What do customers who drive into an auto repair shop want most?
Quick and high-quality repairs? Of course!
Digitized/mobile service? More often than not.
Delivering all this can give you a competitive advantage while your profitability will skyrocket too.
How to achieve that?
You need the right auto repair shop software…
Importance of Automotive Repair Software
A management software for auto repair shops can automate many of their daily operations. It can save a ton of time by speeding up repetitive tasks like appointment scheduling, jobs tracking, vehicle diagnostics, repair estimating, parts ordering, etc. You’d also have more streamlined work orders, invoicing, payment processing, and personnel/payroll management.
Organizing a repair shop involves keeping track of repair orders (ROs), vehicle/customer records, parts and inventory, invoices, prospect lists, technician schedules, customer appointments, and more. A software-based solution can help you do all this with greater efficiency. Moreover, you can save space by removing clutter – a laptop takes much less area compared to a filing cabinet(s).
How to Pick the Right System?
The right automotive repair software would have everything that your technicians and shop managers need to get the job done. Ideally, you need an “all-in-one” setup that covers the following aspects.
1. Appointment Scheduling
Scheduling an appointment shouldn’t take more than a couple of clicks, with your techs being able to see the assigned jobs straightaway. Some shop management systems also enable customers to set a service time themselves through an appointment link on your website.
Furthermore, you can keep your bays full by pre-scheduling appointments (both “routine” and “special service”). A sudden drop or rise in the number of appointments isn’t desirable, as it can affect technicians’ performance levels and shop profitability.
A suitable mechanic shop software would support pre-scheduling of appointments while automated service reminders (via text and email) can minimize customer “no-shows,” saving valuable time and minimizing “missed revenue.”
2. Estimates & Invoicing
An auto shop software can generate accurate estimates by reducing human error with regard to labor ratio, parts used, etc. In addition, the best systems accelerate approvals or rejections of recommended services through text messages.
This removes the uncertainty associated with calling a client to get an estimate approved. People don’t always answer their phones while the “open-rate” for text messages is around 90%. As a result, no one on your team will have to spend hours on the phone explaining the recommended services. Similarly, no vehicle will remain unattended in your shop for too long as you wait for the owner to pick up the phone or call you back!
Once an estimate has been approved, creating an invoice and forwarding it to the customer should be an instant process. AutoLeap, an all-in-one shop management software, allows you to send invoices in just 2 clicks – speeding up the payment cycle considerably.
Speaking of payments, a top-of-the-line automotive repair software will have an integrated point-of-sale (POS) setup that accepts credit cards, debit cards, cash, etc.
4. Digital Vehicle Inspections (DVIs)
Digital vehicle inspections (DVIs) allow you to share photos and videos of a car’s faulty parts/areas. In contrast to a tedious manual diagnosis, DVIs are quick and informative. You can use them to effortlessly explain everything to a customer, thereby building trust and making the approval of recommended services more likely.
5. Work Order Management
A top-notch automobile repair shop software makes it easy to use canned services. They help owners and shop managers understand which jobs are more in demand and generating the most revenue. You can then focus on improving service around those jobs to boost profitability.
Assigning work orders and updating customers about job status is also fairly simple with the right mechanic shopsoftware. You can do that via text and email, attaching pictures and videos both for their knowledge and your shop’s records.
6. Inventory Management & Parts Ordering
The finest shop management solutions allow real-time inventory monitoring. They can also connect the shop with their preferred vendor catalogs online. In this way, aftermarket parts and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) items can be easily ordered. Automatic reordering (in case of low inventory) is also possible with some systems.
7. VIN Decoder & Plate Lookup
A smart auto repair business software includes VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) decoding and license plate analysis tools, enabling you to pull up the complete repair history of a vehicle and keep track of past services.
8. Performance Tracking
To analyze progress effectively, you need to invest in an automotive repair software that clearly displays relevant KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on a dashboard. By tracking these KPIs (cost per hour, parts margin, labor margin, billable labor rates, gross margin, labor productivity – hours worked & billed, etc.), you can find out where the shop is losing money and which services have a greater profit margin.
9. Customer Management
Tired of having to maintain stacks of paper files on past jobs and long-time customers?
You can get rid of that painstaking chore with an effective auto shop management system. It will enable online maintenance (on a cloud-based or other kind of storage platform) of your entire customer service history. As a result, technicians will find it easier to get up to speed about the condition of any vehicle.
10. Customer Experience
The goal of any auto repair software must be two-fold: simplify the life of repair shop personnel and boost customer experience. The best systems have features specifically designed for the latter.
Estimate approvals via text and email are one such example. Same goes for a digital customer directory which enables shops to deliver more personalized service – like greeting clients by name or offering unique service discounts (40% off on every 4th oil change).
What advertising options should form a part of your mechanic shop’s marketing plan?
The right automotive repair software will provide detailed insights which you can use to design effective ad campaigns, resultantly bringing in quality leads.
11. Automated Review Requests
Some shop management setups have built-in message templates to request customer reviews. Others send automated reminders along with a review link (Google, Yelp, Capterra, etc.) when providing job updates or forwarding invoices. Top-tier systems like AutoLeap even allow shop owners to cherry pick the customers that can review them!
Adding review requests to your shop’s daily workflow will enhance your online brand identity. It will also show prospective customers that you’re the real deal when it comes to automotive repair.
Many repair shop management systems support integration with other useful tools, specifically accounting systems like QuickBooks and vehicle history cataloging services like Carfax. The former can streamline invoicing, payables, receivables, and payroll while the latter provides hassle-free access to specific vehicle data (services needed by a car, recommended past repair jobs, etc.).
Do you feel that, as an auto repair shop owner, you need to be aware of and in control of every aspect of your business?
A strong back-office setup powered by user-friendly and feature-rich software can help you do that. Use the tips outlined in this piece to pick the right mechanic shop management system.