensive JD Power customer survey analysis of auto repair customers, “...Quality work done promptly, explained clearly, for a fair price, and delivered with excellent customer service is what leads to customer satisfaction among American drivers.”
A frictionless auto repair shop invoicing software that connects to the rest of your business allows you to build customer loyalty, as well as upsell, cross-sell, and reach a broader customer base. When you take care in how you invoice, and note the impact invoicing has on everything else, you can turn what is normally a stress-inducing process for customers into a process that builds trust and maintains a positive image for your shop.
Here’s how you can find synergy between your auto repair shop invoicing software and other parts of your process to build customer loyalty, improve your marketing, fuel sales, and grow your business.
Make the Payment Process Flexible
What do drivers need from you and your team? Generally, people need their cars back on the road as soon as possible. However, we don’t all live our lives at the same pace; people have different schedules and availability for pickup, as well as different financial needs. Customers need information about the repair job so they can plan their finances. Vehicle repairs can be expensive, and the estimate process is where drivers see just how expensive a given trip to the shop will be.
Many customers are also best served by an invoicing process that is as touchless as possible. Instead of hanging around a shop, it makes sense for them to be able to drop their car off and come back later, especially as the world manages COVID and other safety or regulatory issues.
Connect Your DVI, Estimate, and Invoicing Processes
Your estimate, invoice, and digital vehicle inspection (DVI) should all connect in your shop. If you’re using multiple systems to send these out, or are missing potential opportunities for automation, you are losing time that could be spent fixing vehicles, servicing customers, and thinking big picture about your business.
The invoicing phase really starts when you produce an estimate and put a number on the table that leads to personal financial decisions for the driver.
DVIs with photos and videos make talking the customer through the work much easier, saving time and stress on both sides of the service desk. Customers who can see the suggested work are more likely to sign off, too, boosting the Gross Profit Dollars and Average Repair Order of your shop.
Of course, the invoice is the final sale. It must leave the customer with a sense of satisfaction and trust, and complete the process with respect to their needs.
The less moving parts in your workflow, the better. Use an auto repair shop invoicing software that connects these three separate steps in a process that is as easy as possible for all involved.
Make Communication Easy
Your auto repair shop invoicing software should be seamless and simple. Does it present options in a way that is easy to understand? Is it simple for drivers to open your invoice?
To keep the payment process smooth and easy, make sure your auto repair shop invoicing software utilizes text-to-pay so that customers can pay from their phone. That small reduction in steps provides a little extra peace-of-mind for your customers so they can worry less about their repairs and continue to focus on their day.
Since the invoicing process really begins with the estimate, you want to make sure that you are able to communicate with customers, and agree upon the repair work as clearly as possible. Any confusion in the estimate process may lead to customers paying more than they expected, and in a worse-case-scenario, a chargeback.
It’s good to have a true two-way text capability built into your invoicing software so that you can clear up any pricing confusion with customers, even when they step away from the shop.
Track Declined Work
Some customers may not be able to pay for all of the work you present. And that’s okay! As long as your software is able to track declined jobs, you can follow up with customers later on down the road.
Following up can lead to extra repair work, and it’s good for drivers, who are trying to manage the maintenance on their vehicles alongside everything else going on in their day-to-day lives. They may not be thinking about when their car needs an oil change or when they need to change their brake pads. By showing that you are thinking about those things, you’re letting them know that you are there to help them out; you’re giving them a little extra service that many other shops can’t or won’t.
Make sure your system has a feature to track declined work, and train your service advisors how to connect with customers who need it.
Tie it to Accounting
There’s no need to duplicate the act of counting invoices or reconciling them. You should be able to integrate your auto repair invoicing software with your accounting software. When an invoice clears, the balance sheet should change, presenting a realtime view of your shop performance. The less lag, the crisper the insights; a delay of several hours between updates can give you an incomplete picture of daily performance.
A clean accounting process makes your job easier in so many ways: cleaner reports, less time tinkering with data, and fast decision making for the health of your business. The simple solution of syncing up your auto repair invoice software with your accounting system will pay dividends for you and anyone else making leadership decisions for your business.
Reinforce Your Brand
The invoicing process is an opportunity to set the stage for further followup and touch points in the future: discounts and deals, customer satisfaction surveys, event invites, and follow up on work that needs to be done. A smart invoicing system can drive both leads and conversions.
Are you putting your best face forward on your invoice? Make sure your logo, website, and phone number are on the invoice. Add taglines or other writing that you think will send a positive message to your customers. Anywhere the invoice traces back to (either in the shop or online) should look like an extension of what you send your customers. So keep your website and social media up to date.
If you own multiple shops, make sure there is uniformity across all invoicing systems so that you can reinforce your brand standards no matter which location a driver brings their car to. The more consistent the customer experience, the better it will be for your end customer, and the more you will be able to test ideas for your shop so you can innovate, too.