How the Right Mix of Automotive Computer Programs Fuels Business Innovation
By selecting the right mix of automotive computer programs, you have the ability to embrace innovation in your shop.
“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity—not a threat.” - Steve Jobs
Like any business owner, auto repair shop owners must consider all aspects of their business: operations, marketing, collections, bookkeeping, payroll, profitability, and customer service. But how do you track, monitor, and gain control over these various business functions and analyze the relationship between them? Many shop owners turn to automotive computer programs as a solution, but there are a lot of options to consider. As you research automotive computer programs, you may be asking yourself:
Is it better to have one program for each business function, or one system that covers various aspects? What is the right mix of programs?
Tekmetric is a cloud-based shop management system; but that doesn’t mean all other softwares and systems out there align with what our software can do. Some automotive computer programs cover diagnostics, some focus on marketing, some focus on digital inspections, and there are some systems out there that check off most—if not all—the boxes.
There is a lot to consider when determining which automotive computer programs are right for your business, and we want to make sure your shop’s needs are met.
Automotive computer programs help shop owners like you stay on top of all, or individual, aspects of your shop by bringing visibility into your shop’s operations. The programs you decide to go with are designed to help with singular components to your shop, various functionalities, or are created to link up with additional industry-leading solutions. Depending on the program—or programs—you choose for your shop, some or all of your team will benefit.
According to a survey by V12, 75% of the aftermarket auto repair jobs are performed by independent auto repair shops, while 25% of the business is with dealerships. The consumer demand for independent auto repair work has led to a series of innovations for independent auto repair shops, including better shop management systems and programs.
Innovative automotive computer programs assist shops in providing stellar customer experience, the ability to check off tasks in a timely manner, and a birds-eye-view into shop profitability.
The demand from consumers has motivated shop owners to find innovative solutions to:
To make your search for the right mix of automotive computer programs less daunting, we’ll explore three different categories you can use as a reference: how the program functions, how the program is hosted, and how the program integrates with other programs.
Automotive computer programs can be complex or specific. The programs that are more complex offer a variety of features that can tackle different components of shop management and repair work, whereas a specific program is created to help with one component of the shop—whether that be digital vehicle inspections (DVIs), estimates, marketing, and so on.
Whether you choose to go with a complex or specific automotive computer program, you are faced with another level of functionality: whether the program addresses a specific auto repair shop function, a business function, or both.
Auto shop specific functions include: DVIs, car diagnostics, inventory, estimate, shop management
General business functions include: payment, marketing, CRM, accounting, reporting
Automotive computer programs can be further categorized by how they are hosted—whether that’s on premise or on the cloud. A cloud-based (also referred to as web-based and cloud-hosted) automotive computer program is hosted on the cloud and can be accessed from a browser. An automotive computer program that is on-premise is installed and operated from an in-house server and can only be accessed in that area, unless you set up an extensive remote workaround.
As shop owners, you know what’s best for your shop, so only you will know what the right mix of automotive computer programs is. Paying attention to the “Add-Ons” that come along with automotive computer programs is pivotal. And by “Add-Ons” we’re referring to how well your choice of programs integrates with other systems and tools that will lead to shop success.
As you’re searching for the program, or combination of programs, that will optimize your auto repair shop, keep in mind how each program will function with your business, how it’s hosted, and how well it integrates with other solutions.
Digital vehicle inspections (DVIs) have become a key component in the auto repair industry. Shops that use digital inspection tools save more time and sell more work than shops that use endless stacks of inspection sheets, clipboards, paperclips—you get the picture
Digital inspection software lets your team manage your inspection checklist and add technician findings and general comments along the way. With a more advanced DVI program, you can even attach photos and videos to your findings, easily draft estimates of proposed work, and quickly loop the customer in by emailing or texting the inspection at a click of a button.
With DVIs, your customers have the ability to see what’s going on with their car’s inspection whether they chose to wait in the lobby or go about their day. By implementing a transparent program into your shop’s inspection process, you are inherently building customer trust.
By going digital with your shop’s inspections, you can streamline the entire inspection and approval process by bridging gaps when it comes to communication from the tech to service writer, the service writer to the customer, and from the customer back to the service advisor.
Any shop owner that does repair work on a vehicle, or provides state inspections, will need a diagnostic system, whether it’s a stand alone tool or an automotive diagnostic software, also known as an On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) Scanner.
With car diagnostic tools, your shop can stay on top of your customers’ vehicle malfunctions. Think of the car diagnostic test as an analysis of why your customer’s check engine light is on—it provides you with answers that might otherwise take a long time to diagnose.
Car diagnostic software will read your customers’ vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostic system in numerical and graphic forms. Once the software reads the data, the data is then evaluated, and error codes will be generated. From there, the technicians can easily look into the error codes to uncover the issues. A lot of car diagnostic softwares not only generate the faulty codes but also analyze the findings and provide shop’s with a user-friendly guide that will help detect and understand the errors and problems found.
A car diagnostic scanner will check for issues with a vehicle’s:
When you’re selecting your shop’s car diagnostic solution, the most important thing is that it is convenient for you and your team to use. With a diagnostic tool, you can take the codes it generates for you, decode them, and add the findings to your shop’s DVI software. And if you use a more advanced DVI software, you can include photos and videos of the car diagnostic findings on the inspection report.
Inventory management software helps you keep track of your shop’s parts. More specifically, inventory software will track stock levels, parts usage, and parts warranties. More advanced inventory systems will even save and generate parts reports that include performance metrics related to your parts profits (for example, total parts value).
Staying on top of your shop’s inventory is crucial in the auto repair industry; and not having to do that with an excel spreadsheet and endless sheets of paper will help your team focus on getting customers back on the road safely and in a timely manner.
By selecting an inventory management software that integrates with or is built into a more advanced system, your shop has the ability to tie all moving parts together. You can see which parts are helping your shop make money, manage the amount of parts your shop needs to remain in-stock but not over-stock, and tie your shop’s inventory to your shop’s ROs.
Estimating software helps shops build dependable estimates so they can confidently send them to customers for approval. A good estimating software will sync with your parts ordering platform and labor guide to help your service advisors quickly write accurate prices for parts and labor on estimates.
More advanced estimating systems may give your team the ability to:
Payment and invoicing software is used by businesses to make collecting and processing payments easier, to protect themselves from chargebacks, and to provide customers with reasonable payment options.
Businesses have become more and more accommodating and adaptable when it comes to offering different payment options. In fact, if your auto shop offers a variety of quick and easy payment options, customers are more likely to return to your shop for future repair work.
By leveraging the right payment and invoicing solutions, you can streamline the process of getting paid, which in turn helps your shop reach your financial goals.
Marketing software helps businesses market their services, boost sales, and expand their customer base.
Here are some useful marketing functions that marketing software can let you do:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and marketing software are closely related, and there can often be a bit of overlap. The simplest way to differentiate marketing from customer relationship management is that marketing gets more customers to come to your shop while CRMs help you build a reputation with prospective customers and maintain the relationship you have with your current customers. CRM software is designed to track marketing, sales, and customer service to provide shop’s with a cohesive database of customer interactions.
CRM tools usually encompass marketing, sales, and customer service all in a single platform. Your shop can use a CRM system to gain a complete picture of customer relationships while simultaneously tracking customer interactions and sales, and building unique customer experiences.
Accounting software helps businesses manage expenses and payroll, reconcile their payments, and keep track of all finances, drastically improving the time it takes for shop owners and bookkeepers to stay on top of the shop’s cash flow.
Many high-performance auto repair shops have both accounting software and reporting software. Accounting software helps take care of books while reporting software helps shop owners make business decisions. And when it comes to reconciliation, reporting software and accounting software compliment one another, because if you notice something is off in your accounting software, you can go into your reporting software and quickly get to the root of any anomalies or missing financial data.
Reporting software is where your shop’s successes come together. It’s where you can visualize the growth of your shop through real-time data. By investing in reporting software, you will get to know your business on a deeper level so that you can make game-changing business decisions with confidence.
Most of the automotive computer programs we touched on above can be tracked through your shop’s reporting software, especially if you go with a shop management system that integrates with these programs or has some of these functions built into the system.
In the more advanced reporting software, you can see:
Shop management systems are automotive computer programs that help you manage and track multiple processes and business functions of your shop. Almost all shop management systems touch estimates, work management, and invoicing, but each system differs in terms of whether they are on-premise or cloud-hosted, and how they incorporate or tie into other business functions such as reporting, customer service, and marketing.
Shop owners, service writers, parts managers, and technicians can use a shop management system to manage day-to-day business operations. Not only that, but shop management software can also expedite service delivery when it comes to inspections, customer authorizations, and repair orders.
“A big part of supporting my team is having a shop management system that supports us.”
- Bryan Jewett, Owner of Casey’s Automotive
Over time, shop management systems have become more comprehensive, developing more and more features. For instance, a lot of modern shop management systems have inventory systems and DVIs built-in, making them incredibly convenient for shops who want to flow from one process to the next without leaving their trusted interface.
When shopping for a shop management system, you’ll want to think about what they do best, what they have built-in, and how they integrate with other solutions.
Of course, as a shop owner, you know what’s best for your shop. But it’s always good to be prepared for future goals and reaching those milestones you’ve always envisioned for your shop.
Now that you know the different types of automotive computer programs, you’ll want to ask yourself some bigger-scope questions:
How should programs I use at my shop work together and compliment one another?
Is there one solution that does it all, or should I use a bunch of separate solutions?
Is there one solution that does almost everything, and integrates with the other solutions I want to use so that I can truly customize my business and optimize business performance?
It’s highly likely your shop currently has several different programs in place that address different components of your shop. But there’s a reason you’re reading this blog. Chances are, you aren’t happy with the current mix of automotive computer programs you have, or maybe you’re wanting to simplify most of your stand alone programs to be built-in or integrated with one shop management system.
Finding the right mix of programs starts with a shop management system that allows room for integrations.
When you're researching shop management systems, you'll want to find a system that gives you flexibility in what you can and can’t do down the road. There’s a spectrum to shop management systems. Some systems hone in on the idea of “all-in-one,” but they don’t allow room for integrations because they assume what your shop needs. The other side of the spectrum are the systems that integrate and partner with industry-leading programs so you can find what your shop needs.
Now, think of those “all-in-one” shop management systems. You can choose to go with that one, but eventually one or some of its features won’t meet your standards. And because they are a one-stop-shop, you don’t have the benefit to add on an integration. If you were to meet those needs by investing in additional automotive computer programs, you’re going to run into inefficiencies due to the program’s inability to “talk to” your all-in-one system.
Tekmetric offers shop owners the best of both worlds. We offer comprehensive solutions for workflow, efficiency, and reporting, but we also work with some of the industries leading programs to create clean integrations that streamline each and every aspect of your business.
Our goal is to minimize errors, maximize efficiencies, centralize communication, and improve your shop’s business performance. Tekmetric makes that possible by letting all features within the system talk to one another.
Once a customer walks into your shop (or calls), you can use Tekmetric to:
Your team has the ability to add in unique customer profiles that can include the customer’s preferences. You can add all of your shop’s customers into Tekmetric. From there, each customers’ history, declined work, and vehicle information will be saved to their profile.
Tekmetric’s Job Board and Tech Board makes it easy to stay on top of ROs, your team’s bandwidth, and your shop’s overall efficiency. The Job Board will give service writers real-time updates of job’s status so they can easily update customers each step of the way. With the Tech Board, technicians can quickly update service writer’s without interruption, directly from their workstation.
Tekmetric makes it easy to create, build, edit, and assign ROs within minutes. When a service writer goes into Tekmetric to build an RO, they can enter the customer’s information, and if that customer has been in the shop previously, Tekmetric will auto populate all of the customer’s information, previous work, and vehicle information. If it’s a new customer, they can quickly select “Add New Customer” and enter in their details. Once ROs are created, it’ll become a “card” on the Job Board. Having the ability to glance at a screen and see real-time progress means your service writers can consistently and confidently update customers with accurate information with no time wasted.
Transparency is incredibly important to us, and we know it’s important to you, too. Just like transparency helps us build trust with our customers, it does the same for shop owners and their teams. Tekmetric has a built-in DVI feature that helps shop’s take care of shop management and inspections all in one system. With the DVI feature, technicians and service writers can create custom inspections, configure vehicle findings, and upload photos. From there, the service writer can share the inspection findings with customers by text or email, so they can walk customers through findings, build trust, and close more work.
Think to yourself how many repeat ROs your team does each week. Chances are you can think of at least three jobs that are created over and over. Rather than having to draft a new RO each time, your shop can create and manage custom canned jobs all in one location. Your team can also search canned jobs by the title of the job as well as create custom canned vendor sublets.
You don’t have to worry about buying a separate inventory automotive computer program with Tekmetric, because your shop will have a built-in inventory table that will cover all of your parts’ bases: parts ordered, parts in stock, parts above stock, and parts below stock. Having a long list of parts can get confusing without the right system; so Tekmetric cuts down the time by giving you the option to filter parts by type, by preferred vendor, and letting you search for parts by brand, part name, or part number.
The ultimate advantage to using a shop management system like Tekmetric is that you'll be able to manage your team and your customer experience all while tracking and analyzing reports in real time. Everything that happens in Tekmetric is automatically tracked to generate reports. By quickly glancing and gathering insights about your shop performance from anywhere, you can spend time outside of the shop without worrying about what’s going on in the shop. You can monitor your shop’s GP Percentage, GP Dollars, ARO, Car Count, Close Ratio, and more. Gain a crystal clear picture in one glance with Tekmetric’s Real-Time Reporting.
At Tekmetric, we make the complexities of shop management and business growth easy to navigate so that shop owners can spend more time innovating. We think about how repair orders and DVIs tie into the overall workflow and efficiency of your shop, and how your shop’s data and reports tie into the overall success and profitability of your business.
Tekmetric is cloud-based, so you can focus on your shop while you’re out of the shop. We want the shop owners that choose Tekmetric as their shop management system to let their imagination run wild, which is why we’ve formed a wide array of reliable and credible partnerships with other leaders in the auto repair industry.
Tekmetric provides shop owners with integration options and a clean user experience so that they can explore more opportunities. We partner with other leaders in our industry because we understand that shop owners already know and love some specific programs, and that having options is crucial to the innovation process.
We also want things to be simple and easy, which is why we work with industry-leading program providers to create clean integrations within Tekmetric.
And the list goes on.
Because we simplify the connection between multiple different systems, you have the ability to fine-tune what works best for your shop. And not only do we want our system to be simple, but we also enjoy and embrace the possibilities that arise when we work with other people. We simplify your shop management while providing you with more options to take your shop further than ever before.
Replace the need for multiple automotive computer programs by investing in an innovative shop management system that helps you run your shop on your own terms with built-in features and industry-leading integrations. Turn complexity into simplicity while still letting your imagination run wild.