Product Test – Autodata Online 3

Product Test – Autodata Online 3

Having set up our own independent servicing and repair business around two years ago, myself and my business partner Rob always welcome the opportunity to try out any new systems, tools and equipment that can help us to run our garage more efficiently. Having previously worked in a franchised dealership arm of a well-known vehicle manufacturer, we were in the luxurious position of having all of the crucial servicing, repair and technical information required for these makes at our fingertips.

Now we face the similar array of challenges that all other independents throughout the country are experiencing when it comes to acquiring the data and know-how to undertake servicing work on all makes of vehicles. Hence our delight when we were offered the chance to trial Autodata’s Online 3 product for a few months.

Individual needs
The first thing that strikes you about Online 3 is that it is so easy to use. Once logged in, the various menus and tabs are clearly laid out and simple to navigate – particularly useful when you’re not the most computer-literate person on the planet. Each page has easily readable text and diagrams and once you’ve got to grips with the various icons and shortcuts you’ll find that you’re able to locate exactly what you’re after quickly and efficiently.

Every independent garage has individual needs in terms of what they require from a system like this but we can honestly say that all of the information included with Online 3 has been useful to us at some stage. Of course there are elements of the system that we use more than others and we’ve found particular solace in the service schedules, timing belt replacement intervals, ‘how-to-fit’ guides and repair times for a whole host of makes and models that have entered our garage.

We see our business as a genuine competitor to the VM franchised dealer so the service schedules are absolutely critical to us. These allow us to check everything by the book so we don’t affect the vehicle’s warranty, if indeed it comes to us within the customer’s warranty period. One of the other great inclusions, which has been a real help, is being able to immediately identify beforehand if any special timing tools are needed for a job, and if so, what tools we need to get our hands on. The ability to check repair times is brilliant as well because there have been many occasions in the past where we, and I’m sure other garages can sympathise, have fallen foul of thinking we have a simple job on our hands and it turns out to be a very different story. The way cars are put together these days, a ‘simple’ task is a very rare occurrence.

Online 3’s speed and flexibility are other endearing traits of the system. We have a computer in our reception area that we use for booking up jobs and once a customer rings us we are able to take down all of the necessary details before utilising Online 3 to check what is needed. We can then price up the job and rapidly call the customer back to let them know what needs doing. This is where the outstanding ‘VRM lookup’ service comes into the equation. This is my own personal favourite Online 3 function and allows us to enter the customer’s vehicle registration number into a search bar. Once identified, the system then retrieves all of the key vehicle data for you such as make/model, engine size, tyre data etc – a God-send when you consider the old adage that ‘time is money’.

Introducing an online solution has allowed Autodata to quickly and efficiently update vehicle data and we have been pleasantly surprised at how much quality information is available to the user. There is no doubt that plenty more additions to the system will appear in the future (I believe this year alone has seen the incorporation of battery disconnection and reconnection procedures for hybrids and clutch replacement instructions, to name a few). I can safely say that any independent garage will find this system a fantastic, value for money, investment for their business. I’ve nicknamed it my ‘stress reliever’ as any time we are stuck with a job and stressing out, Online 3 is the first thing we turn to.

Verdict: A great garage support product that will serve your business well!

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