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At a recent NAPA Autocare symposium, we got an in-depth look at Auto Vitals. At that same show, my son won a hefty door prize which we asked to trade in on a "starter kit" for AV. NAPA hooked us up with two Ipad Minis with Otterbox covers and a gift card to cover a big chunk of the install.

 

My plan is to document our experience here in this topic. This is NOT a sales pitch as we have no idea how the system performs in daily use. They guarantee it will raise your ARO. As I have documented on the forum previously, we have used an automated courtesy check program for the past seven or eight years, but it's not a StarWars grade system with tablets, cloud, cameras, etc. Plus AV will give our writers a "command console" that interfaces with ROWriter and feeds work to the techs on their tablets.

 

So far, I have set up the two Ipad minis. Like a dope, On the first one I also upgraded it to IOS 8. Guess what? AV is not compatible with IOS yet, and will not run. On the other mini, that I didn't upgrade, it loaded and runs fine. So I have to figure out how to back the first one down. We will eventually need at least four more tablets and I plan to mix it up between androids and ipads. I have actually run the Digital Vehicle Inspection on my Samsung smart phone, but the added real estate of a tablet is helpful. The app is available out on the Apple store and Google Play store for free. AutoVitals Paperless Back shop.

 

Yesterday they remoted in to our servers and loaded up their program that interfaces with RO Writer. I not only pulls history but it puts techs' findings back into ROW. On the tablet, the tech sees vehicle history and current maintenance requirements. This should prevent us recommending services we performed last month! For some reason, it takes a week to ten biz days to get us set up to actually turn on the console, so we are in wait mode.

 

They have a series of webinars that take users down a progressive path to learn the system.

 

More to follow...

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Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive with Auto Vitals. Since we started using them in May our ARO is up $59.09. Our customer's love the reports, the techs are doing more consistent inspections - quicker than paper inspections. The service advisers have all the info they need right on their computer at the front desk. Moving to Auto Vitals has been one of the best investments we've made for our business.

I was try to get the OK from ATI to have Auto Vitals present at our next 20 group meeting. Do you have any interest in that?

 

If anyone has questions about Auto Vitals, give me a call at 603-434-2730. And No, I am not selling for them. I just feel very strongly that this type of an inspection program can leapfrog your business substantially past the competition.

 

I know Bolt-On does an excellent job and there are several others out there that may work for your individual shop, but I strongly recommend that you guys check out this technology.

Russ

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mspec,

yes for the first question. AV will also track techs time.

Sort of for the second. Depending on the canned jobs you have, AV will populate into the SMS. This integration has been enhanced significantly over the last few months and AV continues to make "Smart Flow" a truly useful tool for shop management.

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The key to remember when considering any type of shop management system add-on is whether or not the software truly integrates with your shop management system. Bolt On Technology's products fully integrate with shop management systems, meaning you do not need to re-enter the information back into your management system. Information auto populates into your management system following a VIN scan, license decode, etc., without any effort on your part. That is not the case in every instance with our competitors.

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Mike - I'm glad you are participating. Competition is a wonderful thing! It keeps us all on our toes and improves the breed. i lay awake at night wondering how to do better than the shop down the street and I'm sure you do the same. We all need to keep honing that edge. I plan to hold nothing back on my eval of AV, so you will have the benefit of my critique.

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Mark, I assume "First Landing AutoCare" is you.

 

I am glad you get the word out, your AutoVitals product advisor is Brian and he will lead you through the onboarding. And since you are mentioning it. The most important thing about a smooth configuration is to set up your workflow in SmartFlow. The onboarding is in three steps/webinars:

1. How to do inspections fast and comprehensively

2. How to create/modify a highly effective inspection sheet as well as detect pencil whipping and over-recommending.

3. How to run SmartFlow and get completely paperless.

 

this will take place in the next two weeks.

For the third portion it is helpful to have documentation about your current workflow. Could you send us any documentation you might have?

 

Uwe

Edited by Oova At Autovitals
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Had our first training session today in an AV webinar. Good start. Also had a long phone conversation last night with the head man that left me feeling god about their commitment to support their users. Tonight I went into our AV web portal and configured one of our shops. Lots of options that we will need to become familiar with. A pleasant surprise was the acceptance we heard from our techs and SWs during and after the training. I think they see this as beneficial for their daily lives.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Things are moving along now. They finished doing the magic that allows AV to talk to ROW, so now as our writer enters new tickets in ROW they automatically appear on the tech's tablet. While we were waiting, the techs began doing some practice Digital Vehicle Inspections and, in general, it seems that they and the writers are enthusiastic and looking forward to integrating this into our daily routine. I was skeptical about customer interest in photos of their tie rod ends etc. but I'm becoming a believer.

 

Biggest pain has been configuring the iPad minis. It's not an AutoVitals issue, it's just the complexity of our techno-world. I set up the first ones using my personal info such as email address,etc. but then I found that techs could get into my email, google+ etc. So I ended up resetting the pad back to factory specs. Then I created a new gmail account for each pad. This was complicated by the fact that we use a google apps domain and account for our office system. It's a grand-fathered free account that apparently won't let me add google play as a service. Well, you have to get to play to get the AV app for android devices. So I just created plain old gmail accounts for each pad and used that as my Apple ID and password on the minis. I mentioned in an earlier post that the AV app was not compatible with Apple IOS 8, but that has been resolved. Our support guy at AV pointed me at refurbished minis on the apple site for $219. They look and act like new.

 

Writers got into the workflow screen and are already tailoring stuff to their preferences. We have sat through a couple webinars that are very informative. Now that we have some hands-on, we will probably get the writers and techs to sit through them again to squeeze a little more juice out of them.

 

I think next week we will go full bore.

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Mark,

thanks again for reporting here. I'd like to invite everybody for our webcast next week on Thursday, when the four shop owners featured below will share their recipe for success. Everyone of them have increased their ARO by at least 20%. They all use SmartFlow to various degrees.

 

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Brian Bates, Dan Garlock, Russ Hilliard and Bill Connor.

 

Register Here for the webinar!

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Update. We went full bore with digital inspections and Workflow this week and it has gone surprisingly smoothly. I take resistance to change as inevitable, but we haven't seen it. The writers and techs seem to welcome the new technology and the resulting reports. We have an on-site trainer who works with our sales staff part time. Doesn't know cars, just knows sales techniques and he is blown away with the inspection report as a sales tool. Writers are emailing reports to customers. It's early, but we're off to a good start.

 

One tech was successfully doing DVIs on a Samsung Nexus 4, kind of a minimal tablet. A handicap with the ipad mini (and all tablets ?) is the lack of a flash for photos. It's pretty dark under a car and, while the tablet has excellent low light capability, the shutter speed slows down making it difficult to get a sharp picture. Other techs help by holding a flashlight on the offending part while the picture is taken.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think I can report that our switch to digital inspections is a complete success. We are still fine-tuning our inspection reports to maximize the impact for the customer, but techs and service writers have fully adopted the process, the hardware and the program.

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  • 3 months later...

All is going well with our Autovitals effort. The tablets (4 Ipad minis) are holding up well in the shop. We took a chance on a no-name android tablet that was $79.95 at Sam's club and it works fine, but there is no protective cover that fits it well. One of our Service Advisors has become totally dependent on the desktop workflow display. Our other shop has been slow to embrace it. We are now e-mailing digital inspection reports directly to the customers as soon as the techs submit them. We perform the inspections on about 80% of our car count. The techs really like being able to take pictures of broken stuff on the cars. As soon as the SA completes the estimate, it is e-mailed as well. There were some problems with the program being slow and unresponsive, but something they did up-line recently solved the problem. We haven't needed much customer support, but when we do our dedicated support guy is right there to help.

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Bstewart - that is a great question and one I would like to be able to answer, but we have a number of ongoing efforts to increase ARO, sales, and GP, so it is probably impossible to attribute improvement to any one piece of it. Like any job you take on, you want the best tool to handle that job, and SO FAR, AV appears to be a great tool for digital inspections and shop workflow. What has had more impact on ARO and sales has been our emphasis on selling maintenance by mileage including "catch-up" maintenance. We use every tool in our arsenal to insure that each customer leaves with a total picture of the condition of their vehicle. We are also stressing training on sales presentation both over the phone and over the counter. We have a part-time sales consultant who trains and monitors our advisors. You might be thinking that this results in a very hardcore experience for our customers, but we put equal emphasis on making our customers' experience a pleasant one and our reviews reflect that. It's a tough balancing act, but a rewarding one. But your question has reminded me that I need to poll my techs and advisors on their individual impressions of the system. More to follow.

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  • 2 weeks later...

At the request of a business associate, we sat through a demo of Autosense1 today. Similar in concept to Autovitals, but not as fully developed. they have a similar workflow screen for SAs. Techs use tablets to generate vehicle inspections and can take photos and movies of the vehicle. They have a collection of tailored inspections, but you can't create/edit your own inspections. Also, it does not display vehicle history from your management system. They do have a cool function that lets the SA conduct a meeting with the customer online to review findings. You can print the inspection, but they really don't emphasize it and they expect you to review it on a computer screen with the customer. Cumbersome. Price is competitive. If you are thinking about jumping into digital visual inspections, you should take a look at this alongside Autovitals.

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I would prefer if you would sign up to exhibit at the upcoming Virginia Automotive Association convention trade show and introduce your product to shops from all over Virginia. The show is 24-26 April in Williamsburg. Any vendors that are interested should call the Executive Director, Steve Akridge at (804)467-5556 - soon.

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  • 6 months later...

Another update on our Autovitals experience. Over the last couple of weeks we have committed to going paperless in our internal work flow. Previously we put emphasis on improving what was already a pretty good vehicle inspection program by getting all techs on tablets with customized inspection checklists. Two weeks ago we installed 42 inch touchscreen monitors on the wall at each shop in place of the board that formerly held our work order clip boards. Last week a trainer from Autovitals came in and spent a day with the staff at both shops tying everything together, fine tuning the inspection scripts to our needs and showing the SAs what a powerful tool this is to help them sell. There was, of course, some resistance from some quarters, but we work hard at getting employee buy-in and it's hard for them to resist the lure of more work int he bays and more commish in their checks. An added benefit is that managers can be anywhere in the world and get an instant picture of shop and tech loading and spot problem children that need to be dealt with. AV displays a wealth of data about each car in the Smartflow program.

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Mark, thanks for the feedback. Based on the feedback from dozens of shops owners we conducted the onsite training with, it is a smashing success. It is actually a 5 week program, where best practices and a Standard Operating Procedure is defined, introduced and monitored: from internet equipment over proper inspection practices and how to sell them. Just one visit doesn't change the world, but developing muscle memory does.

 

Or as the ATI coach for the group reported: "I have to share a quick story from a conversation with a shop owner this morning: he has a top-flight advisor that has always carried strong sales.. his only weakness has been selling fluid services. On an average 40 car count they usually averaged 1-3 services converted a week. In the 2 weeks since [the AutoVitals trainer] was at the shop optimizing the setup and training the staff, the shop has converted 19 fluid services and 23 fluid services respectively! Now that is a change in performance!!!"

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The on-site training was not free. I'm not going to quote prices - you need to ask Autovitals about that. Our trainer was a shop owner who sold his shop in San Diego, bought another shop in CA and runs it remotely from Raleigh, NC. Definitely and expert at shop management and Autovitals functionality and it was obvious he was fired up about what he was doing. He worked his butt off while he was here, training in group mode, one-on-one, and modifying inspection scripts. We've always had a problem with techs not following a process on complex diagnostic jobs, so we worked with him to develop a script that, if followed, should stop techs from taking a WAG at what expensive part they should change.

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Is this affordable for a small two tech shop?

 

Hi Handson,

 

The affordability for this type of technology is never a problem. On average, shops increase their ARO anywhere from 20-45%. It’s not uncommon at all to pay the monthly cost in just 1 repair order, making each other repair order all profit—every single month.

 

See for yourself:

 

http://boltontechnology.com/tag/mobile-manager

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkUX2-kT4l4&list=PL3GPeuXxDSLH36Ha-FQcH40VFRElB5z_W&index=1

 

Let me know if you have any other questions.

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Hi LMCCA,

 

Our technology ranges between $99-299 a month depending on the package. We have no contracts whatsoever, and have a 30 day money back guarantee.

 

We demo our technology live, one-on-one with every shop, and offer reduced prices when bundling.

 

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

 

If anyone would like to see a live demo, give us a call - 610-400-1019

 

Hope this helps.

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LMC

There are a number of ways to use Auto Vitals services. If you are a NAPA Auto Care, you can get a stand alone electronic inspection platform for a one time fee of about $300 I think. When you start looking at a version that is integrated to you shop management software it's another charge. If you are looking at the Smart Flow, it is another charge. I am using Auto Vitals for our customer retention marketing(in place of Demand Force), they are supporting our Facebook page and Google + page, and are creating our new web site, in addition to the electronic inspection platform and the Smart Flow. It is not inexpensive, but I find it is a good investment for me and my shop. The total package I am on is about $1400 per month.

 

To get the best information, you should talk with someone directly from Auto Vitals to see what may work for your shop.

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Lmcca,

 

I'd like us to look at value of a service for a moment before assessing it by cost only. Assume your ARO gets increased by $50 in addition to the $200 ARO you might experience today and before using AutoVitals you have 200 appointments a month. I am using numbers, which are low. Real numbers are higher. Then the CRM system with built-in call, email and postcard campaigns and Loyalty Point system increases the number of appointments by 10% we are now at 20*$250 = $5,000. Then the customer acquisition gets you 10 more new customers a month than today. That is an immediate value of $2,500 and an increased retention value depending on your retention rate. In a nutshell you get 200 appointment with $50 higher ARO and 30 additional appointments with $250 ARO, not counting the future visits of new customers. Is this convincing?

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I get where LMCCA is coming from, a small shop that does low number and volume like mine it's crazy to think about that kind of money. For me as a single person shop I find it impossible to do the numbers that allow real profitibility. But thanks to this forum it's something I'm working on.

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