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Robbie last won the day on April 2 2018

Robbie had the most liked content!

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About Robbie

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    Occasional Poster

Business Information

  • Business Name
    Stillwater Automotive
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Manager
  • Automotive Franchise
  • Website
  • Banner Program
    Napa Car Care
  • Participate in Training
  • Certifications
    3 ASE Master Technicians<br />ASA Membership

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  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Things are going pretty well so far. Our coach has been very helpful, but the ATI training classes have been the biggest benefit so far. Their shop owner class is amazing and should be required coursework for anybody that wants to run a shop. The guys at ATI are extremely good at debunking industry myths and using the numbers to prove which practices are best. They talk a lot about "charging correctly" for your work. I'm glad we made the decision to join, and I expect to get a lot more from the program in terms of operational and organization help. If you have any specific questions or would like to discuss it, feel free to shoot me a message. Robbie
  5. We use a LanAir oil burner. We've had it for about 6 years and have had very little trouble with it. You do have to service them about once a year. As you can imagine, burning used motor oil leaves a lot of deposits in the burner housing. We've found that transmission fluid burns best, so we try to empty our trans flush machine into the oil burner.
  6. I'm looking for some kind of electric or pneumatic machine that will pump gear oil into differentials as well as fill up transfer cases and transmissions that have to be filled from underneath. Ideally, it would have a small reservoir that could be easily cleaned to switch between fluids and would have a small pump to pump the fluid up and into the diff/TC/Trans. I've looked at some different fluid exchange machines - BG has a differential machine that might do the trick, and I've looked a couple of similar machines online. The problem I'm running into with the machines I've found are that the reservoirs are very large and aren't easily removed for cleaning. I would like to be able to fill up a differential with 75w-140 and then quickly clean the reservoir and use the same machine to put AutoTrak II into the transfer case. Anybody have any experience with this or know of a good piece of equipment? Thanks in advance.
  7. We signed the papers with ATI earlier this week and will start working with their coach over the next few weeks. I'll try to keep you guys posted on how things go. We've taken the plunge financially, so hopefully it will pay off.
  8. I have no idea about cancelling mid-term, but I'm pretty sure they wont let you do the shop "Re-engineering" program without attending their classes in Maryland. I believe most of the classes are designed so you can fly out on tues/wednesday and be back home by friday afternoon.
  9. I think Joe's strategy of warning customers about warranty companies beforehand is of the utmost importance. If you set the customer's expectations and let them know that they'll be left with whatever charges the warranty company wont pay, there's little chance they'll blame you when the prediction comes true.
  10. I've been to one of their seminars, and the advice they gave me was spot on. I didn't sign up for their coaching program after I went, but I did implement a lot of the strategies they teach on my own and I have seen huge gains in just one year. I'm pondering signing up for their coaching program after sending my Dad to another class last weekend, and I would love to hear the specifics of why people were unhappy or happy with their program.
  11. Thanks! Were the labels you were using with the Brother printer the static-cling glass stickers or did they use an actual adhesive? Were you able to print your shop logo using the printer or did you buy pre-printed labels to feed it?
  12. I'm looking to buy a printer to make custom oil change labels. I would also like the printer to have the versatility to print different types of labels as Oklahoma requires some specific labels for CNG conversions. I've found lots of systems when googling "oil change stickers" but they all seem to be $300-400 printers marked up to $700ish. I'd rather buy the printer and media myself if possible. Does anybody have a setup they're happy with? Thanks in advance.
  13. 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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