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What Auto Repair Management Software are you Using?


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The way I see it, I don't know how any shop owner can run an auto business today without a computer management system. What systems are you using and what advantages or disadvantages do you see?

 

 

I've been using Bay-Master Shop Management Software for like 10 years and have never had a problem. They are always adding new features to make the software more efficient too. And you can beat the price.

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  • 4 months later...

No! What I am saying is that I would like to be able to import the OEM part numbers and labor time into my estimates from what ever guide I am using be it Mitchell or Alldata. Based upon what I have seen so far I am leaning towards Alldata's system. Has anyone used both Mitchell and Alldata? Any other suggestions.

 

We use Shopkey. Really stable. Kind of limited in my opinion. Couple years ago we bought RO Writer. Great program but never had the level of service writer that could use it to it's full potential so we went back to Shopkey. I now have a qualified guy that I think can run it so I might be taking it out of the drawer again. Thinking of the industry today, RO is much better. It can do a lot more.

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I am using rowrighter and have been for about 7 years now, also using the accounting link from rowrighter to quick books

Ostrom's sales and service

Minong Wi

715-466-2377

 

How do you rate the integration with QB?

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We have had WinWorks since 1999. Being as I have not compared in to anything else for years I don't know I could bring anything to the table except answer question about WinWorks.

 

For you guys that have changed to a different company how was the conversion? Such as transfer over of inventory, customer, etc. Or did you just run one beside the other for a year or two?

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  • 2 months later...

I use Alldata Manage Elite. It's functional, but leaves much to be desired. It's obviously been built as a multi-industry invoice/customer management tool and then tweaked to fit the auto shop application. There are plenty of idiotic design oversights, but it does do the job.

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  • 3 months later...

We use Mitchell Manager Plus with OnDemand and recently added the E-CRM program. Customers love the Auto Owner Site for access to their vehicle records. Our back office uses Quickbooks and hope to add the Mitchell to Quickbooks Integrator soon. Mitchell is great. We also subscribe to Identifix and our Techs really like the flow of the program.

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  • 4 months later...

Just ran across this link that has them all lumped together and does not "rate" them.

 

http://www.autoinc.org/archives/2013/july2013/mechanical.htm

At least there some information they share. I personally love the answers regarding the tech support.

 

"award-winning customer support and training. We also have library staff that can assist you to find the information you need."

 

It's like today's politically correct way of saying - "you get nothing"? :rolleyes:

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I launched a web based shop management web site earlier this year. It is call SMOTGO or Shop Manager On The Go. Since it is web based, it is very simple to set up and start using. It is a free service and you can access the site anywhere you can get connected to the internet. It has estimating, invoicing, inventory management, vin decoding, CRM and marketing tools. Being web based, it offers a lot of features the traditional programs do not. Currently is short comings are lack of integration. My desire is to add integration in time, but there are no immediate plans. The site is at https://www.smotgo.com and the site about SMOTGO is at http://www.smotgoinfo.com

 

The next phase of the project is the SMOTGOAUTO site. This will be for the consumers/customers to go to view their vehicle history, documents, make appointments etc.

 

If you have any questions, you can email me at [email protected].

 

Scott

Edited by ScottSpec
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I have a question regarding this topic.

 

I am primarily an auto dealer. I have purchased a second property so we can offer service as well.

 

I am wondering what my best options are as far as dealership software goes.

 

I have been really interested in AutoManager (DeskManager)

 

It integrates both Service & Sales into one software.

 

My question is, should I use a software that integrates both Sales & Service, or get a software for both; for example Frazer Used Car Software for sales and Mitchel1 for service?

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  • 2 months later...

I use Mitchell manager for both sales and service. My dealership is a customer, everything we put into the used car gets recorded on an invoice including purchase price, transport, fees, parts. No labor except sublet. I put my cost in and zeros for the sell price. When the car sells it gets another part added zero cost sell price is what the customer paid. Mitchell figures the tax and profit. I can see in 2 seconds how much I have into a car. I'm a sole proprietor so it all goes into the same pot anyway, and if I want to see how the dealership is doing I just pull up my "customer" for the YTD totals. It skews the reports a little because theres no labor profit, but has no effect on the tech because he's hourly and gets a bonus on monthly gross regardless of the source. It works simply because I don't work on my cars unless there is nothing to do, if I had to take a tech off a customer car to work on a dealer car labor would have to be billed. The rest of the dealer accounting goes on the state mandated forms, hand written like they want.

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We are currently using Mitchell Manager SE 6.5. Went from RO Writer. Both are nice programs. Mitchell runs a SQL database while RO Writer is a bit archaic. I was told RO Writer will be upgrading soon. Mitchell is a monthly subscription fee whilst RO Writer can cost 10k for the same features. You own RO Writer though. I have to say i have been decently happy with Mitchell. I can see how a lot of people would be annoyed with using it. It is NOT user friendly and will take some time getting used it. If you can navigate around computers and programs well I don't think it should be a problem.

 

The biggest advantage of Mitchell that i've seen over RO Writer is the Revisions tab. You can have multiple estimates prepared before speaking to the customer. I can't tell you the countless times I've had to cut and paste and told customers to hold on while I prepared a different estimate while they were on the phone. This is a very powerful tool for service writing.

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  • 2 months later...

This is enough to make me want to quit !! We just bought TABS but they can't make it work! The support people are great but they can't fix it. When they do it creates another problem. I have been using Autoshopwriter DOS since '93 and it has features TABS doesn't. Unfortunately it is run by a Jerk. We paid for the windows update & y2k fix at the end of 1999. We never got the Windows update. The salesman told us it still had "bugs" and to wait a few months-we did. When we tried to get it a few months later "Tim" (owner) told us he had made some changes and we had to buy it all over again at "full price". Too hard to sue him out of state and he knew it......

I refuse to buy into a "subscription" so what's out there that really works? I have a small shop with 5 bays / 3 techs and can't afford the big $$$ stuff. I don't mind paying for something but I want to own it at some point. Except for the 1st lease all equipment I have leased since I make sure has a $1 buy out at the end of the contract & then we own it. "old school stubborn"

Edited by az mike
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I have used BayMaster for 4 years and I am very happy. The system can import list prices from either Motor or All Data. I can order place orders from suppliers such as CarQuest, Advance, NAPA, American Tire and transfer the cost/list and part number directly to the invoice. No phone calls, no mistakes transposing part numbers or pricing. I have a service reminder printer that interfaces with the program and a recent update allows me to send a custom or pre-canned text message that a vehicle is completed or parts have arrived or an estimate of repairs etc... The company is smaller than Mitchell and they have been very attentive to my needs or requests making changes accordingly which is a big bonus. They also offer partially printed invoices with a water mark like image of your location or logo. Very professional look to the finished work order. Previous to BayMaster I used a I used a DOS program called Repair Ware from Success Systems for over 20 years, no comparison to what I have now. I tried Mitchell when I made the change and found it harder to use than BayMaster and not as flexible for my

needs.

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I will look at Baymaster, thanx. We tried Napa Tracs a few years ago-what a disaster! "Scrip"- not happening. $300 or more per month? My DOS system has run without any update problems or crashes since 1993. Paid about $3500 into it (including windows update I never got) til 12/2014- minus 1 1/2 years with napa tracs ($4125). That puts me in at about $14.22 a month cost since I bought it. No price changes or contracts and haven't made a payment on it since Jan. 2000. (Y2K update) Though there were many benefits to the windows system it didn't offset the cost of the subscription.

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This is enough to make me want to quit !! We just bought TABS but they can't make it work! The support people are great but they can't fix it. When they do it creates another problem. I have been using Autoshopwriter DOS since '93 and it has features TABS doesn't. Unfortunately it is run by a Jerk. We paid for the windows update & y2k fix at the end of 1999. We never got the Windows update. The salesman told us it still had "bugs" and to wait a few months-we did. When we tried to get it a few months later "Tim" (owner) told us he had made some changes and we had to buy it all over again at "full price". Too hard to sue him out of state and he knew it......

I refuse to buy into a "subscription" so what's out there that really works? I have a small shop with 5 bays / 3 techs and can't afford the big $$$ stuff. I don't mind paying for something but I want to own it at some point. Except for the 1st lease all equipment I have leased since I make sure has a $1 buy out at the end of the contract & then we own it. "old school stubborn"

 

 

LOL! You sound like a customer that never wants to pay to fix things, but then constantly whines about how their car always breaks down. Computers, operating systems, protocols, etc are always changing and being updated. It's not 1993 anymore, and computers change at ten times the speed they did back then. To keep software reliable and secure, it has to be constantly tweaked and updated according to the most recently discovered security vulnerabilities and operating system changes. That's why they charge a subscription fee. They have to pay programmers to constantly update and tweak the software to keep it running properly. If you want a software that has lots of bugs and glitches for cheap, you can buy something made by a hobbyist/entrepreneur. It wont cost much, but as you've experienced, the support will be awful.

 

If you want a professional product, pony up and pay for something with ONGOING SOFTWARE SUPPORT. Yes, you will pay a subscription fee every month, but the software will work properly.

 

I pay almost $300/mo a month for RO Writer and it's probably the most profitable tool in my shop. Using SmartEcat to order parts saves me AT LEAST an hour a day, sometimes more. Break that up over a month and I'm paying roughly $10/hr to buy my own time back so I can focus on things that actually need my attention instead of copying and pasting VIN's and tabbing back and forth between parts store websites.

 

You know how those old timers come in and complain about how they used to pay $50 to have all eight spark plugs replaced in their V8 and then act like you're trying to rob them because you're charging modern prices? That's exactly what you're doing. It's not the same engine, they aren't the same plugs, and it's not the same software. Times change. Adjust.

Edited by Robbie
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Opinions are like ............ and don't be surprised that I put no value in yours. If you buy something that is constantly updated to keep up with what??. A quality product can be built without having to be fixed monthly. Subscriptions are designed to keep you paying them every month for a product you should be able to buy & own. I don't pay for Quick books or Windows updates every month but like a car I can buy the newest version "if or when I want to". Mine worked fine but just looking for a "newer model". Security is not an issue if your system is not "web based". "" This thread was supposed to be about different software - not YOUR opinion on what I should do in my shop."" After 31 years in business I think I'll do it MY WAY. no reply wanted or needed, I'll not continue with you on this. Let's get back on topic or not.

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After 31 years in business I think I'll do it MY WAY.

 

Enough said, gramps. This thread is about shop management software in general. Most of the people on this forum are looking for ways to make their shops more efficient and more profitable.

 

I'm simply pointing out that quality software:

 

A: Makes you way more productive, which makes you more money.

 

B: Is worth the cost, just like most of the other tools and equipment we spend fortunes on.

 

 

I could care less if you want to keep your business in the 20th century instead of moving forward with the rest of us. It's your business and it's your choice to make. I was just providing input based on the experience I've had with multiple shop management systems. No need to get butt-hurt over it.

Edited by Robbie
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I understand that. Maybe I took a harsh tone. I apologize. As shop owners, I think we all know what it feels like to have customers that don't value our time. I take the same tone when I hear a friend complain about the plumber charging a $50 service charge to make a house call. Many people expect things to be either free or cheap because they don't see things from the perspective of the service provider. I'm sure we've all had customers like this.

 

I'm not a software developer, but I've done enough programming and web design to know that it's extremely difficult, tedious, and frustrating to make even a simple piece of software that functions exactly the way it's supposed to 100% of the time. Software is built within a framework. Microsoft .net is a popular framework, SQL is another, and Java is another. A guy can spend months, or even years building a program and working out all the bugs, only to have one of the companies that build the frameworks change some tiny detail to address a security concern and cause a whole new crop of bugs in your software. It happens to every software company routinely. Shop management software is a boutique industry. It's not like they can sell a copy to everybody with a computer(like windows or quickbooks), so they've got to make enough on what they sell to make the developement of the software worthwhile and pay for the ongoing maintenance of the software by keeping programmers and customer service reps on staff. Yes, a guy can build a management system at home and sell it for $3,000 a copy and it might work pretty well for a lot of people. It will usually have glitches, compatibility issues, or may not work at all on your given system(Just like Mike describes with TABS).

 

The main difference between the old days when you could buy a piece of software and expect it to run as-is for several years without updates and the era we live in today is the widespread use of hacking tools and internet crime. In 93, hackers were an extremely rare breed and most people didn't know what that word meant. Nowadays, any teenager can download hacking tools that make breaking into the average PC as easy as clicking "Next" a handful of times. That is, unless your system has all of the most recent security updates. Many people don't understand this, but when Microsoft or any other company releases a security update, it's like a press release to hackers instructing them on exactly how to break into systems that haven't installed the update yet. That's why software companies have to keep skilled programmers on staff for as long as they want to gaurantee their products will work. When a new patch comes out, they have to make sure that their software still works the way it's supposed to.

 

I hope this helps people understand why modern management software with advanced features will always be based on a "subscpription" system and not a one time fee. If you want the software to work properly, somebody has to keep it working.

 

I can't tell you what kind of software your shop needs, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that you will not find a management system with modern features that works consistently and doesn't include a subscription fee. That's just the way technology is going, whether we like it or not. (Just google "office online." Soon you wont even be able to BUY a copy of microsoft office)

Edited by Robbie
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  • 2 weeks later...

AllData Manage Online user here.

 

It's different compared to the AllData Manage DVD version. I freaking love it. All cloud based and is continually updated with improvements on the fly. My wife (who has no experience what-so-ever in the industry) has started using it and finds it pretty intuitive. I now have her putting together estimates, invoicing customers, taking care of the CRM, ordering parts, etc. It is subscription based at $104 per month...but the productivity numbers are well worth the investment! Way cheaper than another employee.

 

Because it's cloud based, I could be on the road with an iPad or even my iPhone and could look up customer info, put estimates together, order parts, etc. Also get up to three user logins. My wife and I have our own so we can work on separate computers at the same time.

 

AJ

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  • 5 months later...

I am looking at SMS. I've read this thread, and researching online. My main concern is that we have a retail store. Is there a SMS that will allow me to maintain an inventory for retail? Please let me know if it exists. I really don't want to go between quickbooks and a SMS to run our daily business. I also do not want to contact the software companies just yet. I know that once I do, they will be hounding me to buy their product.

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I am looking at SMS. I've read this thread, and researching online. My main concern is that we have a retail store. Is there a SMS that will allow me to maintain an inventory for retail? Please let me know if it exists. I really don't want to go between quickbooks and a SMS to run our daily business. I also do not want to contact the software companies just yet. I know that once I do, they will be hounding me to buy their product.

I use Baymaster for my inventory management, and sell retail. Give them a try and tell them I sent you. I had similar concerns and they gave me a free 30 day trial with all the features turned on. My biggest concern was inventory management and once I tried it, I was sold. Took a couple weeks to get all my inventory entered in, because the previous owner didn't have anything in place for managing inventory. Once entered, it works great. Tech support is some of the best I've ever dealt with as well. A lady came in on her day off in order to do a major update to my system just so I could try a new feature without interrupting my normal business operations.

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Mitchell integrates with nextpart - the dealer link. I can look up dealer parts, transfer them with my matrix, and order in a few seconds! No mistakes. Same with autozone Napa advance and parts plus. Part #s and cost transfer, labor time transfers, parts get orderedf. its a good system.

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We used to have Mitchell, but switched to WinWorks a little more than one year ago. I liked that we could pay 12 installments and own it. And if you want ongoing full tech support, it's only about $600/year. It doesn't do EVERYTHING, (it doesn't appear that there is any one platform that DOES), but it's pretty easy to pick up, is stable, and the things it does do, it does very well. It integrates with most major parts distributors (we use Worldpac), and is fairly customizable. We are still picking up new twists and tricks to making things run smoother and faster with it.

 

I am surprised that so few shops in this thread of replies have mentioned WinWorks. It's really nice not to have that monthly $300+ bill coming for your shop software.

 

We also use ALLDATA and Partslink24.

 

Hope this helps, email me if you want more info. [email protected]

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I have been watching this topic very close for a few weeks, the more people post the more confused i get. I have been on Quickbooks since mid 90s, My brother has been doing the payables and receivables for 35 years at the store. Business has changed so much and volume has increased to the point that Quickbooks is a paperwork and input nightmare for us, although quickbooks accounting is great, we really are comfortable with quickbooks accounting. We have 1 location but maybe putting in 3 or 4 more locations in next few years. We have decided to reach out and find other options for our shop management software, I really do not use a shop management now, because of me and my brothers knowledge of Quickbooks, integration is a must. I have limited knowledge of all the shop programs, it seems from what i have read and been told is Mitchell "we have had for 18 years" INTEGRATES well with Quickbooks. The new Mitchell guy came buy last week and me and my brother discussed adding Mitchell Manager SE with him, It has really gotten mind boggling for me , out of my comfort range , I am in uncharted waters. I realize no one can tell me which program to purchase. This is my idea ,I think, I want a program that I or one of my writers basically can walk out to car scan vin or tag with camera ,write work order, assign to tech , get diag from tech,he can type in and it comes on our tablets, look up parts and tires ,give estimate , order all items, it puts them on estimate or invoice creates it , it automatically enters it in payables and receivables. We are hand typing that today. Mitchell has offered a 30 day trial, I can bail out with no charge. They do all the setup and integration. I have not made a final decision other than the Mitchell guy did come buy and see me. Ok now it gets really confusing to me, what is Bolt On, I am confused on this, I thought it was in the Manager SE or that SE is the same program . I see where bolt on and Mitchell integrate . That issue has me stuck. Is there another program that works with Mitchell labor and Quickbooks that I should look at. I understand I will be buying some tablets for my techs and SW's. I would rather have a program that does not make me own proprietary computers and cash drawers etc. I have 8 workstations now that I can use . Guys, I understand this is a broad and crazy question, as you can tell I am spending a lot of energy on this , I think this is a major decision in the direction of my shop. Has anyone here been in my situation with Quickbooks and made this changeover, if so could you quickly tell me who you went with , why, do you like it. I have read Mitchell support is not the best. I know it will be challenging for all of us , I have put this off for 3 years. I have got to make a move in this fast changing business. I understand you get what you pay for, I do like the idea of pay as you go with all the updates and changes that will come up weekly. Any input is appreciated. Thanks David

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I have been watching this topic very close for a few weeks, the more people post the more confused i get. I have been on Quickbooks since mid 90s, My brother has been doing the payables and receivables for 35 years at the store. Business has changed so much and volume has increased to the point that Quickbooks is a paperwork and input nightmare for us, although quickbooks accounting is great, we really are comfortable with quickbooks accounting. We have 1 location but maybe putting in 3 or 4 more locations in next few years. We have decided to reach out and find other options for our shop management software, I really do not use a shop management now, because of me and my brothers knowledge of Quickbooks, integration is a must. I have limited knowledge of all the shop programs, it seems from what i have read and been told is Mitchell "we have had for 18 years" INTEGRATES well with Quickbooks. The new Mitchell guy came buy last week and me and my brother discussed adding Mitchell Manager SE with him, It has really gotten mind boggling for me , out of my comfort range , I am in uncharted waters. I realize no one can tell me which program to purchase. This is my idea ,I think, I want a program that I or one of my writers basically can walk out to car scan vin or tag with camera ,write work order, assign to tech , get diag from tech,he can type in and it comes on our tablets, look up parts and tires ,give estimate , order all items, it puts them on estimate or invoice creates it , it automatically enters it in payables and receivables. We are hand typing that today. Mitchell has offered a 30 day trial, I can bail out with no charge. They do all the setup and integration. I have not made a final decision other than the Mitchell guy did come buy and see me. Ok now it gets really confusing to me, what is Bolt On, I am confused on this, I thought it was in the Manager SE or that SE is the same program . I see where bolt on and Mitchell integrate . That issue has me stuck. Is there another program that works with Mitchell labor and Quickbooks that I should look at. I understand I will be buying some tablets for my techs and SW's. I would rather have a program that does not make me own proprietary computers and cash drawers etc. I have 8 workstations now that I can use . Guys, I understand this is a broad and crazy question, as you can tell I am spending a lot of energy on this , I think this is a major decision in the direction of my shop. Has anyone here been in my situation with Quickbooks and made this changeover, if so could you quickly tell me who you went with , why, do you like it. I have read Mitchell support is not the best. I know it will be challenging for all of us , I have put this off for 3 years. I have got to make a move in this fast changing business. I understand you get what you pay for, I do like the idea of pay as you go with all the updates and changes that will come up weekly. Any input is appreciated. Thanks David

 

Hi David, Happy Labor Day.

 

You’re right in taking this change seriously as each shop management system has its pros and cons. As far as being able to walk out to a car and scan the VIN, write a work order, assign a tech, etc. though, shop management systems themselves don’t do that.

 

This is where Bolt On (my company) comes in. We are an automotive repair software company that fully integrates with the most popular shop management systems. We provides shops with the ability to take a tablet out to the car, scan the VIN, decode the license, start an order, assign a tech, take service specific photos, text and email customers a digital multi-point inspection with photos attached, etc.

 

All of the information gathered with the tablet is integrated (in real time) back into the shop management system, eliminating the need to write anything down.

 

There are other benefits as well, but in an effort to avoid self-promotion on this forum, you may want to reach out to us. http://boltontechnology.com/contact-us/

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Michael, I spoke to John at Bolt-On this morning,He was very resourceful and polite. He answered all my questions he is sending me the link for some answers I had. I spoke with my Mitchell rep a few minutes ago.We are meeting today. It is actually starting to sink in how it all operates. Us old guys are having to change the way our brains process info. John, with Bolt On,was a super polite and informative guy.Thanks for reaching out. David Mack

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Michael, I spoke to John at Bolt-On this morning,He was very resourceful and polite. He answered all my questions he is sending me the link for some answers I had. I spoke with my Mitchell rep a few minutes ago.We are meeting today. It is actually starting to sink in how it all operates. Us old guys are having to change the way our brains process info. John, with Bolt On,was a super polite and informative guy.Thanks for reaching out. David Mack

 

Thanks David,

I appreciate you taking the time to discuss your experience with John. It sounds like you have a better idea of your options now. If you have any further questions at all, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here for you.

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I am just a one man show, but I saw the benefit of using Mitchell 1 software (Manager SE Version 6.9). I absolutely LOVE it!!!!! I love the fact that it handles the accounting side of managing the shop as well as the service side. I use the repair estimator all the time to figure out how much to quote on the estimate. Also, Like someone said earlier, you can create your own pricing matrix. The manager SE program only cost me $212/month. I also love having the ability to email quotes to people. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Mitchell 1.

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  • 5 months later...

Any one got any updates on this stuff. After getting off the Phone with RO Writer today, I'm going to do everything in my power to never give them a dime of my money again. I bought my program, and now I can't get upgrades any more because they've switched to a subscription based program at almost $300 a month.

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Any one got any updates on this stuff. After getting off the Phone with RO Writer today, I'm going to do everything in my power to never give them a dime of my money again. I bought my program, and now I can't get upgrades any more because they've switched to a subscription based program at almost $300 a month.

 

wow I had no idea. That sucks. As far as I remember they have some $65 monthly charge for tech support which they make you pay for at least a year even if you don't use them.

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I purchased a Lite version of the program in 09 I believe for somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 grand, has service for another year after that. Never needed support for the last 5 years until now, Ran into an issue because my computer is taking a crap. And can't install R.O. writer on my new one, they want to charge by the minute for help.

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To address a couple concerns that keep coming up on this thread:

 

1. We had to install an all new server setup late last year (our old hardware had become obsolete). While it wasn't totally painless, WinWorks did swap over to the new hardware with very little problem. So I can vouch that once you have the software, it can go to a new hardware setup and still function.

 

2. Winworks DOES integrate with Quickbooks. We have not made the leap to do it yet, but we're planning to. Winworks will generate a QB file whenever you want to produce it, ready for import into your Quickbooks.

 

3. Regarding opinions on subscription based vs. "buyable" software, as I said previously, I love the fact that I don't have an ongoing $300 to $500/month bill coming for my shop management program. Guys, these programs are NOT rocket science. They don't utilize high-level math or algorithms that have to be constantly changed or optimized. They are really a glorified mashup of a Word document program, an Excel spreadsheet, with a point & click ordering function for parts. Once the program is written, it's pretty much done, and if it works (which WinWorks does), it should not have to be fiddled with again. I just do not see the need for a constant payment to a software company that isn't doing anything for me, when I can buy a software package outright.

 

I'm not here to criticize anyone's software choice, if it works for you, that's great. But I don't like to see shop owners thinking there are no options available other than a monthly bill that comes forever. When we used to have Mitchell One, our rep couldn't answer the simplest question about the product. He was brutal to deal with. Switching to WinWorks got us a better financial deal as well as got us away from an ineffective support system.

 

Good luck

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  • 2 months later...

If I may, I'd like to give my humble opinion on some of the differences between subscription and purchased software, and why you might want to make sure your software company is doing well.

 

First, if a software company doesn't have some kind of recurring income from their customers, they will soon go the way of the dodo bird.

 

1) Subscriptions give the software company a nice steady income, and the customer really has more of a voice, because subscription based software companies do not want to lose subscription based customers.. they all add up.

 

2) Purchases allow the software company to make a one time amount of money, but in order to support said software, they must charge an annual support fee of some kind. The problem here of course, if the software is very good and the customer doesn't think he/she needs support, then the software company will get no recurring income. A company can literally program themselves right out of business.

 

So for the customers, purchases can seem like a very good way to go, but if your software company is gone because you purchased no more support, then you get to eventually go out and buy new software. If you are subscribing you have a much better chance the software company will be there for years to come.

 

Software companies that excel are the ones that are constantly adding new features to the program. This keeps customers interested in keeping up to date, and the expanding possibility of new customers.

 

As was mentioned in this topic, once a program is done... and there is the problem, a software program is never done. There are industry changes, customers want this and that, the operating systems change (How fast did we go from Windows 7 to Windows 10?). We have been working on our program (Digital Wrench) for about 3 years now, and there is no stopping the requests.

 

Of course no matter what, you must make sure the software you are looking at has the features you need. But if your software company is done writing the software, what's going to happen when that new feature everyone else has, will not get added to your software?

 

Software is more of a service than a product, and all software companies know this. Of course, I can completely understand why you might not want to pay every single month with no way out. In that case, see if you can subscribe, then purchase later. You really should have a choice, but some companies really can't afford to give you that kind of a choice. (Shameless plug: We do!)

 

Another thing you might want to look at is if your software has an export capability to export at least your customers and inventory, should you decide to change to another company. It is your data, make sure you can keep it.

 

Ray Rippey

Digital Wrench Repair Software

www.workordersoft.com

Edited by RayRippey
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I was told that a software company can not "legally" keep you from accessing your previous records /transactions . Does anyone know how to contact whoever enforces these laws? Napa Tracs told me that when we left. And we "can" still access all our stuff. Another company has locked us out so we "CAN NOT" access our records.

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This will be my last on this subject- I believe that software is not so special that it doesn't have a finite value. If you build something it should be worth a certain value. As Americans we should have a choice to buy or subscribe as we choose. The subscription idea and on-going upgrades is good for some, just not me. And how much more do we really need? If a system works well then I shouldn't have to pay for it every month -I paid what it is worth (or at least what we agreed upon) especially if there are no upgrades that benefit me.

I neither need or want "marketing tools" .

I don't want to text my customers. I want to talk to them. I can speak MUCH faster than text and if the customer doesn't understand I am right there to clarify what I said or what they may have misunderstood.

I was thinking that charging a subscription or membership fee to my customers would be a great way to have a steady income and I can work when I feel like it and Fish or Golf when I don't . I can tell them I am working on ways to upgrade the way we fix their cars (whether or not it benefits them) and if I work on it 3 hours a month I am not lying as I am actually doing "something" . I am not saying there are a lot of companies doing this but there are so many that have too many "holes" in their system that it seems they can't be working too hard to provide the "upgrades & service" they are charging for. Every year we have to pay OTC, FORD, CHRYSLER etc. for upgrades or we get behind on the repair info ,wiring diagrams ,etc. But this is info that has changed -sometimes drastically from last year, and it includes new models that have never existed before. All these updates and subscriptions take away from my bottom line- and isn't that why we work? A shop management program only does so much, And I personally don't want to have to do $500+ a month more in work to pay for it. I'd rather go home on time tonite. "GRAMPS" (THE DUMB ONE). July 1st, 2016-our 32nd year in this business.

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  • 6 months later...

Check out Omnique. Cloud based, can be accesed anywhere and full of features for modern shop. I demo maybe 20 systems before choosing them. Check them out and demo their system. Oh and support is great.

 

Ps. Ro writer also a great system. Tested it its great only thing is not cloud based. If ur back up goes then your down.

 

I elect cloud based because you will never loose the data and if you have no internet just hot spot from your phone and ur back online

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We use alldata. I looked at mitchel at a friends shop and found the 8nterface cumbersome and confusing. Alldata is simple to use, i train my guys for 15 minutes and they can write simple RO's. Alldata repair is complete and can request information through e mail fast. I have not tried the onljne version of their management program. I do not like the idea of having my sales and customer info in the cloud and reliant on an internet connection. I suggest alldata manage dvd version with the online repair info. They now have a tablet version too but i have not bothered yet.

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We used Mitchell One in the past, but switched to Winworks for a couple reasons:

1. You buy Winworks, and once its paid for, you own it. No more monthly $300-$500 charges. You can buy $600/year tech support, but they answer normal questions even if you don't have the support.

2. This may be unique to us, but our Mitchell sales rep was horrible. The guy didn't know the product and couldn't answer any questions.

3. Winworks integrates with digital inspection apps like Autovitals, which we are considering now. Winworks also has their own digital inspection add-on, but I don't know how good it is.

 

No doubt, there isn't one system that does everything, but we've found Winworks to be pretty good, and the fact that its paid for is great.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think the biggest problem with shopping for shop management software, for us at least, has been cost. More specifically, it's as if the cost is a big secret, I can't find ANY of this info via Google. Perhaps the forum can post a sticky with the average price for the main SMS programs? It would help newcomers like me, I think, be able to sort out what we can and cannot afford very quickly, and then pick the best within our price range.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         3 comments
      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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