Originally from Detroit, Karl Roekle always dreamed of moving to the countryside. After ten years of working as a prototype engineer for the Ford Motor Company, he moved with his wife and two daughters to Jackson, Michigan. Karl started Ultimate Auto Repair in 2005 to provide for his family where he was fixing vehicles for the amazing people of Jackson out of a barn on his property. He was the sole owner, technician, and service writer
Business picked up over the years, and Karl was able to assemble a small team and build his own on-premise shop management system. In 2010, he decided to move Ultimate Auto Repair to a larger space two miles from his house. He was able to employ more people but eventually hit a growth cap.
After switching to Tekmetric, Karl was able to accelerate over the hump and more than double his business. Today, they’re still growing every month.
With my old system, I was stuck. Each technician would have five or six clipboards, and they'd have to shuffle and figure out what was authorized and what wasn't. To find out anything, I had to do it manually. It's no fun at the end of the month trying to count how many cars and work orders we did.
There was no way that we were going to make it any further without a lot of changes.
I was afraid to make the change. I thought, "Tekmetric has a lot of good stuff going, but I'm not sure". And then everything came to a head. My laptop crashed. I couldn't get into the old program. We had been talking about making the change, so I grabbed my service writer and said, "We're making the change right now". It was like ripping off the band-aid.
By day three, I said to my team "Hey guys. I'm sorry about the stress". And they said, "Stress? Are you kidding me? This is way better! We don't have to look for a work order on the wall!" They took to it right away.
The immediate result was that everybody could instantly see with a click what everyone else was talking about. The technician could put his notes in there: what he saw and what he didn't see. It's so nice for the service writer to be able to see the customer's notes and the technician’s notes. The customer came in with this complaint. We addressed it. This is the problem. The technician also found this. And everybody can see that live, instantly.
I was welded to the place without Tekmetric. If I wasn't there, nobody knew what to do. Now, they know.
You can't run a million dollar shop off of one guy having to be there. At the end of the day, the world runs on math. If you don't know what the math is, you don't know what you're doing; you have no clue whether you made money or you lost money. You're just throwing quotes out there and hoping things are there.
But with Tekmetric, I can see in realtime what my markup is, what it's going to be, and what it should be. I can give my service writers a bottom dollar: what they need to sell it for. I can tell them how much they need to discount for, and they can quickly see all that right in Tekmetric. I can set up matrices, even labor matrixes now, which is crazy to me!
I call it their 'guard rail'. They know how high they can go and how low they can go to make a sale. At some point, if you don't have a technician working, and that's their job for the day, and if you don't sell that job, they’re not going to be working. That service writer needs to know how low they can go to make that sale.
Tekmetric gives me the freedom to leave for days at a time and everything keeps running. It has basically allowed me to duplicate myself, to show the guys: this is the system, and these are the steps you need to take. I can show the guys what to do, and they can replicate it.
Before, vacations were almost impossible. Now, I can leave, and I know the shop will keep running. With Tekmetric, it's all right there. My team has everything they need.
As a business owner, Tekmetric helps me make quick decisions, which is what it's all about. I have to be able to know where I’m at and where I’m going to project it. And then we need to be able to operate with consistency, too. Because when the customer comes back the second time, we need to be able to quote it the same. There's so much background information in there that I don't know how I'd run anything over $500,000 without Tekmetric.
We're moving into commercial diesel. In Jackson, there are a lot of general contractors, plumbers, and electricians. I'm cleaning out the spare building on my property and putting in four bays, so we can concentrate on commercial diesel customers over there and get their trucks in and out quickly. It's awesome because I can set that up in Tekmetric as its own repair shop. I can track the efficiency of service writers and technicians in each building.
Growing my business allows me to get people good jobs - jobs that weren't necessarily available to me. The possibilities are limitless.
My daughters have been helping around the shop, too. My 21-year-old comes in after hours and spends three to five hours a week cleaning the shop and does interior details. She started her own cleaning business, and she cleans houses.
My youngest is our Quality Control. She QCs all the cars when we're done. And she wants to be a service writer, so we're training her to be a service writer. She works with me every day. It's pretty awesome. She likes accounting, and she actually does our end-of-day reporting, so she loves Tekmetric. She can jump in there and go through and close out all the cars and make sure they're all paid for. She gives me the final count.
I'm happy that I can teach her a trade where she can make some money, whether she’s working at Ultimate Auto Repair or another shop.
And both kids made the dean’s list this semester! So I’m proud of that, too.
For more information about Ultimate Auto Repair, visit ultimateautorepairmi.com