Virginia's Governor in his 2020 budget proposal has included elimination of the state's vehicle safety inspection program. In addition, a state legislator has introduced a bill doing the same. I serve on the board of the Virginia Automotive Association, a group of over 200 independent shops who have banded together to lobby in the interests of our industry. VAA has ponied up a a $25000 increase in the lobbying budget to fight the move. As a shop owner, I have mixed emotions on the subject, but if I were gambling I would bet that the program will go away. On one hand, it's kind of nice that the state's motorists are forced to bring their cars to a shop once a year, giving us an opportunity to make them life-long customers. Also, it has created a cadre of technicians in the state who have been vetted and background checked by the state police. On the other hand, there are a litany of negatives inluding customer resentment, anger when their vehicle fails, uneven management by the state police who oversee the program due to limited resources. Some shops are "by the book" while others are "sticker mills" who will pass anything. Unfortunately, VAA and others have been unable to produce hard statistics that show that the program .makes a difference in highway safety. The big studies I have found blame driver error for the majority of accidents. What is ironic is that just this year VAA won a long battle to get the inspection fee raised from 16 to 20 dollars. The legislature convenes in January to enact laws that will take effect in June.
I would like to hear how other Virginia shop owners feel and I would like to hear from other states that have witnessed termination of these programs.
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.
It's that time of year again folks! VisionKC is coming up right around the corner.
And that means that the annual ASOG dinner is ramping up its registration efforts!
The dinner is open for all to attend, regardless of membership to ASOG and all proceeds go to the ASOG scholarship efforts!
ASOG will bring another lucky shop owner with 3 years or less in business to VisionKC. This will be the 3rd scholarship the group has provided, but it certainly won't be the last. We look forward to providing scholarships to events all over the country, and working to ensure scholarship winners are given the tools and paths needed to succeed.
Jacob and Lacey Bunyard were last year's winners - when we met Jacob and Lacey things were tough! It wasn't just the business that was suffering, through the suffering of the business, Jacob and Lacey's family...their children were paying the true price.
Today, Jacob and Lacey, through the connections and offerings presented at VisionKC have turned the business from a significant liability into a resource which provides a good life for their family.
We've also offered scholarships to the greatest automotive show in the south east, ASTE by The Independent Garage Owners Of NC and seen tremendous growth of that shop owner as well.
We ask that you, as shop owners, and part of the automotive family join us for dinner. We ask that you support our efforts to improve this industry, even if it's one shop at a time. And most of all, we ask that you join us in continuing to bring unity to shops nationwide, to continue to share a vision of something better for this industry - a higher potential, a better life for owners who haven't been given the opportunity to see there's a better, more profitable way.
Isn't it time that we stop seeing each other as competition, but as allies?
Please join us for dinner if you are able.
Information about the dinner is available at
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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 Elon Block
New blog post on this very important topic here:
All major pricing changes like this one, affects everyone in the auto repair industry.
By Oova At Autovitals
A Candid Analysis of Today's Workflow Management Tools
Lets summarize the tools and processes available to the independent shop owner, service advisor and technician to manage workflow.
the service advisor's ability to memorize what is going on the technician's ability to recall what the service advisor said 10 minutes ago or earlier the service advisor'a ability to decipher the tech's scribble The tech's ability to put clear explanations on a piece of paper (work order) the WIP screen in your point of sale software (POS) the printer printing work orders the paper rack holding printed paper sheets the bags keeping the key to the vehicle and the paperwork together the scheduler in your POS a white board or spreadsheet managing the vehicles going through the shop a time punching system or flag sheet The sad part:
Not one of these 11 pieces can be skipped. Service advisors are super heros juggling 11 disjointed "management tools" at any time during the day.
How do they do this? Super hero ability, you knew it already.
Now the even sadder part:
In order for the service advisor to juggle all this successfully, they often skip or at least minimize the engagement with the motorist.
Lets repeat that with different words:"Service advisors skip advising service because they are too busy doing busy work because the tools available are inadequate."
Do you agree, or am I smoking something here?
Last but not least, the saddest part:
You as owner can't measure behavior today, only results from the POS reports.
What does that mean?
you don't know what tech is pencil whipping or over recommending you don't know how many recs from the tech uncovered during the inspection make it to estimate (our research revealed 56% of all recommended actions from the tech are not sold. Fifty-six. Do you smell opportunity here as well?) you don't know why the vehicles are in the shop for way too long. Is it the waiting for parts or the service advisor or the dog ate the home work? you don't know why the tech efficiency of tech A is at 95% but of tech B at 53% you can't change behavior if you can't measure it
How to we turn 11 disjointed tools into 3 integrated ones?
You add a tablet(1) to the techs toolbox, replace the paper rack with a second screen(2) and download SmartFlow(3) to the tablet from the App Store or Google Play and add it to the browser bookmarks on the second screen.
Then get rid of
paper time punching system laptops in the back shop paper rack running back and forth (you might have to buy the service advisor a gym membership) white board spreadsheets bags flustered service advisors Done.
Now your service advisor counter might look like this
The photo credit goes to Matt Purselle, he turned a typical two screen setup into a four screen setup. One screen for the POS, one for SmartFlow, one for email, one for everything else. Two are enough for the beginning, some of our clients use only one and it works too, thanks to built-in alerts.
Matt's counter looks like this seen with the eyes of the service advisor(s).
How do the techs know what is going on? they clock in on the tablet, EVERYTHING is on the tablet now, Identifix, Alldata or Mitchell, work order, inspection sheet, any info they need. They stay at the vehicle and smart-chat with the service advisor and get alerted about new info and new assignments for them.
Have you introduced a daily huddle with the techs? Great, do it like Matt and use a 55 inch screen with touch overlay to manage the day.
How does that sound to you?
Service Advisors are freed up, and can focus on the customer. All recommended actions by the tech are on the estimate now. You can measure and correct tech and service advisor behavior. Pencil whipping, over recommedning, time on the vehicle, tech efficiency and productivity, shop proficiency, anything you want really, since you are digital now.
One of our franchise clients just send this over to me
Sound to good to be true?
Ask SmartFlow users in your area or us.