Hi, Natalie here. You have a great selection of tools on hand that will cover every job a customer will bring into your shop. Whether it’s Mac Tools, Snap-on, OTC, or Wright, the right tool for the job is priceless.
The tools we’re talking about in this post are for finances, but the same strategy holds true. If you’re planning to do your own bookkeeping, the right tool for your financial job is also priceless. They can take what may appear to be a daunting challenge and save you a ton of time. You’ll be back to running your shop before you know it.
Stick around until the end and I’ll outline what’s in my bookkeeping toolbox. Here is an overview with some suggestions on how to choose great financial tools
Here are the top 10 categories:
1. Accounting Software
QuickBooks has been the go-to software for accounting for decades. There are online tools that may be a better option for you. The most popular choice is Xero and the numbers of small business owners that are using Xero is increasing. Compare several and pick the one that is both robust and flexible.
According to the 2015 edition of the Business News Daily’s Buyer’s Guide here are the features you should look for:
Client/Vendor Contact Management
Billing and Recurring Payments Automation
Quote and Estimate Creation
Integration with Programs Such as Point-Of-Sale Software, Credit Card
Processing, and Google Apps
2. Budgeting Tools
Creating a budget is the cornerstone of your shop’s financial success. Staying on task within your budget is equally as important. If your accounting software has this feature, you may already have the proper tool to create that budget. If your preference is a tool dedicated to this task, a recommendation is PlanGuru.
3. Payroll Management System
Payroll management can occupy so much of your time and mistakes are easy to make. Look for tools that streamline the payroll process and cut costly errors. A tool that integrates with your other tools is another feature to look for. Some tools like SurePayroll can calculate and pay payroll taxes. Simple. A couple of other tool suggestions are ZenPayroll and ADP. These combine payroll and HR functions in one.
4. Agile Billing
Speed and flexibility in your billing process means quicker cash flow back to you. With a tools like FreshBooks or Bill.com the billing process will be quicker and give your customers an easy experience. Improving the billing process will serve you and your customers better and shorten delays in receiving payments.
5. Financial Dashboard
The dashboard gives you a quick look at your shop’s financial health. See at a glance if your shop is thriving or surviving. Tools such as LivePlan or InDinero give you clear visuals and show you if you’re starting to go off course. Then you can take the actions to keep moving towards your financial destination.
6. Cash Flow Analysis
Your accounting software should have cash flow statement capability. As with the budgeting tools there are specialty tools for cash flow tracking. A couple of suggestions are Float or a simple spreadsheet. These give you patterns from the past to offer a forecast of your shop’s financial future.
7. Inventory Management
This is all about efficiency and tracking. From the purchase of parts and consumables to generating sales reports and low inventory alerts, this is a very valuable tool. A couple of cloud-based options are SOS Inventory and Scout’s top Shelf.
8. Expense Tracking
Those tiny expenses can quickly add up and may be hard to track. Using an expense report tool such as Expensify or Xpenditure makes this much easier. Track those meals, gas, and incidental expenses by scanning receipts and typing in cash expenses. Some tools have the capability to link to mobile devices helping to track these instantly..
9. Business Credit Card
A business credit card, when used properly has several benefits
Improve your shop’s credit history
Earn higher credit limits
Receive rewards and discounts
Manage employee cards (ease of tracking expenses)
Boosts employee morale due to convenience and trust
10. E-commerce Solutions
Imagine your customer paying for their oil change before the service is completed. They need a couple of quarts of oil to tie them over. It’s easy to buy them online from their trusted repair shop.
Many businesses have seen an increases in cash flow since the beginning of the pandemic by using E-commerce solutions. These are powerful and create revenue streams that you may not have thought of.
11. Three Rivers Bookkeeping
With my 5-years of experience, these are the tools I use:
Accounting software – QuickBooks
Payroll Management System – ADP
Agile Billing – bill.com
Financial Dashboard – LivePlan
I’m passionate about books and service to my clients. If you’d like to have a conversation about tools and why I selected the one’s above, contact me. I can also outline the services I provide and why adding me to your team may make perfect sense to you.
Saving you time and headaches is the value I bring to you, the Auto Repair Shop Owner.
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We are upgrading this tool to the latest MaxiSys Ultra. This 2.5 year old Elite is looking for a new home. Has a current subscription and the hardware is under warranty as long as the subscription is maintained (renews in December). Only thing I know about is that the battery life has shortened since new. Scuffs in picture are on the screen protector that we never removed. Listing this one at $1849 shipped. I saw a similar one recently sell on Ebay for $2K. (NOTE: This unit is not a Chinese knock-off also seen on Ebay).
By Joe Marconi
From as far back as I can remember, labor has always been an issue. As and industry, we have struggled to get paid properly for the work we do. And those shops that understand how critical labor is, are the shops that have done quite well.
In today's auto repair shop world; Getting the right labor dollars is no longer a buzz topic or debate- Labor dollars will be the salvation of your business. Labor translates into profit, and will also allow you to build for the future and to attract the quality people we need in our industry.
If you don't know what your labor should be, you need to find out. Don't call ABC Auto, down the street to ask him. The odds are he did not do the math. Plus his expenses are not the same as yours.
Depending on what you pay your techs, your overhead, and knowing your numbers will determine your labor rate. I can tell you that there are shops that are paying techs a very good wage and those shops are getting $135 to $150 per hour, and more. That is not a typo. And there are shops that have multi-tier rates. So, for Diag and labor jobs that have no parts associated with the repair, their labor is much higher than their standard labor. It's fair, it's honest and it's time we all raise the bar.
Please, do the math, get help and make sure your labor is right for your shop.
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By Joe Marconi
The other day, a local fellow shop owner, was complaining to me that his plumber just charged him $225 labor for a house call. My response was, "And why do you have an issue with that?"
I know this plumber; he is very successful, in high demand in the area, does great work and provides a VALUBALE service. Does this sound familiar? You bet....sounds like you and your business!!!
When the day comes that all of us truly know what we are worth and charge for it, that will be the day when all us raise the level of the auto industry, begin to attract more people to us, pay our employees better, build for our future and go home with the pay we deserve.
I know this is going to cause controversy....so let's start the conversation.
For those with bodyshops, here is some interesting reading:
bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/ John Shortell I’ve taken a part time job working at an independent body shop close to my home writing estimates and supplements and harassing insurance companies. I’ve been at it for a few months now and up until recently I haven’t seen or heard from a Progressive appraiser. Finally, several weeks ago, I had a customer who was hit by one of Progressive’s insureds. Because I’m in a different area of the state now, I’m unfamiliar with the local appraisers. More importantly, they are unfamiliar with me.Â What fun!
First let me admit that I was spoiled working at a high line dealership body shop. Those evil rich drove nice new cars that demanded nice new OEM parts. Now all I see are Honda’s and Hyundai’s. Old ones at that. I’ve never seen so many junk cars in my life. But I guess the poor have to drive too.
Anyway, I had a customer who was hit by a Progressive insured. I wrote an estimate and asked the customer to make arrangements to meet the Progressive appraiser here at my shop. Progressive people hate that. They’d rather look at the vehicle somewhere else. Any where I am not. When the Progressive appraiser showed up I knew there would be trouble. He looked to be about 12 years old. He fit Progressive’s archetype for their ideal appraiser: young, naive and no experience in the collision repair industry.
His estimate was several hundred dollars less than mine. No surprise there. But it was a small repair, and that several hundred dollars amounted to about 30% of my estimate. Of course, the labor rate was an issue, but what really got me wound up with this moronic “blend within the panel” crap. I basically told the kid he could take his “blend within the panel” and have his first sexual experience with it. I wasn’t going to accept it. There were some other issues too, and itÂ all added up to the 30% deficiency. I was beginning to lose my cool because this prepubescent putz couldn’t figure out how to meet my bottom line, so I told him to do what a lot of other appraisers do: make something up and put it on the estimate. Of course, I was being sarcastic, but being so young, this kid didn’t understand the sarcasm and took offense to my suggesting he commit fraud. Well at least the kid is honest.
I asked the kid for his appraiser’s license number and the name of his supervisor and explained that I would be filing a complaint with the insurance department, which I did immediately after he left (And don’t we all know how effective that was). I told the customer not to worry about the difference–I would take care of it. I had her sign a repair authorization, a direction to pay and a power of attorney in case I had to sue the bastards. Working at a dealership I never had the opportunity to sue an insurance company because the owner didn’t want the trouble, but now that I’m working at a small independent shop, the owner is willing to go after insurers who don’t play nice.
I spoke with the kid’s supervisor over the phone about the situation. For the record, she was very pleasant, just like talking to sweet high school girl. I didn’t meet her in person, but by the sound of her voice she was another Progressive clone–too young and inexperienced in anything to be dealing with these issues. But she promised to look into it. I knew I was wasting my time, and I was. After three days of haggling, the young girl managed to come up with another hundred dollars. She was still a couple of hundred short. I explained to her that I was going to sue her insured for the balance.Â She responded with a perkyÂ “OK” like I had just asked her if she wanted to go hang out at the mall. She was trained to perfection. Great job Progressive behavior modification department!
With little effort I was able to locate the guy who hit my customer and promptly mailed him the following letter:
A few days later I received a phone call from Mr. XXXX. He wanted to discuss the matter. I explained the situation to him in more detail, and he agreed to pay the balance owed and then deal with his insurance company. I again offered to help him in any way I could with filing a complaint with the insurance department or recovering the money from Progressive. He didn’t take me up on the offer, but he did send a check the next day. I’ve yet to hear from him or Progressive so I have no idea if he was reimbursed or not. I do know the gentleman was not too happy about having pay for repairs to someone else’s car after he had been paying premiums for liability insurance. Something tells me Mr. XXXX will be finding someone else to send his hard earned money to for insurance in the near future.
I fully expected to have to go to small claims court. I knew Progressive would not give in, and I never expected the insured to cough up the money so easily. I feel sorry for the poor bastard. But I’ll be damned if I will become a cheap whore just because Progressive is too profit driven to treat my customers fairly. It’s ironic. Progressive was started by a left wing socialist. The name Progressive is not a coincidence. This nut job and his dope smoking kid, who recently stepped down from running the company, preached the progressive movements dogma, and heavily funded many of its whacked out causes. Progressives are supposed to be more fair than the evil rich. They are supposed to care about the little guy and scorn the evil corporations, yet here they are now acting as bad as any corporation ever did. They only care about their profit and share holders. Kind of makes them big time hypocrites. Just my humble opinion.
Lesson learned? Never sell yourself short. If you’re going to be a whore, at least be a high priced whore. Stand up for yourself. Had I gone to court, I most certainly would have won. It is astonishingly easy to demonstrate to a judge how labor rates are artificially suppressed by insurers, how they manipulate the system for their corporate financial gain, and that they will do just about anything to save a buck. To be fair, I would probably do the same if I worked for Progressive or another insurance company. It is all part of their survival. When your cat eats a cute little bird, you may think it horrific, but it is only natural. And it is only natural for collision repairers to fight to survive. What is not natural is when collision repairers give up and play nice at the risk of losing everything. That’s agonizing suicide.
If you’re thinking that I spend a lot of time talking about Progressive, there’s good reason. First, they deserve it. Second, I know my audience–and it’s Progressive. For this past year, Progressive Insurance has been my number one visitor to this website. State Farm has been catching up lately. They are the top visitor this month. Way ahead of everyone else. The only other entities that generate more traffic to this site are the large ISP’s like Road Runner and AOL. I’m flattered. Hopefully some of what I talk about is subliminally sinking in.
Oh yeah, remember my prediction about CCC’s announcement that it would get rid of the prompts for bumper covers? I said it would be slow in coming. Well here we are a couple of months and updates later and it’s still there. Your complaints forced them to make a public acquiescence, but now that the hell raising has died down, no need to rush things. We’re still waiting CCC. Wassup?
One more thing. Apparently there is a lawsuit going on in Arizona against Progressive. The plaintiffs have deposed a former Progressive employee. The deposition is interesting reading. For an inside look on the pressure and incentives to steer vehicles to network shops give it a read.Â It is only a partial transcript. If anyone has the entire document or a link, please send it to me or link to it in the comments section.
There are quite a few threads about pricing but I think it might be better to shift that discussion to value. How do you add value for your customers? For example, we have a very clean waiting room with coffee, wifi, nice music etc... We also, answer the phone in the happiest way possible, we use tablets for inspections, we vacuum the front footwells for all oil changes, we have demo parts to help educate customers and we have a 3yr 36k warranty. Recently I've been trying to dream up ways to add even more value so I can compete hard on what I deliver. For example, I just added a 20 year master tech, I thought I could vacuum every car and leave a thank you note on the dash.
What are you doing to add value? What additional value are you adding that I'm not doing? I would love to borrow some ideas if you are willing to share.