The auto repair industry is changing rapidly, from the cars you service to the labor market. Repairing cars has become a high-tech occupation. You’re as likely to see a technician using a laptop computer as a wrench.
That’s because modern vehicles are much more technologically advanced. Today, a starter car and a luxury car often sport the same sophisticated computer systems. Mechanical parts are going the distance, too.
This overall shift is letting drivers hold onto their vehicles longer. And it shows.
The average age of a car is now 11.8 years.
At the same time, the labor market is shrinking. Competition to hire qualified technicians is fierce. The average age of automotive service technicians is 39 years.
Plus, over 50% of independent auto repair shop owners expect to retire in the next nine years. With so much of the workforce nearing retirement, the pressure is on to find new talent.
What does this all mean for the average independent auto shop? You’re competing for a decreasing amount of business and labor.
You’re trying to:
- Attract new, tech-oriented technicians
- Provide better customer service
- Improve profit margins
When you’re facing all three of these challenges at once, auto repair software can’t be overlooked. Auto repair software allows your team to automate daily shop operations. You can also get greater insight into your shop’s performance. That lets you direct your energy toward vital profit-boosting activities.
Below, we break down what auto repair software is. Learn the need-to-know features and benefits of using auto shop management software.
Auto repair software overview
Auto repair software is feature-packed. It has everything shop owners, managers and technicians need to get the job done.
The most popular options are cloud-based. That means you can access your system from a mobile device (with an iPhone or Android app) or a computer, without installing anything. Your business information is also saved and backed up on the software provider’s servers.
If a computer breaks, you don’t have to worry about losing data.
Software speeds up everyday tasks like scheduling appointments, tracking jobs, diagnosing issues, estimating repairs and ordering parts. It also helps you streamline work orders, invoicing, payment processing and payroll.
Top-rated auto shop software includes MaxxTraxx, AutoFluent, Talus Pay (that’s us), Shop Boss, Shopware and Protractor. With most of these solutions, you pay a monthly subscription fee. Costs vary by user, number of devices, locations and more. Capterra also offers reviews and ratings on the best auto repair software.
You need a convenient and modern way to manage traditional tasks.
But what features should you look for? We’ll cover that next.
Top auto repair software features
Some software systems are virtual powerhouses. They offer an array of tools to run your auto repair business.
But these all-in-one management tools may have a price that’s out of reach for a small business. Others have a more limited scope, like focusing on labor management or inventory management.
We’ll go over the most common features in auto shop software so you can stay on the cutting edge of your industry. It’s up to you to determine which features are most important to your business.
- Payments: Accept credit cards, cash and other payment types using your point of sale (POS). You may be able to choose your own payment processor, or you may have to use the preferred provider for the software.
- Estimates & Invoicing: Generate accurate estimates with labor times, parts used and other details. Then send quotes to your clients. Create invoices digitally and get paid faster.
- Appointment Scheduling: Easily schedule service appointments with an online calendar. Customers can book appointments themselves through your website. Techs, meanwhile, can see their jobs online before they get to the shop. Set up service reminders to notify customers of an upcoming appointment via email or text. Or send them a gentle nudge when it’s time for a checkup.
- Inventory Management & Parts Ordering: See your inventory, surpluses and shortages in real-time. Connect your preferred vendor catalogs online for added convenience. Then order original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and aftermarket parts in minutes. Set up automatic parts reordering when inventory is low so you don’t forget a thing.
- Work Order Management: Create canned jobs and easily assign work orders. Quickly update your customers on job status with a text or email. You can attach pictures for internal records and share them with customers, too.
- VIN Decoder & Plate Lookup: Look up the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) for each job using a handy VIN decoder, or search by license plate.
- Labor Rates & Tracking: Manage technician time tracking and set cost per hour or billable rates.
- Customer Management: Ditch the paper files on customers and past jobs. Maintain an online customer service history so your technicians are up to speed before starting any job.
- Marketing: Take advantage of customer insights to create effective customer marketing and lead nurturing campaigns. (Need inspiration? Here’s a sample marketing plan for automotive repair shops.)
- Integrations: Most automotive software integrates with other useful business management tools. At the very least, you’ll want to ability to import financial records into your shop software accounting software like QuickBooks. That will enable you to streamline invoicing, accounts receivables, accounts payable and payroll.
- Customer Support: Your auto repair software provider should include helpful technical support. Make sure their support hours match your needs.
The benefits of using auto repair software
Discover how body shops and auto repair shops benefit from an optimized management system.
Get closer to profitability and improve cash flow.
Shop owners are always looking for ways to run a more profitable business. Cash flow is another common concern.
The good news is that online invoicing significantly speeds up the payment process. That means you’ve got cash on hand faster after every repair order. You’ll also craft more accurate quotes, cost estimates and budgets with an all-in-one tool.
Gross profit margin on labor is above 60% for many repair businesses. As you can see, auto shops depend on efficient technicians to stay in the black. Equipping your techs with industry-leading tools is a win-win.
Finally, the ability to monitor sales by technician gives you immediate insight into what is and isn’t working.
Attract new technicians.
The current labor market is highly competitive. Growing your business is an ever bigger challenge right now. The next generation of shop workers is leaning into technology.
Prospective technicians won’t choose a shop where they have to wade through stacks of paper to find service histories or customer details. A business owner that invests in shop management software stands out from the pack.
See performance indicators for your shop.
The only way to improve your business is to understand what’s happening every day. Analysis is second nature with shop software.
Most software solutions include a dashboard so you can see the number of jobs and statuses at a glance. You’ll also be able to track sales and see return on investment.
Discover important business trends by pulling a variety of reports.
Provide a better customer experience.
The auto industry is a customer-first trade. When 80% of auto shop customers are repeat visitors, you can’t afford to provide sub-par service.
Many auto shop software features are specifically made to improve your customer relationships. Email and text service updates and reminders, for example, are a must in today’s fast-paced environment.
Offer more personalized service.
Greeting a customer by name goes a long way, but without an organized shop management system, it’s no easy feat. A digital customer directory makes it much easier.
You can also customize promotions based on customer spending and other data. And who doesn’t like unique discounts and offers on the services they need?
Auto technology is advancing, and so should your auto repair shop software. To get started, request a free quote or schedule a demo.
Also, check out our 2019 Automotive Benchmark Report for more auto industry tips. Inside, you’ll discover insights from successful auto shop owners and actionable strategies you can start using today.
Want to learn more ways to optimize your business? Discover the latest technology trends in the auto industry.