Jim Steel Garage has already realised big benefits after going live in August with the garage management system.
Led by Kevin Steel and his son Sam, the family run Beeston-based business offers MOTs, servicing and repairs for all makes of vehicle.
Formerly a Unipart Car Centre, the business had been reviewing new management systems for several months until a visit from National Sales Manager Leo Freebairn led to them trying a demo site and opting to go with TechMan.
“The time tracking is really good and that’s helped with payroll,” said Kevin. “Sometimes before it was easier for staff to remember when they worked late rather than the times they’d finished early!”
The practice of technicians clocking onto jobs has also ensured labour time is charged to customers accurately. It’s also fundamentally shifted working practices.
“I can see what’s going on without having to go out into the workshop and ask which has helped us load our technicians better, we’re actually flowing more work through now which is great news.”
The business invested in low-cost tablets for all technicians. Before TechMan they were ‘getting through 1,000 pieces of a paper a week’ and now it’s ‘virtually none’ as information is instead inputted, accessed and shared from TechMan.
“We’ve cut down on loads of internal emails too, before we’d have pictures on phones being transferred and saved in different folders,” said Kevin.
Streamlining this has saved technicians time and been particularly beneficial on fleet work. Technicians now start with the job on their tablet, complete the check sheets and take any photos needed for work authorisation.
“We just send everything straight through the Epyx 1link system, when we need to look back on the history next time it’s all there with the customer and vehicle.”
The system’s text message reminders have also impressed, measurably reducing customer no-shows.
A final early time-saver has been better linking between TechMan and the company’s accounting system Xero.
“Previously I was exporting four different spreadsheets to then combine into the right format to import,” said Kevin. “With TechMan it’s just one export that goes straight into the accounts.”
The switchover process – which Kevin readily admits wasn’t an appealing prospect – proved painless. TechMan transferred 3 years worth of data, so the garage simply came in and used TechMan the next day.
“Switching has involved some work in adding parts prices but now we’re thinking about what we’re doing and getting it right,” said Kevin. “Oil stocks are managed differently so there are little things we’ve needed to change.”
Kevin describes the support as ‘excellent’ adding: “We needed some changes making to technicians’ job sheets; they just accessed our system remotely and watched what was done to see how to make changes ourselves for next time.
“The phone support has been good and they’ve invited us to visit them anytime in Northampton to see how they run TechMan in their garage.”
Kevin says the decision not to move earlier was down to ‘lack of time’ but quickly admits the benefits they’ve gained has already made TechMan a time-saver.