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Shop management software in a 2018 world


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So I started a new venture and I need some new shop management software. I have a new venture where I have moved to a lower volume, high margin operation where we offer primarily concierge service to high end customers with high end vehicles. As such my current needs are very mobile, I've been doing some research, but I though I'd post up here for some additional input. What I need is an entirely mobile platform. This sticks me with SAAS based products which is fine. Finally mobile data is plentiful in all the areas I operate in. Many of the web based services out there are still designed for desktop use, and although they are mobile in a sense, they are not truly do business anywhere solutions. I need to be able to book appointments, see service history, attachments to ROs (like photos), check recommendations, start new ROs with customer complaints, accept signatures all from a mobile phone. I could live with an iPad if needed, but the phone is most ideal.

The software must have what are now a days standard features (or should be)

  1. Scheduling app with integration to previous recommendations/estimates in the booking interface
    1. This should also have some CRM features such as customer reminder notifications, would be great to have multiple contacts notified as often there is a groundskeeper or administrative assistant that we are dealing with as well
  2. RO management that includes technician notes, photos attachments, service recommendations and job status (linked to procurement management when parts need ordering)
  3. Ability to link service recommendations to estimates and easily turn them into new ROs  
  4. Inventory management,
    1. supply chain integration is nice, procurement management for tracking when and where all the parts are coming from
  5. VIN or Plate scanning via mobile camera to start new ROs or estimates with your now common carfax VIN lookup and service history

Basically I need all the points of interaction with the customer to be completely mobile, they will not happen in the shop (usually), the RO processing itself can/will happen on a larger device such as desktop or tablet in the shop.

Is anyone working with a company that has this level of mobility yet? My research shows that many of the companies that have long been players in this industry are very slow to adopt this new way of thinking, there are a lot of new names out there though!

 

While I'm thinking about next level software, the software companies that know how be be ahead of the curve will soon start integrating calibration data VIA J2534 attached to the vehicle record and cross link to manufacturer databases for recommended updates. This will become increasingly important as more and more vehicles integrate complex self driving, in car entertainment and safety features that will require updating. Automatically notify technician of TSBs related to a vehicle and include other data integration features like this.

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Shop Boss and Shop Ware sound like good fits. They are both going under a lot of improvements at this time, however. Bolt on has toyed around with some mobile stuff, but I'm not familiar with it. I don't think it would be entirely what you're looking for though.

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Thanks for the input, I was looking at ShopWare, Shop Boss looks good too, I will likely demo them both as they both look like they could fit me needs and are similarly priced. Has anyone tried ShiftMobility Shoplite? I emailed about a demo, the feature set looks good.

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We're on MaxxTraxx Pro right now and it's lacking the mobility you're looking for.  Because of that I've been checking into other options.  Last week we pulled the trigger on Shop Boss and in the demo it looked great but I found it wasn't quite ready for prime time once we started really using it for day to day so we're back to MT for the moment.  We don't need the mobile in the way you do but everything else we use is cloud based and not being tied to one work station is just the way to go these days.  I'll be interested to see what you find.

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Well after a few days of testing I've ruled out a few and started with a few more. HerbC is right, Shop boss is not ready for production. Lots of things in that software that just don't work right. Its mobile capable but not a well laid out design. The jury is still out on shop-ware. The workflow is very different, I'm not sure if I like it, it works mobile but doesn't display on a phone great.

I've started looking at a few new platforms, some of which look promising. For those who are following this thread I'll post a list of what I've looked at.

Shop-ware - Odd workflow haven't ruled it out yet

Shop-Boss - Software is buggy, doesn't display well on all devices. Schedule doesn't really work. Not ready for production environment. If they keep developing it this might be worth a look later on.

Profitboost - I originally kind of liked this software, pretty well laid out, lots of functionality but missing some key features like inventory tracking. Rep told me no shop keeps inventory anymore 🙄 also no real way to track recommendations, which is really where the value comes in up-selling your services.

Autorepaircloud - The jury is out here still but this is a very promising piece of software. Its missing some key features but the development team is very open to suggestions and update often. With some good input from guys like us I think this could be the winner but its just not there yet. Probably months out, maybe more but its got real promise. The inspection program they have is pretty great, although it could be a little better. Lots of data integration although all of it doesn't always work. Again, its promising

Omnique - Just getting my feet wet with this one, will report back shortly, I know a few people on this forum use it, maybe they can chime in as well.

workshop shoftware - Australian based company and as such the integrations are built for the AU market. Doesn't really work in the US, software looks decent though although I didn't get to far with it due to the obvious incompatibilities

ShiftMobility Shoplite - Haven't started testing this one yet, will do soon though

 

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That's what I found with ShopBoss.  If everything worked the way it should and they fixed some of the work flows I think it has potential.  Similar to your experience with Profitboost they told me there was no need to track POs for parts that just came in for a single job because it wasn't "inventory".  Well I still need to know what's on order and what isn't so that was a little odd.

I did also take a look at ShopWare but didn't have time to really give it an honest try.  First impression for me was the same though.  The workflow was a little odd.

Glad it's not just me.  Sometimes I think I might miss something good trying to force it work my way instead of being a little flexible and learning to use the software.

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9 minutes ago, HCCPerformance said:

I just looked at the ShopBoss software myself. I like the features. To those of you who say it's "buggy," can you shed some insight? Did you communicate this with ShopBoss? If so, what was their position?

For me it was just a death by a thousands cuts type thing.  It seemed like every time I used it I wrote down 10 things that either didn't work or that weren't very intuitive.  Just messing with the demo it looked good but when I signed up and started to try and use it for a full job start to finish the flaws were quick to show.  It's been a few weeks now and I threw out the notes but here was one of lists I emailed them and what they responded with.  Actually by phone later when I called because I didn't get response to the email.  This was just one of several calls with similar results for other little issues.

1.  When creating a quote the customer's info gets pulled in but not their e-mail address so I have to close the quote to go to the customer file and get the address to send the quote.  Then there's no where to add a message to the quote. -A- We know the quote system isn't fully functional and are working on it.
2.  When building a quote our stock parts aren't being included in the search so we end up duplicating parts. -A- No real answer
3.  I can't find anywhere to make changes to what is shown on quotes or parts sales invoices (ie - turn off part numbers, show discounts etc) -A- Again, quotes aren't fully functional yet.
4.  When I get an e-signature I get two emails telling me it was signed but that doesn't change anything in the system to accepted.  It says it will show in the printed history on the invoice but I don't see a printed history on the invoice. -A- You just have to go in and manually update the status.  Getting the approval via email changes nothing in the system.
5.  Honestly the quote system seems unusable as it is so I end up creating ROs for estimates but there seems to be no way to delete or void out an RO so they are stuck in my WIP screen even if they are declined. -A- Yeah most people just use the R/O for quotes.  They can be deleted though. (I tried that and they didn't go away.  Also left a gap in the R/O numbering)
 
As I noted above I also had trouble with the PO system since adding the parts to an R/O didn't actually create a PO or any other notification that there were parts that needed to be ordered for the job.  They said if it was a job specific part and didn't need to be inventoried there was no need to mess with the PO system.  I didn't really see any difference when I set them to Inventory Part with 0 for low stock.  MaxxTraxx I just set everything as inventory and when I close an R/O it yells at me to order parts in until I tell it to quit or get the parts here.  If it's a really oddball, never to be used again part I can just create a quick part and it doesn't save it anywhere but that's rare.
 
Basically for a custom shop like ours there was just too many little things that didn't work.  It may be great if you do the same type of work over and over and have the stock parts on the shelf or if you don't do a lot of custom quoting for people.  Just my experience.  MaxxTraxx is still flawed for what we do also but it's much more customizable.  Unfortunately it is tied to the PC workstation and isn't cloud based which is why I have been looking at others to begin with.
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HerbC,

 

Thank you for taking the time to do this. I have Service Shop. It's really, really plain, but at the time, we needed to be able to "clock" onto a ticket and keep time. I couldn't find another software that did it. It's very flexible as you have to customize every entry, but lacks the CCC format which I prefer.  We still work on custom/restoration, but our street work now accounts for 60% of our work flow. I guess I'll just have to keep plugging along with SS until I hear better reviews on other software. 

 

Tim 

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Does anyone know of any non subscription services? Trying to knock down those monthly bills. I use alldata manage right now and I love a lot of the features, so would be reluctant to move away, but if I can knock another $105 off the monthly bills it might be worth it. Things that are most important to me are the ability to make generic jobs like oil changes that can be added with a click or two, and the ability to set up a proper parts matrix. Also writing and saving estimates or quotes that can then later be turned into R.O.'s if sold. Finally, I need to be able to see the monthly sales break down so I can do my sales tax ect.

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HerbC, in ShopBoss if you click “No Approval” in upper right corner and close RO, it will go away. We don’t use the estimate feature much, mostly make estimates as an RO since the vehicle is at shop anyway. It’s easy to decline the individual jobs if needed or click no approval for whole vehicle if every job was declined. Same goes for phone estimate, but I will delete it after about 30 days.

 

ShopBoss is buggy depending on the browser used. Use google chrome on PC and everything should be ok. I sometimes use SB on my iPad and it doesn’t work as well as a PC.

 

We used AllData Manage for 5 years and switched over to ShopBoss about 8 months ago. For me, it was the easiest to learn out of the ones I demo’ed.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

 

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Yes, they showed me how to do that but it didn't always go away for some reason.  I do use Chrome too.  We do a lot of quotes without ever seeing the vehicles since we're dealing with lift kits and stuff like that rather than repair work.

I think it could work fine for most situations like you said but for our custom setup (and I think the OP's) it may not be the best route.  Glad it's working for you.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/11/2017 at 8:52 AM, [email protected] said:

Give Lankar a test drive. They seemed to have a solid system but not sure about Mobile features. I remember I was very close to pulling the trigger but went with Mitchell for now. 

Lankar is an installed software product, not SAAS, cloud based service, so it can not handle a work anywhere operation. This takes it off my evaluation list. Might do fine for a basic single site shop location but that's not my operation.

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Sorry for the lack of updates. The Holidays, a six month old and getting this new shop running well has been a bear. That will get easier when I finally figure out some software.

Autorepaircloud - This is a no go for now, there are just to many things that make it not a viable candidate. They are working to much from the customer side. they expect the customer to have an app that connects them to the shop. This is a great concept, but unfortunately a lot of parts of the software REQUIRE the customer to interact though the app, which doesn't work for my shop. I can't imagine it would work for anyone's shop.

The bigger issue than the app though is the way they manage data. The customer is indexed by the phone number, which you can not change. Furthermore, if another shop using their software has entered that phone number already the software will not let you use it unless the customer approve going to your shop instead though the app!!!!! This is simply not how business operates, and their lack of understanding that is my biggest concern. The software is constantly developing though so they might get these things straightened out. It works well on a tablet and seems promising but its just to green to bet your business on.

 

I've got a few demos scheduled this week so hopefully I'll have more feedback soon, and maybe find my solution!!!

 

Note, I updated the original post with my new software requirements

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scratch that, this forum doesn't let you update posts, here is my current requirement list

 

  1. Scheduling app with integration to previous recommendations/estimates, this is best done directly from the booking interface
    1. This should also have some CRM features such as customer reminder notifications, would be great to have multiple contacts notified as often there is a groundskeeper or administrative assistant that we are dealing with as well
  2. RO management that includes technician notes, photos attachments, service recommendations and job status (linked to procurement management when parts need ordering)
  3. Walk through process for receiving a vehicle, including recording the customer compliant, accepting a signature. (required in NYS)
  4. System for recording authorizations of additional work needed, include phone authorization with timestamp or signature recording (required in NYS)
  5. Ability to link service recommendations to estimates and easily turn them into new ROs  
  6. Inventory management. Should allow receiving of inventory as many items in a list (receive an entire shipment from a vendor). Also should allow ad hoc inventory entries during RO writing, this must include the cost, vendor and vendor invoice number. This makes it a one step process when entering items that are ordered for a specific job.
    1. supply chain integration is nice, procurement management for tracking when and where all the parts are coming from
  7. VIN or Plate scanning via mobile camera to start new ROs or estimates with your now common carfax VIN lookup and service history - VIN lookup by plate number is a MUST
  8. Customize-able vehicle inspection checklist -- This is technically not required but is really nice to have, some software platforms have done this really nicely.
  9. Payment integration, including popular payment gateways - we use Quickbooks goPayment  -- not required but nice to have
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i signed up for the trial on autorepaircloud, and there are a lot of little things that annoy me too

the phone number thing you mentioned sounds frustrating, think it is a no go for me as well
looking forward to what your other reviews and i appreciate your coming back and updating us with your reviews
thanks

 

Edited by RicoRepair
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all - we're conducting preliminary research to help influence our product roadmap for a SaaS shop management platform that handles scheduling, payments/billing, and customer notes. if anyone has 10-15 minutes to spare in the next week, i'd love to connect and (i) hear about your challenges in running your business today (ii) what key functionalities will help you grow your business/run it more effectively? We're excited about our new platform, but would like some help in tailoring it to your needs. Any help you can provide would be much appreciated. 

thanks!

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Hi all - we're conducting preliminary research to help influence our product roadmap for a SaaS shop management platform that handles scheduling, payments/billing, and customer notes. if anyone has 10-15 minutes to spare in the next week, i'd love to connect and (i) hear about your challenges in running your business today (ii) what key functionalities will help you grow your business/run it more effectively? We're excited about our new platform, but would like some help in tailoring it to your needs. Any help you can provide would be much appreciated. 
thanks!
I would be interested in hearing what you have to say, 608-632-3544 we are a diesel repair and performance shop.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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