Jump to content

Grammarly Writing Support

The #1 Writing Tool

Grammarly Writing Support

What do want or need in shop management software?

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone,


I'm a recent college grad, former Toyota technician, and current software developer. I'm working on a shop management platform for a few shops in my area, but want to build it so it is useful for many others. The shops I'm building it for have limited budgets, and are currently using accounting software like Quickbooks and/or just doing it on paper. They are all profitable, established businesses, yet still use old accounting/ repair order tracking and billing methods.


What features do you look for in software? I know there are many options available on the market, but it seems like many of them have too many features and look confusing to use.



Any insight would be hugely helpful!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a New BannerBuzz.com Customer You Get 20% Off Your First Order! Use Code: FIRSTORDER for 20% Off Custom Banners, Decals, Marketing Materials, and Any Custom Print Needs! Offer Does Not End

As a New BannerBuzz.com Customer You Get 20% Off Your First Order! Use Code: FIRSTORDER for 20% Off Custom Banners, Decals, Marketing Materials, and Any Custom Print Needs! Offer Does Not End

As a New BannerBuzz.com Customer You Get 20% Off Your First Order! Use Code: FIRSTORDER for 20% Off Custom Banners, Decals, Marketing Materials, and Any Custom Print Needs! Offer Does Not End

There are a lot of software packages available. Why reinvent the wheel?

Maybe he thinks he can improve it? I use Mitchell and there are times I really hate it... Bolt On Technology is a company that has done well for themselves making and selling improvements for Mitchell...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just do not see the opportunity for a new software program developed because someone is a programmer.  First there are hundreds of programs out there and some of them are very strong and those companies have deep pockets.  Second the shops who he is currently working with are put together on a shoe string and are mostly the ones still in the stone age (doing it all by hand or with Quick Books).  These are not the shops who are usually profitable and who are willing and able to spend money on software.  The shops who are willing to spend money are the ones who are profitable and those usually have been around a while.  They already have software packages in place.  It is a big undertaking for a shop to change.  They have to be very dissatisfied with what they have but they are also experienced enough to carefully evaluate new software.  To succeed a new software developer will have to develop a good product with some competitive edge, will have to put together a large marketing sales campaign, and will have to be able to do support and training.  This is more than one man can do and requires capital.  To be successful one will have to burn through a lot of money before you can make any money.


A huge issue for me would be that I want to be certain that I have a software provider who can give me support and who will be around.  There was a software package in a different industry that I use to use.  It was a good program that worked well for the purpose.  However, the guy who developed this program died unexpectedly and the widow just closed the company.  No support, no updates, and if you had a problem it was over.  I do not know about anyone else but I consider my customer list and repair history to be very valuable and I would not trust my stuff to a uncapitalized startup.  

Agreed. We're preparing to switch to the Motoshop SMS, quite worried about the hassles involved and the possibility of problems..


Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2



Link to comment
Share on other sites

He didn't ask anyone to sign up and hand over their customer database and history. He just asked what features we are looking for in management software. Geez, no need to go kill his dream right from the start...


Screw it Jake, give up now I guess. It can't be done! xrac said so! Save yourself the time and headache. Give up and just go to work for someone else, punching the clock... You're only one man anyway, how dare you dream!


Text messaging is a huge plus, a decent scheduling tool to schedule customers coming in, the ability to customize reports (end of month, new customers, recommended repairs, etc), customized and electronic multi point inspections, and the most important... customer support. When someone needs help, don't try the over the phone crap. Remote log-in and fix the problem now... not later, now!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a lot of software packages available. Why reinvent the wheel?


Could not agree more, Frank. There are at over 20 different software packages available for this right now. Here's a list that I have compiled:





Auto Genius / Simply Genius






Easy RO




Master Repair

Motive Power









Shop Director




Take Charge

EDIT: Here's some more I forgot (I kept a list of the actually decent ones separate)

IGST: In Genius Shop Tools







AutoBiz Software

Edited by Anthem
Link to comment
Share on other sites



It seems no one has actually answered the question you asked. I think that is because the focus has shifted to the bigger question, why do you want to create an SMS. You wrote that the shops you want to build it for have limited budgets, so that would lead me to believe that you already have some idea that making money from a SMS is challenging.


I have been a shop owner for the last 25 years and my biggest hobby is computers, networking, software development (mostly database application), and web development. I launched a Web Based or SMS in early 2013 https://www.smotgo.com, so I may be able to answer some of your questions.


xrac and mmotley both have some pretty good points. But as I said it really gets back to why you want to do this. I'm going to assume that it is not for the money. So far I have spent about $20,000.00 mostly for marketing, and have no real expectation of profiting from it. Although I am in some talks now that may lead to some revenue.


If you just want to help these few shops into something more productive for their shops then QuickBooks, there probably is no need to reinvent the wheel as there are quite a few programs out there. Your time might be better used teaching them how to use a program. I think a lot of them are quite dated, and some pretty old technology. Most are still PC based with antiquated licensing methods and difficult installation and set up. I believe the main reason for this is that there is not much money in the SMS market so you will not see huge investments in it. The big companies like AllData, Mitchel, etc. want to sell you there info. The SMS portion is a giveaway and not a lot of resources are put into them as you can see by mmotley's comments.


There are some good reasons to reinvent the wheel. Things can always be improved, mine included. Fortunately others thought the wheel could be reinvented, otherwise we might still be riding around on wooden wheels with spokes.


My SMS is a Web App. There is no installation and no back ups to worry about. You can go to https://www.smotgo.com create an account and your first invoice in about 5 minutes. It can be accessed from any modern web browser with an internet connection. I've created and emailed invoices from the inside of a vehicle I was working on from my smart phone. I grab a laptop or tablet walk in the back, check my inventory then email my purchase orders before I leave the parts area. As I write this I am sitting on my front lawn with my new dog. I am looking at our schedule for the week and to see if any employees have scheduled time off for the week. In the mornings, I log in to see what is scheduled for the day. I can do this from my smart phone as well. My employees log in so they can see what is on the schedule. Some log in on their days off to see what kind of work we are doing that day. Each employee has a computer and can access the vehicle's history, the customer's info, as well as the inventory info.


I can send out email reminders from my smart phone as well as estimates, invoices, or links to the smotgoauto.com companion site where customers can go to see and approve estimates or view any file you have uploaded for their vehicle (dtc printout, images, tsb's, ect.) These are just some of the features off the top of my head that are not available in most SMS programs.


So, back to your original question. First, don't discount, but do limit the value of the feedback you get from shop owners. Shop owners, like most people, myself included, quite often think we want something till we get it. Then we realize it was not quite as we imagined and that new toy just sits on the shelf. The best ideas come from observation. Watch how a program is used and find ways to make it better, faster, and easier to use. I watch my service manager all the time. When I see something that frustrates him, I know that is where something can be done better.


Here is some advise I was given a little over a year ago by someone who had built an SMS. He told me that his experience showed him that most small shops just wanted to create an invoice as quickly as possible and that I should just throw away a lot of the features I had put in mine. While I don't totally agree with him, his assessment is pretty accurate and you touched on this in your last sentence. As far as all the advanced reporting, I have some fairly basic reporting with the plan to add reports as requested, and have not had any request for anything more advanced.


Most people are concerned about their data and they should be. There are certainly some advantages a large company can bring to the table. However, I think being able to move data in and out of a program should be a user's first concern. As we have found out, there is no too big to fail and no one likes it when their data is held hostage. Also, there is no company that can help you if your data is lost or corrupted for some reason.


Parts, labor, and part ordering integration is the weakest area of my SMS for a number of reasons, and is probably the most requested feature.


email me or post here if you have any more questions. [email protected]




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

    • By Joe Marconi in Joe's Blog
      There are many things to consider when creating a marketing plan. Among them are establishing a budget, what forms of media should be used, and whether traditional advertising, such as TV, radio, and print, is still relevant.  And of course, how much should be allocated to social media and digital advertising?
      All the above are essentials to any marketing plan. However, the first step is ensuring that you have a healthy workplace and that your employees understand your company’s culture and the overall mission and vision. 
      We all know that happy employees create happy customers. No form of advertising can overcome a toxic workplace with unhappy employees. If your employees are not creating an amazing customer experience, your marketing plan will not work.
      Advertising and marketing may bring in customers, but the people in your company creating an amazing customer experience will be the most important component of your marketing plan.  It’s the customer experience that sells work and gives the customer a reason to return. 
      Creating an amazing employee experience, which creates an amazing customer experience, is also the most cost-effective part of your marketing plan. In fact, it cost next to nothing.
  • Upcoming Events

    No upcoming events found
  • Similar Topics

    • By TTP

      Premium Member Content 

      This content is hidden to guests, one of the benefits of a paid membership. Please login or register to view this content.

    • By Joe Marconi
      As we head toward the end of the year and look to 2023, I thought it would be beneficial for all if we share the biggest challenges that are facing auto repair shops. 
      Is it hiring new employees? Employee retention? The economy?  Technology? Or perhaps, finding the right training for your employees? 
      Let's start the conversation and post your biggest challenge! 
    • By Joe Marconi
      Shrinking Repair Outlet Population
      "Vehicle maintenance is becoming less convenient for Americans. There are fewer outlets repairing cars and light trucks, despite the increasing population and complexity of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads. The number of repair (DIFM) outlets fell by nearly 14,000 over the past five years (2016 to 2021), and future annual reductions are likely."
      "Nevertheless, not all types of repair outlets suffered losses. Repair Specialists, Foreign Specialists, and Dealers have grown in number, while the four other major types of DIFM outlets have endured thinning ranks. See the all-new 2023 Lang Aftermarket Annual for a ten-year history of the changing number of all major types of auto repair outlets across the U.S."

      14,000 Fewer Light Vehicle Repair Outlets
      At mid-year 2021, there were over 211,700 car and light truck repair outlets in the U.S., down approximately 14,000 from 2016.
      At the same time, vehicles in operation (VIO) climbed by more than 18 million and grew more complex, increasing the diagnostic and repair challenges faced by repair outlets.
      Outlet Groups Growing in Number
      Although the light vehicle repair outlet population fell by approximately 14,000 from 2016 to 2021, not all outlet types have declined.
      Among the seven major types of car and light truck repair outlets, three increased in number between 2016 and 2021: Repair Specialists, Foreign Specialists, and Vehicle Dealers. These outlets groups grew even during the onslaught of COVID-19.
      Repair Specialists
      Focusing on a limited menu of vehicle repair and maintenance, Repair Specialist locations totaled just over 29,600 at mid-year 2021, up several hundred from five years earlier. Repair Specialists are the second largest DIFM outlet group.
      Foreign Specialists
      Foreign Specialists concentrate on the repair of foreign nameplate cars and light trucks. They achieved the largest outlet gain over the past five years and the greatest percentage growth in locations.
      There were just over 19,600 Foreign Specialists nationwide at mid-year 2012, up approximately 700 from five years earlier.
      Vehicle Dealers
      Vehicle Dealers recorded a small (less than 0.2%) increase in outlets from 2016 to 2021. This reversed a trend of declining Dealer locations in the years after the Great Recession of 2008.
      Asian nameplates have been the most successful in expanding their Dealer counts.
      Outlet Groups Declining in Number
      Service Stations & Garages, Tire Dealers, Discount Stores/Mass Merchandisers with bays, and Retail Auto Parts Stores with bays all fell in outlet count over the past five years.
      Service Stations & Garages
      Service Stations & Garages were battered by a significant population loss from 2016 to 2021, down by approximately 13,000 locations.
      This represented most of the repair outlets lost over these five years. Nevertheless, Service Stations & Garages remain the most prevalent type of DIM outlet.
      Tire Stores
      There were approximately 800 fewer Tire Stores in the U.S. at mid-year 2021 than five years earlier.
      Small Tire Stores suffered the brunt of this decline as growing competition from large, multi-outlet operations pushed many of them out of the market.
      Discount Stores/Mass Merchandisers & Auto Parts Stores with Bays
      The closing of hundreds of Sears Auto Centers nationwide contributed to the decline of Discount Stores/Mass Merchandisers with bays, which has been ongoing since 2011.
      The falling number of Auto Parts Stores with bays between 2016 and 2021 continued a trend that has been underway for several decades.
      COVID-19 Impact
      Most of the DIFM outlet loss between 2016 and 2021 occurred over the past two years (2020 and 2021), reflecting the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting changes in consumers’ vehicle repair behavior.
      Changes in the populations of the major types of DIFM outlets will continue, creating challenges and opportunities for a variety of aftermarket players.
      Six Major Takeaways
      The number and complexity of cars and light trucks in operation have continued to increase. Nevertheless, the population of repair outlets handling cars and light trucks fell by approximately 14,000 over the past five years (2016 to 2021).   Despite the loss of car and light truck repair outlets between 2016 and 2021, three of the seven major groups of DIFM outlets expanded their populations: Repair Specialists, Foreign Specialists, and Vehicle Dealers.   The number of Repair Specialists climbed by approximately 350 between 2016 and 2021, and approximately 700 Foreign Specialists locations were added. Vehicle Dealers posted a modest increase in number, reversing a trend of vanishing locations that began during the Great Recession of 2008.   Service Stations & Garages suffered the most significant outlet loss from 2016 to 2021. The populations of Tire Stores, Discount Stores/Mass Merchandisers with bays, and Auto Parts Stores with bays also were battered during these years.   The growing number and complexity of cars and light trucks in operation provide challenges and opportunities for the shrinking population of light vehicle repair outlets across the country. They must become more technically capable and productive to keep pace with the growing volume and complexity of vehicle repairs.   See the all-new 2023 Lang Aftermarket Annual for the only ten-year analysis of the population changes sweeping across the seven major types of auto repair outlets in the U.S.
      View full article
    • By TTP

      Premium Member Content 

      This content is hidden to guests, one of the benefits of a paid membership. Please login or register to view this content.

    • Advertise your services or products to passers-by attracting them towards your business
    • By Joe Marconi
      In my 41-year career as a shop owner, I think that at least 80% of that time I experienced what I called, the Unexpected Wake-Up Call at 2:00 am.
      I would go over and over all the things that happened throughout the day, and what I needed to do tomorrow. For me, it was the uncertainty of the next day, and what fire I would need to put out that troubled me the most. 
      I know you have those nights too, so let's share a little.  What Keeps You Up at Night? 

  • Similar Tagged Content

  • Our Sponsors

  • Create New...