I'm Ricardo from Complete Auto Reports. You may have heard about the shop management software that we made at a shop in Linden NJ.
We've been really busy over the last year trying to refine the process at a shop through the software. We have come up with something we think that people can and will benefit from. We want to start with smaller auto repair facilities who are looking for something to transition out of paper and pen, as well as word documents and/or excel spreadsheets.
We've taken our software and made a free package that allows the following from any device with a updated and functional browser:
Take appointments from your customers Digital Vehicle Inspections - Included in every service request and sent to each customer if performed Workflow - Pending, Under Process, Awaiting Approval, Approval Completed, Work In Progress, Completed Ratings - Customers can communicate ratings directly to you Messages - You can communicate with customers through the platform Customer App - All service history available, can schedule appointments with the app, transfer vehicle records to new owners Sales Reports 100% mobile - Works on everything from your 5inch iPhone to your desktop.
You can presently upload all of your customer information: name, address, phone numbers, email.
Paid for versions offer parts ordering through PartsTech.com and Employeement modules that track employee time on jobs.
Are there members here who are interested in trying the free platform to see if it's a fit for their business? Anyone interested in the paid for versions, can also get 60 days of free use and discounted rates available from our SEMA promotions.
Our 3 plans can be broken down into these simple differences: Free: No inventory, no online parts ordering through PartsTech, only one photo/video per service request, one login, no employee management $50 per month (also have yearly options to save $): Includes online parts ordering through PartsTech and includes inventory, one login, no employee management $100 per month (also have yearly options to save $): includes everything with 5 logins to access the system. We often get asked, "What use can a bigger shop possibly get from the free plan?"
With the free plan, you can take appointments digitally from your customers and then upload a copy of their receipt from your existing system to their profile in CAR. Reducing paper waste and creating a digital record for your customer to always have. You can also use the free plan to send your customers a video or photo of the services you are performing, complete with billing the customer through the free plan at the end of the service. These are all features that you pay for with add on systems, they are all available for free with us as you learn to adapt to smarter, more efficient technology.
The data you enter is yours, we do not have any agreements presently to share it with anyone and we certainly will never be sharing any personally identifying information with anyone. Majority of the data we are interested in is to build better features to serve you better.
Should you ever decide you no longer want to use our platform, your account will be available to you for free for one year at minimum. In addition to that, we can and will provide you a complete data dump of all of your records within 72 hours of the request. These companies that make it impossible to recover YOUR data is the reason for our open policy. We want everyone to change their practices and we're leading by example.
If you decide to cancel your subscription for any reason, all of your data can and will be exported and delivered to you via a USB stick you provide or through email in the way of an Excel file(s). Additionally, you can access ALL OF YOUR information on our server for one year without any interference from anyone at CAR. Most of you may not know, but I actually own a shop and if it's one thing I can not stand behind, it's these companies getting access to all of our information for secretive reasons or keeping us from having the very data that belongs to us in the first place. You will never encounter this experience with us.
Hey everyone. I'm planning on opening in about 3 weeks and am looking for a credit card processing company. Are there any geared for our type of business? Does anyone recommend Intuit for it's ease of integration with Quickbooks? I'll be doing around $10,000 a month in CC payments averaging $200.00 per RO. Payments are predominately Visa or Mastercard swiped. A very small percentage of Amex, Discover or over the phone. If there is a company name that a lot of you experienced members would recommend, I would like to hear it.
I was recently having a conversation over lunch with a college buddy of mine who has a PhD in computer science and owns a web development company we were casually talking about business etc and started discussing websites and ROI. This got me thinking about my shops site and how efficient we are in tracking the ROI. We currently use Autoshop solutions (were with them before he started the web company but plan on switching) and pay about $190 a month in web maintenance fees with includes updates, hosting and a portal to login to track views etc but it made me start wondering if I really knew the true ROI of my website. Every month I look at the numbers and the reports and see bounce rate, time per page etc but never really have sat to think what that really means and if my website is serving its purpose (to capture the attention of and bring in new customers). On top of that we have our adwords budget and all in all I feel like we are just throwing money out there hoping it will stick and assuming that the site is making us money.
So my question is how is everyone else tracking the ROI of their website?
Also, if you don't mind my asking, what is the typical amount (or rough estimate) you pay monthly for web maintenance (if you have it) and do you feel like you are getting your money's worth from your hosting company? My buddy has offered me an opportunity to come into his business (I have a background in IT as well) and to offer some insight in capturing some business from the automotive industry but I just wanted to get a feel for the problems which you guys are facing today to see if I am the only one with these questions and issues or if this could be an industry issue worth pursuing.
By Mail Shark
Tracking the return on your auto repair shop’s direct mail marketing can be a challenge. One tool that can give you a tremendous amount of transparency into your direct mail ROI and that I recommend almost 100% of the time is call tracking.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what call tracking is and how it works, it involves putting a unique phone number on your direct mail that isn’t used anywhere else. When someone calls the number, it forwards immediately and seamlessly to your main phone line. This gives you the ability to track and record all phone calls from this special number, in turn giving you some transparency into how your direct mail marketing is performing.
There are of course many other nuances, capabilities, and uses for call tracking that you can learn about from companies like CallRail or Conversa, just to name a few.
That said, it’s critical you understand call tracking is NOT the be-all end-all when it comes to determining how well your direct mail marketing is working. If this were the case, you’d have to assume that 100% of every new repair order you get calls directly from your mailer. However, we all know this will never be the case. Here are a few reasons why.
Your Online Presence
Before they consider using you repair shop, many prospects will go online to check out your website. If a customer lands on your website – assuming you aren’t using a PURL (Personalized URL), which is almost never the case with most auto repair shops – they do their research and then call your shop from the phone number on your website. In this situation, you immediately lose insight on how they heard about you.
Customers are also reading your online reviews, whether on social media or review sites. Sites like Demandforce, SureCritic, Carfax, Repair Pal, Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc. all have your shop’s contact details, including your phone number. Any call from customers who used these sites removes transparency on how they heard about you.
Our auto repair shop clients consistently tell us customers will just stop by their shop with their direct mail piece in hand. I’m not just talking about quick lube shops that are based on walk-in traffic. I’m talking about general and specialty auto repair shops. It’s great when customers have your mailer with them, because you can attribute these customers to your direct mail marketing. However, this won’t be reflected in your call tracking, which is another reason call tracking isn’t the be-all end-all when determining ROI.
Online Appointment Scheduling
More and more auto repair shops are offering online appointment scheduling. We like to position these shops as being easy to work with, and part of that is promoting their online appointment scheduling. We include verbiage on our direct mail pieces to inform customers they can conveniently schedule online, and most times we accompany this with a QR code that brings them directly to the appointment scheduling page.
This is similar to my first point regarding your online presence and website. However, I also want to point out this specific example because in these cases, we’re actively pushing people to go online to schedule their repair or maintenance service, thus losing transparency from call tracking.
All that said, call tracking is an effective tool that gives you a lot of transparency into your direct mail marketing ROI. However, you should also be running matchback reports that compare new repair orders during (and in the trailing months following your campaign) to your direct mail list. This helps you identify customers who were missed on call tracking or by your service advisor. You can then use your call tracking data in conjunction with your matchback reporting to get a clearer picture of your direct mail ROI.
If you’re using EDDM® Retail or EDDM® BMEU, you won’t be able to execute matchback reporting because there’s no mailing list to compare your repair orders with.
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]
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By Joe Marconi
Got your attention? Good! Before I start, let’s get something out of the way. Does technician aptitude or attitude affect the productivity of your shop? Absolutely. But this is the exception, not the rule. If your overall production levels are low, that is the sole responsibility of management. Let’s look at a few reasons for low production levels.
The first area I want to address is billing. Many hours of labor go unbilled due to not understanding how to charge. This area is most prevalent with testing and inspecting. If your technicians are handed a work order, with no direction and not a clear process of what to do, or when to stop and ask for labor testing fees, there will be a ton of wasted labor hours, never to be recovered again.
Next is training. Service advisor and technical training is a key component to high production levels. But let’s not forget in-house training. All policies and procedures must be reviewed often and refined if needed. Your team must follow a process. With no road map, labor dollars are lost. By the way, if you don’t have procedures in place, you need to make this top priority. Every successful organization has a detailed set of workflow guidelines.
Let’s look at shop layout. How organized is your shop? Are shop tools and equipment readily accessible? Or do techs tend to wander around looking for the shop scanner or TPMS reset tool. Are stock items such as wiper blades and oil filters fully stocked and cataloged properly? Do technicians have separate access to technical information? Or are techs waiting to use the same computer station? Again, all these things kill labor production, which kills labor dollars.
Next up is scheduling. There should be a structured approach to scheduling where the day is balanced with enough opportunity to make profitable sales. Have a process where vehicle history is reviewed before the customer arrives. Any previous service recommendations or notes is any opportunity to make a sale. But the key ingredient is in preparation. A customer that’s scheduled for an oil change may have forgotten that he or she received a recommendation for tires. Informing the customer at the time of scheduling and preparing for the work ahead of time, greatly improves productivity and overall efficiency.
Another problem area is with service advisors and their workload. The service advisor, in many situations, handles the front counter, the phone, scheduling, helps with dispatch, part procurement and sales. All these tasks are critical to the daily operations. However, nothing happens in the shop until a sale is made. You need to look at your service staff. Are estimates getting processed quickly and upsells getting back to the technicians in a timely manner? If not, this is another area where production suffers. Carefully analyze your staff and run the numbers. More estimates processed means more sales and higher profits. Adding a service advisor or an assistant may be the missing link in a shop’s production problem.
Knowing your numbers is another key component to attaining high production levels. I will refrain from giving you benchmark numbers, since all businesses models are different. With that said, you need to determine your breakeven and establish your labor goal for the week. Then knowing your labor goal, you need to calculate how many labor hours you need per technician. Then, you need to communicate this number to each technician. Having clear expectations and knowing the goals of one’s position is essential for hitting production goals.
With regard to the technician’s responsibility, let’s remember one important fact; the technician has control over his or her efficiency. That’s it. If you dispatch a four-hour ticket to a tech, the ability of the tech to meet or beat that time depends on the technician’s skill, experience and training.
There are a lot of other factors that influence production, such as the right pay plan and hiring the right people. But perhaps the most important influence is leadership. The shop owner or manager must study and look at the entire operations of the shop. Productivity goals must be established and then a system of monitoring production must be put into place. This includes sales goals, as well. Service advisors and technicians must get continuous feedback on their progress. Improvements in sales and in production, no matter how small, must be celebrated.
The bottom line is this: If you’re not happy with your production level, you need to look at every aspect of your company that influences production. Improvements in key areas put technicians in a position to win. When they win, so do you.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on March 1st, 2019
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By Joe Marconi
Not every shop pays flat rat; for many reasons. So, many techs are on hourly pay. There is nothing wrong with hourly pay, as long as you have an incentive program in place that promotes high production levels to avoid complacency. For hourly paid employees I strongly urge you to have a pay plan that rewards production levels on a sliding scale.
As a business coach, I have seen too many times shops with low production levels and high tech payroll due to overtime pay. Overtime pay must not be used to get the jobs done with no regard to labor production. Limit overtime and create a strategy that increases production and rewards techs with production bonuses. By the way, there are many ways to incentivize techs, it's not all about money.
Overtime without high levels of production will eat into profits and if not controlled, with kill your business.
If your shop is an hourly paid shop, what incentives do you have in place to maintain production levels?
By Joe Marconi
Shop production is a hot topic these days. High production results in higher sales and profits. But there seems to be so many obstacles to overcome to achieve high production levels.
I was discussing production with a few shop owners, and one shop owner mentioned that he recently hired a shop foreman; an “A” tech in his early 50’s. The foreman uses his knowledge and skills to organize the work flow. For younger techs, it’s even more important that they know how to work and keep productive.
What are your thoughts? Does anyone else have a foreman or similar position? And how does this role affect production?
By Joe Marconi
According to a Gallup poll, 99 out of 100 people say they want a more positive environment at work. The study also says that employees are more productive when they are around positive people. If you stop and think about it, this speaks volumes. A positive workplace produces happier employees, which ultimately improves shop production. And one of the best ways to promote a more positive workplace is with praise and recognition.
Everyone wants to be recognized for the work they do and want to know that what they do matters to the overall success of the shop. Without enough praise and recognition, employees become disengaged. When this happens, morale will suffer, and so will your business. Poor morale affects every aspect of your business, including customer service.
As a shop owner, I know how difficult it is to run a repair shop. You spend so much time handling issues and problems. Sometimes it's hard to put aside the issues and find the good that's around you. But the reality is that if you want a more productive and profitable business, you need to have positive work environment. And that begins with hiring the right people, and then making sure that employees receive adequate praise when warranted and recognition for a job well done.