How Digital Vehicle Inspection Software Can Vastly Increase Sales and ARO
Give more to the people you care about. With the right digital vehicle inspection software, you can boost profits and positively impact more lives.
So much of what makes life joyous is being there for other people. Part of the joy of running an auto repair shop is being able to help your team members go where they want to go in life, get your customers back on the road as quickly as possible, and give back to your community.
Money isn’t everything in life, but money can help you give back to the people you care about—your loved ones, your team members, your customers, and your community. When you increase your sales and Average Repair Order (ARO), you’re able to invest more in people.
When your team members have more money in their bank accounts, they can live more fulfilling lives. When your customers walk into your shop and see the modern tools and processes you’ve implemented, they’ll be more likely to recommend your shop to their friends and family. And of course, more money means you’ll be able to live the life you want to live and give back so you can better the lives of others.
There are different ways you can increase your sales and ARO, such as:
But one of the best ways to increase your sales and ARO is at the inspection and estimate stage, where you can show customers possibilities.
In life, possibilities can take on a positive or negative spin. For instance, picture yourself at a burger joint. You might have walked in with a plan to order a cheeseburger and soda. But while standing in line, you see that the restaurant is offering a limited-edition banana nut muffin shake. That’s a positive possibility! You decide to go for it, swap out your soda, and pay two dollars extra for the shake. Hello, milkshake bliss.
Now, when you’re buying that burger and shake, your incentive is to try something new. It’s a purchase you want to make. But vehicle repairs aren’t something most people are excited about. Rather, they’re something customers need but don’t necessarily want to buy. The reason that people get their vehicles repaired is to avoid negative possibilities. If they don’t fix their breaks or replace their tires, they’re more likely to get into an accident.
Waiting on inspection results just isn’t as exciting as purchasing a banana nut shake, making it even more important to inform and show your customers what’s going on. The better you can explain their vehicles’ issues, the more likely they are to be on board with getting that repair work done.
During the inspection and estimate stage, your team’s job is to show customers the reality of their situation, and possible action plans. The customer’s vehicle might have an issue that needs attention ASAP but might also have a budding issue that’ll be a problem in the months to come. If your team clearly lays out these findings and explains to the customer why that second finding will be a problem in the future, the customer will be more likely to act on it and purchase that repair either right then and there, or down the line, meaning more money for your shop.
If you’ve been in the auto repair business for any length of time, chances are you have a process for inspections and estimates.
Maybe that process involves pen and paper. Each technician might jot down findings on a piece of paper, and then a service advisor will take that paper and add pricing and other necessary information. Or, perhaps that process involves inspection forms, which provide some more structure than pen and paper, but aren’t integrated into a broader system—nor do they allow a seamless way to take and add photos of issues. If service advisors and technicians write on these forms, the risk of potentially putting eligible documents in front of customers still exists. If you have technicians and service advisors type on these forms, then email or print them to customers, and then upload the documents to a shop computer—instead of writing on them by hand—you trade one set of problems (lack of structure and the risk of bad handwriting) for another. Your team members will have to start dealing with digital file management. They might start saving the inspection forms in different folders, overwriting file names, etc. That bad file management will eventually catch up to your shop.
That’s not to say that pen and paper and digital inspection forms don’t have benefits. After all, there’s a reason why some people prefer those methods. But ultimately, these two methods make it difficult to track inspections and estimates at your shop, and also make it difficult to keep records of those inspections and estimates (which we highly recommend to safeguard your business). With paper and digital inspection forms, things can get disorganized quickly. You’ll have to hunt down records in file cabinets or computer files. You may not even end up finding those records, because unfortunately, paper is easy to misplace, and digital files can become hard to locate because they were uploaded to the wrong folder, or flat-out overwritten.
Additionally, it’s not as easy to sell more work at the inspection and estimate stage if you use pen and paper or digital inspection forms, simply because it’s more challenging to show customers what’s going on with their vehicles. There’s limited space on paper, making it difficult for your team to explain the necessity and severity of findings to customers. Digital inspection forms can become unwieldy the more your team members add to them, and oftentimes, they don’t easily allow for photos and videos of inspection findings.
Both options also present tracking challenges. If a customer declines a particular job, it’s tougher for service advisors to circle back to them later and ask if they’d like to pick things back up with their repair work. Service advisors have to spend valuable time searching for the physical or digital copies. And that’s provided that you remember that the customer declined that job to begin with! Given how busy repair shops get, it could very well slip your mind.
By contrast, with digital vehicle inspection software, your technicians and service writers will be using the same system, meaning all information will exist in one central location. The software will save digital records of your shop’s inspections and estimates, making it easy for anyone on your team to locate declined work at a later time and touch base with customers about coming back to the shop.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh, I want to take the leap away from pen and paper,” or “I’m ready to upgrade from digital forms,” we understand that change is hard. Taking that leap means teaching your team a new way of handling inspections and estimates. Your repeat customers will have to adjust as well. However, you can mitigate these challenges during the research stage. When researching digital vehicle inspection software solutions, consider how each feature works together to make life easier for your team and your customers. Consider how it will save your service advisors time. Think about how it might build trust with customers.
Vehicle inspections have come a long way. Here are six core features that are becoming industry standards for high-performance digital vehicle inspections.
When researching digital vehicle inspection software solutions, you should look for these six core features that benefit your team and your customers:
When used together, these six features will make your shop an inspection and estimate powerhouse.
The past can tell you a lot about the present, especially with vehicles. A vehicle that had a particular issue in the past might have issues in the present day that tie back to that original problem.
Of course, your team members will ask customers about previous issues their vehicles have had. With new customers, there’s no way around this step, because your shop doesn’t have records of their past visits. But with your regulars, there is a way around having to ask them about past repair work.
Tekmetric’s DVI history feature enables technicians to swiftly see inspection results for vehicles that have been to your shop before. In a matter of seconds, you and your team can access previous inspection findings and know which findings they need to follow up on.
By easily being able to search DVI histories, technicians will save time. They don’t have to dig through files to find what they’re looking for, and your shop will be even more professional as a whole. Consider this: If you took your car to a shop a second or third time, wouldn’t you be impressed if the technicians were able to recall previous inspection findings without having to ask you, or without taking a long time to find your file?
Easily accessible DVI histories will also help your shop sell more repair work. Since technicians are able to quickly find out what was uncovered during previous inspections, they can pick up right where they themselves or their teammates left off. They’re less likely to miss a repair opportunity and leave money on the table.
Seeing is believing. That’s a statement you’ve probably heard a thousand times, and it’s especially true in the auto repair industry.
It’s one thing to tell a customer, “Hey, your car has really bad engine corrosion.” It’s another thing to show the customer a photo of the orange, brittle-looking rust all over their engine. When customers can see what’s really going on with their vehicles, they’re more likely to trust your team’s word and authorize repairs right then and there. They’ll be less inclined to shop around for a second opinion or tell you, “Oh, I’ll sleep on it and come back tomorrow.”
Tekmetric’s digital vehicle inspections and estimates make it easy for technicians to snap photos and videos and quickly attach them to digital vehicle inspections, right from their smartphones or tablets. They won’t have to deal with manually uploading, downloading, and attaching large photo and video files from a laptop or desktop computer. They can get the photos and videos they need as they work, add them to inspections, and move on with their day. Technicians can even draw on photos to highlight certain findings, like circling a part that has an issue or drawing an arrow pointing to it. After a technician puts together an inspection, and a service advisor sends it to the customer, the customer will be able to view the photos and videos from whichever device they’re on.
Right now, your service advisors might end up having drawn-out conversations with customers about the severity of certain vehicle issues. A technician might jot down a few notes on a paper estimate about how pressing particular repairs are, but then it’s up to the service advisor to deliver that information to the customer in a clear, concise way.
When explaining repairs to customers, the best route is often the simple one. Not because they aren’t capable of understanding—they are! But rather because information overload can actually hinder peoples’ ability to make decisions. You’ve probably dealt with information overload when going out to eat; with a shorter menu, you likely decided what you wanted to order much faster than with a menu that spanned page after page. It’s the same deal with your customers. If they get an inspection that breaks down every minute detail of the intricacies involved with the inspection findings, they might feel overwhelmed and unconfident in their ability to decide how to move forward. But if you show them the severity of inspection findings via a color-coded system—a concise way that gets the point across—they’ll have an easier time deciding on which proposed repairs to approve. This means there’s an increased likelihood that your shop will gain more revenue.
Tekmetric’s digital vehicle inspections and estimates help your customers make sense of a lot of information with a color-coded system that indicates the severity of each inspection finding. Green means nothing is wrong, yellow means something might become a problem later on, and red means the issue needs to be fixed ASAP. With one glance, customers will better understand how their vehicle is really doing and quickly decide which repairs they want to act on now.
One major problem with estimates on paper or digital forms is that there are a lot of manual tasks involved, particularly when it’s time for service advisors to add parts and labor data.
Service advisors might have to grab a separate booklet and flip through the pages to find the relevant labor rates. Or, they might have to leave their workstations to walk to the back of the shop to double-check if a part is in stock. With everything going on, service advisors might accidentally scribble down the wrong piece of information, resulting in the customer getting the wrong parts and labor pricing, or inaccurate parts availability. The customer may not even realize the service advisor made a mistake, but the wrong information can still leave a bad impression. For example, the customer might raise an eyebrow at an oil change that’s double the price of what they usually pay at other shops, but attribute it to your shop being more expensive, not the service advisor making a mistake. They might opt out of the oil change, walking away, resulting in a lost sale for your shop or they might leave your shop a negative online review.
Digital vehicle inspection software, like Tekmetric, helps service advisors incorporate parts and labor pricing from one system to resolve these issues. Using Tekmetric, service advisors can search the built-in labor guide to find and add relevant labor times, add in-stock parts or order out-of-stock parts, and apply labor and parts matrices to land on the right pricing—all without spending valuable time hunting down information in booklets and file cabinets, and without having to get up from their workstations. In turn, customers will get accurate estimates from the get-go. Your team won’t have to scramble to explain that a part was out of stock or that they accidentally mispriced labor and need to charge them more money. In turn, customers will be more likely to have a positive impression of your shop, deciding to come back in the future and even refer their friends and family.
If you’re using a pen and paper method or digital forms, your technicians probably find themselves writing similar estimates day after day. Digital vehicle inspection software with a canned jobs feature will speed up estimates for your service advisors by removing the need to write jobs by hand or type them over and over again.
With canned jobs, your team will save time during the estimate building stage. Customers will be able to review their inspection findings and estimates faster, meaning your team will get authorization to get started more quickly, leaving time to fit in more repairs on a given day. Time adds up fast, and shaving off time here and there will ultimately make a big difference.
The easier you make it for your customers to authorize repair work, the more likely they’ll quickly do so, so your technicians can get to work ASAP. Think about it this way: if you’re in the process of buying, say, a new cell phone line for your family plan, you’re more likely to get things rolling faster if the company has a simple process for customers to add new lines. Generally, the fewer barriers in front of people, the more likely they are to act. When people are trying to accomplish a task and face hurdles, they might go, “What’s the point? This takes too much effort. Forget it” or “I’ll just deal with this later. I don’t feel like calling the shop right now. I’ll call them in an hour to let them know what work I’ll approve.”
With paper estimates or “regular” digital estimates, customers might have to verbally approve or decline jobs in person or over the phone, leaving room for misunderstandings if service advisors mishear something. But Tekmetric’s estimates leave very little, if any, room for that type of miscommunication. Once service advisors email or text customers their estimates, customers can select the exact repair work they want done. Any repair work they want to hold off on, they can decline. When they send back their approvals and refusals, your technicians will know exactly what they need to work on.
Since customers can speedily get their approvals over to your team, your technicians can start turning the wrenches ASAP, completing those repairs faster. And when customers get their cars back in a timely manner, they’ll be impressed and more likely to come back, and recommend your shop to their friends and family. And, that freed-up time means more time to fit in more repairs.
Some repair work is going to get declined. It might be because the customer doesn't have the budget for it at the moment, or they don’t want to extend their visit to your shop this time around because they have other obligations. Or, perhaps the finding was marked in yellow, meaning the customer knew it was not yet a severe problem.
But don’t worry. Declined jobs show that your shop is thorough with inspections and estimates; your team caught every budding and existing issue with each vehicle. Think of declined jobs as future business opportunities for your shop.
One of the most effective ways to drive more profits for your shop is to sell to your existing customers. It’s simply easier to sell an additional repair that was previously discussed to an existing customer versus getting a new customer to walk through your doors. But to sell these previously discussed repairs down the road, you need to remember about them in the first place! Remembering and keeping track of declined jobs can get tricky with a pen and paper method. Service advisors might totally forget about these opportunities, or if they remember, they’ll have to dig through stacks of paper or navigate folder after folder on a computer just to find the right estimate.
Never forget a declined job again. With Tekmetric, your team can save and track declined jobs. When a customer approves or declines jobs from their device, Tekmetric stores records of those authorized and declined jobs, so your team members can reference them anytime. If a customer declines a job in April because it was color-coded “yellow” (not urgent), but your team pointed out that the issue will become serious (“red”) during the summer, a service advisor can easily pull up the record of which job the customer declined, and when, and give the customer a friendly call reminding them that it’s time to come back to get that problem checked out. With Tekmetric’s ability to save and track declined jobs, your shop will no longer leave business opportunities on the table.
As you research different digital vehicle inspection software options on the market, consider opting for a system that makes it easy for your team to seamlessly move between inspections and estimates and makes it easy for them to efficiently move through the other stages of the repair process.
With a system that enables your team to efficiently get through various stages of the repair process, your employees won’t have to worry about learning how to navigate multiple systems, dealing with multiple open tabs, or being overloaded with information, just to name a few challenges. They’ll be able to tackle different parts of their jobs with one system, selling more work and building more trust with customers along the way.
Some other features you should look for in a shop management system include:
By thinking about how you can make every stage of the repair process at your shop more efficient, you’ll put your shop in the best position possible to increase sales, reach higher and higher AROs, and make life easier for your team and customers.
Not every solution will work for your shop, and as you weigh different options, be sure to ask the right questions, get a feel for the team behind each solution, listen to your team’s input, and demo the various systems alongside your employees. Taking these steps will maximize your chances of finding a system that your team loves to use and your customers trust.
With Tekmetric, you can make your shop better and better each day, throughout every aspect of the repair process. Features like digital vehicle inspections, Tekmessage True Two-Way Texting, Tekmerchant Text-to-Pay, the Job Board, and the Tech Board will power your shop to run more smoothly and efficiently than ever, in turn helping you increase your profits.
Schedule a demo to explore the possibilities.