Like it or not, the world we live in is becoming increasingly digitalised. For some time, the garage environment has been somewhat insulated from the trends in the wider world. Increasingly, however, conversation among techs and garages owners is turning to such new-fangled ideas as ‘garage management systems’, ‘online work providers’ and IT and software systems in general. Are you up to speed with what’s out there and what the benefits can be? PMM takes a look at some of the companies that are causing a stir.
TechMan out to continue growing in 2018
TechMan, the garage management system built by an independent garage, says record business growth in 2017 could be exceeded again this year. “We’re seeing a bit of a snowball effect,” Leo Freebairn, National Sales Manager at TechMan told PMM. “Where we once had a management system that garages hadn’t heard of, we now work with lots of great customers and are adding features continually, so the system itself is getting better too.”
“We had manually monitored our technician efficiency using whiteboards and Excel,” said Ben Dewar, Service Centre Manager at Newcastle Upon Tyne based Bosch Car Service Centre, Redgate Lodge. Overall efficiency seemed to be pretty good – generally at around 60% – but tracking and calculating it was quite a slow process.
“Since we installed TechMan, our technicians are now all at over 85% efficiency and because we can monitor their utilisation in real-time, our front of house staff can book the right daily work load in.”
Recent developments to the system itself have included the roll-out of a ‘web bookings’ feature in TechMan that enables garages to add a snippet of code to their website, allowing motorists to book work straight into TechMan, 24 hours a day.
It’s convenience that pays off for garages too; it not only saves administrative work but also saw one garage piloting the system generate profits from invoiced web bookings of £18,877 in under seven months.
Last year also saw Time Assist bring OEM vehicle repair times and 3.3 million VM part numbers with RRP prices into the system. This makes accurate quotation and job creation instant and enables independents to pitch prices more effectively to avoid under-selling work that might be very expensive at a main dealer.
Time Assist even has VM service schedules which can be loaded as electronic check sheets straight to technicians’ TechView tablets. More features are planned for 2018, and you can find out more by visiting www.techmangms.com.
Garage attributes recent success to WhoCanFixMyCar.com
Patrick Patel is the proud owner of Automotive Component Specialists, a garage based in Cheshunt, North London. The business has enjoyed phenomenal success over recent years and reputedly has an online platform, WhoCanFixMyCar.com, to thank for generating in excess of £650,000 since 2012.
Mr Patel is one automotive professional out of thousands to use the platform to connect with drivers online and provide detailed estimates on car repair and servicing. As of January 2018, WhoCanFixMyCar.com sent over 50,000 requests to UK garages – a number that has tripled since January 2017.
Automotive Component Specialists is one of the longest serving members of the platform and has grown from a small business into one of the most celebrated, decorated and recognised businesses out of the 11,000+ garages signed up to the provider.
Having worked in the automotive industry for over 15 years, it was a shock for Patrick to find himself out of work after being let go from his position as a technician at Audi in 2012. With mounting desperation, Patrick turned to the internet and came across WhoCanFixMyCar.com.
Patrick said, “I had a look at what WhoCanFixMyCar.com was offering and thought that I might be able to get myself out of the difficult situation I had found myself in. I had no idea that a platform like it existed.”
After signing up, there was no turning back. Patrick continues, “I logged in and there were all of these jobs just waiting to be quoted on. I couldn’t believe that I could connect with drivers instantly and earn money to keep myself going. It was a real lifeline.”
As of February 2018, Automotive Component Specialists had won over 700+ jobs, and Patrick no longer has to bring customers to his home. Instead he has recently opened a brand new garage, complete with five ramps and its own customer car park.
MAM Software reveals details of upcoming spring release for its garage software
MAM Software has released details of a forthcoming update for its garage management application, Autowork Online. Scheduled for release in spring 2018, the update will include several new enhancements designed to enable garages to increase upselling opportunities.
One of the key additions in the release is the new Good-Better-Best feature. Designed to be an effective upsell tool, Good-Better-Best will help garages increase average job value by creating a range of estimates to present to customers. Service advisors can present up to three options to reflect differences such as price, quality, brand or warranty.
Garage owners will be able to run reports to view revenue gained from Good-Better-Best sales and monitor upsell performance from individual staff members. Additional reports will provide a deeper insight into revenue gained from suggested jobs (from the CarSide electronic vehicle health check app or service advisor recommendations) and recovered work (from previously deferred jobs).
New functionality to clone and hide job groups will work in conjunction with Good- Better-Best, and will provide greater flexibility when creating and presenting estimates to customers.
In line with new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), the release will include new features to help garages become compliant with the new rules. This will include setting customer contact details to be opted out of communication by default and providing a new function to delete customer records on request.
Another new feature in the release will allow garages to gain more control over their margins by adjusting the integrated manufacturer repair times. The OE labour matrix can be used to automatically increase or decrease labour times by a percentage or fixed amount, based on a range and customer account type.
A new Returns Bin feature will help users save time while reliably tracking parts to be returned to suppliers. The feature streamlines the returns process automatically, recording the original purchase details for parts moved to the bin, where they are grouped by supplier ready for return. Return status and history can be easily checked and credits recorded, with full stock movement history.
“This forthcoming release further demonstrates our commitment to developing more features for the Autowork Online to help garages capitalise on job opportunities, simplify workflow and keep costs under control. We’re looking forward to sharing these new features with our customers in the spring,” said Gavin Sparks, Senior Sales Manager at MAM Software.