Mychael Althouse had a record-breaking month of sales at his auto repair shop, United Tire & Service in Feasterville, Pa., in April 2014.
The Philadelphia suburban 8 bay shop serviced 12 to 15 cars per day as it has since Althouse took over the 30-year business three years ago.
“We gained about 20K more in a month,” Althouse said. “That month was the best month in my company’s history of owning the shop.”
Not coincidentally, April was the first full month the repair shop had put in place BOLT ON’s wireless automotive software solution aimed at increasing shop efficiency and boosting profits.
Before his shop began using mobile technology, Althouse, as part of the vehicle check-in process, said he spent about five minutes or more per customer going outside of the shop to jot down the customer’s VIN, license plate number and mileage. Then, he’d come back inside and re-enter the information, hoping he didn’t write the wrong numbers.
“9 out of 10 customers don’t know what year the vehicle is,” he said. “Nobody knows their VIN.”
With mobile technology, it’s not necessary to know either of those things. With a seconds-long scan of a car’s VIN, the wireless device populates form fields for make, model, year and more, opening the door for technicians to begin the repair order or digital multi-point inspection process as they greet the customer at their vehicle. The data automatically syncs with repair shop management systems, meaning service advisors, owners and technicians no longer have to enter information twice.
“It saves time at the front desk,” added Althouse.
Beyond its ability to quickly and effortlessly scan and decode VINs and conduct digital multi-point inspections either from a mobile device or a tablet, Althouse said the biggest benefit involves photo-taking and texting functionality for easily sharing vehicle conditions with customers.
Photographs that illustrate technicians’ recommended service makes the upsell process easier, even at times when customers can’t physically come to the shop and review pending services, according to Althouse.
“People are able to see their vehicles while they’re at work,” he said. “It helps people make judgments easier.”
In addition, being able to text or email repair orders, along with accompanying photos speeds up the customer approval process, which, in turn, boosts productivity and overall shop efficiency, he said.
Mobile technology, which comes equipped with customizable digital multi-point inspection forms, has helped to keep Althouse’s techs “on point as far as looking the vehicle over a little more,” he said.
“It’s a good tool for your tech to follow so they can get the proper inspection out,” Althouse said of the line-by-line checkout sheets his shop uses.