Is Automotive Work Order Software a Replacement for Pen and Paper?
Digital software has the ability to enhance your auto shop in more ways than pen and paper can. Software can reach more customers and increase revenue in an efficient manner.
Old habits are hard to break, especially when it comes to the physicality of handwritten notes. A pen and a piece of paper can provide a better sense of security—they’re tangible and tactile. In our minds, we view paper as something we “own”, which makes it seem more reliable and easily obtainable.
But is pen and paper more reliable than digital tools? Although the trusty pen and paper method does have perks, there’s a time and a place for everything. Which leads us to paper’s modern day competitor: digital software. Switching paper out for a modern, digital format will enhance legibility, make archiving far easier than having file cabinets full of papers, and will strengthen collaboration across your team. Not to mention, you don’t run the risk of a fire or flood destroying your shop’s backed up data the way a natural disaster would with paper files and documents.
Now, this isn’t to say that digital software will replace every single piece of paper; however, software can successfully improve the efficiency of projects—especially when it comes to running an auto shop.
Let’s bring it back to the initial question: is automotive work order software a replacement for pen and paper? The rough answer is "yes," although there may be times where you still want to have paper as an option. But many pen and paper tasks can be replaced, and should, for better productivity and organization. Automotive work order software can astronomically enhance your shop’s productivity and organization in ways that traditional methods cannot.
In your personal life, paper can take precedence in whichever way you wish. But in your shop, opting in for a digital system instead of pen and paper has more pros than cons.
Let’s look at the data on why software has the ability to replace pen and pen and paper: A study conducted by Deloitte in 2019 found that 85% of all SMBs (small and medium-sized business owners) report that the digital tools they are using have helped their business in some way.
The study gathered 1,000 SMBs to take part in the survey. Here are the key findings:
Writing things down on a piece of paper definitely has its benefits, and shouldn’t be ridiculed as a form of notetaking. In fact, many individuals opt into pen and paper when they’re either in a hurry, or need to focus and want to prevent any distractions.
I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “Why is a digital software company telling me this? Aren’t they selling software?” Well, you’re not wrong, but our team at Tekmetric believes in highlighting all aspects of auto repair shops—and although modernizing your shop is an ideal way to make strides in the auto repair industry—traditional mediums shouldn’t be completely eradicated.
So, before we get into the benefits of software, let’s take a look at when handwritten notes make for an ideal option.
Ask yourself when was the last time you used a pen and a piece of paper to jot something down. There’s a good chance it was because of one of the following scenarios:
These reasons for taking handwritten notes can also be applicable in your shop. Whether you’re a technician, service writer, or shop owner, focus and efficiency are key components of your day.
Although you may have your habitual way of jotting down thoughts and reminders, where pen and paper are lacking is filling out work orders (or Repair Orders) in your shop. Manually writing down an RO for a customer, even on a templated piece of paper, will get in the way more than it helps.
That’s why creating room for a more secure, efficient, and clean form, like digital work order software, will enhance your shop in more ways than one.
A huge part of auto shop’s are the work orders created, under way, completed, and archived. Having the ability to not only make the process easier for your team, but also streamlining the work order life cycle is a shop innovation you won’t regret.
Think of how many moving parts there are in the work order process: technicians collaborate with the service writers on parts needed, repairs completed, and any additional findings that need to be addressed; service writers collaborate with both the techs on in-progress work orders and customers on where their car is at in the repair process; and customers collaborate with the service writers by having to sign off on repairs.
With pen and paper, the above steps require quite a bit of juggling. The technician might be trading sticky notes with the service writers, and service writers would need to get customers to sign off on estimates, invoices, and repair orders. At the end of just one repair, your team might have used four or five sheets of paper and a half-dozen sticky notes! With so many pieces of paper shuffling between hands, there is a lot of room for error and inefficiencies.
With automotive work order software your team can track and collaborate on the same platform. Every person is seeing the same information on their screen, so there is far less room for misinterpretation, error, or lost sheets of paper. Create repair orders, access notes, findings, part orders, and write up the customer with just a few clicks.
Keeping lists, memos, and notes organized can become a challenge, especially as work orders start to stack up. Organization is vital at any auto repair shop. Just think of how many projects go on in just a day’s time—from the creation of the work order, to the invoice payment.
Digital software eliminates the hassle of keeping paper and file cabinets organized. Alongside that, it gives your team the ability to cleanly and quickly enter the info they need to, when they need to—whether that’s the service writer entering the customer’s information or the tech entering their findings during the vehicle inspection.
Having work order software will boost the efficiency of your team by keeping everyone on top of tasks and organized throughout the entire process. A digital “filing” system will make it easier for you to sort, save, share, and find that work order information you’re looking for.
Digital documents are inherently more secure than paper documents If your shop only uses paper, the risk of information being lost or damaged is inherently higher.
Let’s say an unforeseen natural disaster impacted your shop—whether a fire, flood, tornado, etc.—your data, safely stored, will not be lost. Your shop’s data stream will be backed up with Tekmetric’s secure technology and cloud-based software. And you already know what would happen if your shop’s document system was managed primarily through physical materials.
Going digital will not only prevent data from getting lost or “stolen”, but will also—quite literally—save your shop’s finances, history, customer information, and team schedules from getting destroyed due to the unexpected.
Which leads us to another security aspect to highlight: confidentiality. Auto repair software, like Tekmeteric, ensures there is a level of security for all users—whether for your team or your shop’s customers. And while as a leader you hire trustworthy employees, there are times when team members need to be let go. If that’s the case, with Tekmetric you can customize permissions to prevent them from taking any personal info from customers and/or the shop.
Think to yourself what all goes into creating a work order: the work order number, the description, the customer’s information, the created/completed dates, the vehicle’s history, customer notes, and so on. How long would it take you to write down a work order with all of that required information?
Most people on average type faster than they write with a pen. According to a study comparing typing vs. handwriting, researchers found that those who participated had a typing speed of at least five words per minute faster than writing by hand.
In addition to typing speed, the fact that digital software can pull information from reports and customer notes means a work order that would take 45 minutes to fill out by hand only takes about 10 minutes to fill out with software.
One thing that makes hand-written notes so unique is that everyone's handwriting is different. Now, while your unique handwriting might add a great personal touch to a letter or card, it might not be best suited for situations where legibility is super important—like on an estimate or work memo. And let's face it: not everyone has the cleanest handwriting.
Yes, handwritten notes have situational advantages, but an auto shop is usually not the place for that. You’ll have to make copies, the technician’s notes might be difficult for people to read, and if any spelling errors or misreading occurs, the possibility of mistakes—whether with a customer’s car, or the shop’s operations—is unfortunately heightened.
What if the service writer was in a hurry writing down a customer’s service issues, and the tech misinterpreted what was jotted down? Imagine how upset a customer would be if their vehicle started acting up again right after leaving the shop. With automotive work order software you never have to worry about illegible handwriting or chicken scratch getting in the way of a job well done.
Service writers can type down the customer’s issues, assign the RO to a tech, and the technicians—simply using a smartphone, tablet, or computer—can type out their findings, with detailed photos and videos showing customers exactly what is wrong.
Papers take more time to store, find, and recall. Sure, you can just start a new sheet of paper, but then you have duplicate information with various sheets of paper lying around. And with pen and paper, you can only look at one at a time, which isn’t very manageable in the auto repair industry.
With digital software, you can look at everything, all at once. Whether it’s pulling up one specific work order, populating all current work orders, or viewing your shop’s whole month calendar. Having the ability to quickly and instantaneously pencil in appointments is a scheduling must when you have five work orders going on at any one time.
Service writers: let’s say you have a walk-in at the shop. Having the ability to quickly enter their info—or if they were a customer in the past, Tekmetric will automatically populate it in the future—is the ideal scenario for both you and the customer.
Work order software will ramp up that efficiency and help you grow your business exponentially.
Think of how you’re viewing this blog: you’re either reading it from your phone, laptop, or tablet. The benefit of this being online rather than handwritten or face-to-face is that it’s 1) easy to find, 2) takes up no space, and 3) can be easily shared with other shop owners. Accessing it digitally enhances the experience.
Just as you might be clicking one of the links embedded in the article, you can also click from one Tekmetric feature to the next. From the Job Board, to the shop’s inventory, to the BG canned jobs integration—it’s all just a click away.
We know, we know, ridding paper entirely from your life is impossible. But when it comes to the auto repair industry, automotive work order software will enhance your shop’s ability to collaborate effectively, and communicate efficiently. Curious how Tekmetric will impact your shop? Schedule a live demo to see firsthand what our software is capable of, without wasting paper.