Does Your Management Software Put You In The Driver’s Seat? – UnderhoodService

Does Your Management Software Put You In The Driver’s Seat?

A shop management system is simply a tool for you to be productive, efficient and profitable.

I’ve been a shop owner and coach for 34 years. I was around for the days of handwritten ROs, and I’ve witnessed the shift to today’s cloud-based systems. I’ve experienced the pain of selecting a new system only to regret the decision and the setbacks it caused. While we won’t discuss any specific management systems here, I will lay out some things to think about as you look to improve your shop’s operations.

A shop management system is simply a tool for you to be productive, efficient and profitable. If your current system fits that bill, then wisely consider the decision to change.

A Coach’s Perspective

“What’s the best shop management software?”

John Wafler, a leading industry coach, says he gets that question “all the time.”

“My answer is always the same: ‘It’s the one you have right now!’” Wafler explains. “Typically, the change from one system to another costs twice as much and takes twice as long as you anticipated.”

Wafler is right. Like the smartphone that we have in our pocket, purse or belt, we don’t use the bulk of its capabilities. So ask yourself: Is it the same with my management system? Have I taken all the training and maximized its abilities?

A Shop Owner’s Perspective

“Make a list of your ‘gotta haves,’” says AJ Nealey of Nealey Auto Service in Edgewater, Maryland.

Nealey is in the middle of searching for his next system. He started out years ago using Excel, but over the last five years, Nealey has been using a desktop-based, multi-user, dedicated shop management system. He is in the initial stages of his search.

“I want any new system that I bring in to improve on what I currently have,” Nealey explains. “If it doesn’t, then there’s no need to change.”

He adds: “I can’t rush this. I will need to find a piece of software that checks off all the boxes. I also plan on going to AAPEX this fall to interact with a few systems before I make my decision.”

Some Criteria

What should you look for in a new shop management system?

Here are a few suggestions:

It should be cloud-based. A cloud-based system will allow you to access your shop from anywhere, create estimates, view history and review work in progress at any time. If you have a multi-shop operation, then visibility of customer history is readily available from any location.

• The system needs to be intuitive and fast. Remember, you’re not the only one using the software.

• Will the new system integrate with all of your current catalogs, labor guides and third party add-ons, such as lube-sticker printer, digital-inspection software or KPI software?

• Is it easily scalable? Can you add new users and locations with ease?

• Is there good training up front and is tech support available during your operating hours? (This is one of the most important criteria.)

• Can your existing customer data be imported easily?

• Will the system provide you with an easy-to-read set of KPIs? Will it integrate with a KPI system that you’re currently using, such as the SOC scorecard?

• Will it integrate with your accounting software?

• Does it have a workflow system or allow third-party integration?

Final Thoughts

If you decide to make the change, don’t take the salesman’s word that the system you’re leaning toward is everything you need. They don’t operate a shop like you do. Go visit a shop that has the system in operation and have the advisors who’ve been using it show you what it can do. Ask them how steep the learning curve was. Then spend some time with the shop owner to see what the reporting side is like. You might ask him or her, “If you had to do it all over again, would you have made the same decision?”

Article courtesy Shop Owner magazine.

You May Also Like

Keep On Rockin’ Into The New Year

Nominations are still open for Vehicle Care Rockstars!

True story: Last night, I was at a Japanese Hibachi-style restaurant with my family. Our chef was chopping, dicing, slicing, sauteeing and generally wowing the entire table with his knife and spatula skills when I noticed him paying less attention to the steak and shrimp on the griddle before him than to the shirt I was wearing.

Being Happy Gets In The Way of Being Successful

Bryce Kenny says his greatest satisfaction comes from helping others to find the courage to chase their dreams.

Quality Triumphs!

We interact with our cars differently and today’s parts quality matters more than ever.

Putting Yourself First For Safety

Shop safety policies and procedures are only as good as those following them. Make sure you’re watching out for you!

It Ain’t Bragging If You Can Back It Up

For the great work they do, shop owners like Harrison Keyes talk less about “me” and more about “us.”

Other Posts

Charging for Diagnostic Time

Diagnostic work is more sophisticated and your techs’ time is worth charging for. This video is sponsored by Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper.

The November Digital Edition of ShopOwner Is Here

Every issue includes technical and marketing information from ShopOwner channels.

The October Digital Edition Is Available Today

Each issue includes technical content from Underhood Service and other ShopOwner channels.

Why Is NHTSA Involved With RTR?

A closer look into NHTSA’s involvement with RTR.