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RO's and Invoices - The paper monster


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I was performing the fun filled task of filing last months invoices. What my shop does is print an additional copy of the paid invoice and staple it to the repair order along with the vehicle check list. I was thinking of how much work it was to keep all of these papers. I thought of how many times I actually had to go to this file cabinet and look for an old invoice. Why the hell am I going through all this work? Why do I need all these drawers of signed invoices?


What is your shops procedure? How long do you keep invoices?


I did some math and on average each car uses at least 6 pieces of paper. (RO, checklist, 3 invoices, Marketing letter, occasional reprint of RO)


We blow through over 1,000 pieces of paper a week. An astounding 10 cases a year.


What ever happened to "Get a computer, it will make your life easier?"

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Last year we had a state sales tax audit and had to produce invoices for the previous 7 years. That took us three months to pull it all together and organize it. I save everything for at least 7 years before discard.


What prompted this audit? Sounds terrifying, and I'd like to avoid it at all costs.


In regards to paper, our POS system and CC system is linked together. So, in theory, we could go completely paperless with the exception of the customer receipt. However, we print a copy for ourselves, which they sign and we file away.


I just chuck all the signed receipts into a manilla envelope every month, and stick it in a cabinet. Same with delivery and parts paperwork.


...hope we never need to take them back out of the cabinet like XRAC...

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Our customers dramatically reduce paper use with our mobile technology, which allows shops to text/email invoices to customers and carry out multi-point inspections on a tablet. All of the information collected automatically transmits into your shop management system, eliminating the need to write it down on an RO. Let me know if you have any questions or would like more information.

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MITCHELL 1 backs up all invoices remotely. I play it safe and back up to 2 different USB drives, kept in separate locations. I keep absolutely no copies of invoices, ROs, or Estimates. I use Mike's Bolt On software, so unless the customer wants a printed invoice, we email it to them.

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If you are asking me, then the answer is no. Having them sign an invoice kinda seems pointless to me actually. Now an estimate or RO would make more sense, but even then, nothing gets added to a ticket unless it is authorized by the customer, so it's still a mute point. We run credit cards over the phone all the time with no signature.


Worst case scenario I can think of would be a customer saying they didn't authorize some work you performed. If that's true, then it is your fault, regardless of signatures. If it is not your fault and the customer DID in fact approve the work, then you should have it documented when and how they approved the work and you should be fine. Has worked for me so far

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We also do not worry too much about customers signatures. I can count on one hand, in ten years, how many times there has been an issue to where I wish I had a signed work order. Having a signed work order is good, except if they have an issue after they already okay'd work over the phone. The up-sold work doesn't have a signature. I guess it has its ups and downs. I do like the idea of having an outside hard drive or server to back up my accounting!

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I save a hard copy of the printed invoice with the credit card slip stapled to it. The customer gets one, I get one. Habit i guess. I have filing cabinets full in chronological order. Computer saves it plus I save it, there's maybe 20 signatures total on 5000+ invoices.


I went to small claims once, I lost because the customer didn't sign the repair order and I couldn't produce it. City guy thought $200 was too much to pay for me to put a power steering pump on his plow truck. Court said no signature = no obligation to pay. I lost $250. $200 plus his $50 court fee. Oh well I got over it.


The correct way to conduct business is have the customer sign when they bring in the car, document the phone conversation for the approval, sign when they pick up the car. I don't do any of that, I'm in a small town. I trust my customers, they trust me, no problems 99.99% of the time. They all sign the credit card slip, seems unnatural not to.

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Now that I think back, I started having my customers sign the invoice because of a very dishonest SA. She would print a copy of the RO as a receipt and hand it to the customer. As soon as the customer left she would lower the price and then invoice it. She would pocket the difference.


I always thought she was accurate because she was counting the drawer several times a day.


LESSON FOR ALL TO LEARN: When someone is counting the drawer during the day they are not counting your money. They are count their money.


Years later we were moving the service counter and found money in all different denominations inside the counter. These bills missed her purse which she use to place in a little slot near the pc and fell into the counter.

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I rarely have a customer sign an invoice. We print a finished invoice on paper with color for customer and one on blank paper for us. After "end of day summary" is completed with shop management program we staple all of our copies for that day with the end of day summary. We do not file them but we do retain them in orderly fashion in a legal size archive box with dates - From 6/1/14 to 12/31/14. Each day is also backed up on a thumb drive. We file all receipts for purchases from suppliers in a A to Z file folder and use a new one every month. This system has served us well with no problems to date. As far as I am concerned the time and effort put into customer signatures outways the potential loss if one occurs.

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For as little issues we have with customers signatures, we don't worry about to much. Now, the only time I ever ask for a signature is when the customer has an extended warranty. A long time ago I was at another repair shop where we got custom to getting signatures on everything, but this was only because of the shadiness of the customers that walked through the door. Some customers, unfortunately, will try to scam you.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm a little late to this party but I figured I would throw my .02 in. We have our customers sign an invoice. We scan it and file it electronically in the management system. We then take the hard copy and put it in a "numbered accordion" style folder and use that for telephone follow up three days after delivery. It's actually easier and faster than using the computer for followup calls. Once the call is made we shred it. All parts invoices associated with a repair order is scanned and filed with the electronic repair order. The only "paper' we have currently are our EOM vendor parts statements which we file and keep. Looking at several systems to eliminate that paper also. Our server has hot swap-able drives with a "mirrored" drive which we "try" and keep one off site at all times. We also use nightly scheduled online backups with Rackspace. I am currently using RO Writer as our management system but I am not convinced that it is the platform for the feature as I feel it is a little behind in features. I have been using it for about 10yrs. I think they should be integrating the use of i-pads for authorization signatures and invoice signatures. They have some new i-pad features but it is pretty limited. I am not sure why it's so difficult being that the backend database is really pretty simple and straight forward. I guess there is not enough people screaming for it yet. I'm pretty adamant about signatures because they become very important for bad check collection although we might get 2 a year. I've had only one instance regarding a credit card signature. So yes the signature is "because that's they way we've always done it" mentality. I would much rather they sign an i-pad and email it to them.


We do have video cameras 16 to be exact. We use them for several things and one of them being training and reviewing how many wasted steps or conversations happen in a routine day. Autovitals has helped reduce that. Parts trucks backing into vehicles. Retracing steps. It's just a watchdog and the employees know we have them and are totally fine with them.

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I didn't see where you were going to have a booth at the automechanika show. If you are going to have a booth and I just missed it let me know as I will stop by. I will have to schedule a time to review the product/s. I did visit your website and get a brief overview of the products. I did like the kisok product although I would not have my customers perform that function at this time.

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Hi Marksas,


We are not exhibiting at the automechanika show. However, our team could do a live demo of our products on a date and time that works for you. That would give you a good overview of the software's features and capabilities. Plus, our products fully integrate with RO Writer. Please let us know if you have any questions or would like to set up a demo. Thanks!

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