Using all the tools in your ‘toolbox’

by | Jul 5, 2024 | 0 comments

To be successful as a shop, you have to have the right tools. Certainly, as a tech, you spend a lot of time and effort developing your own repertoire of skills, getting the right tools. You probably have your favorite scan tool. (You probably have more than one.)

But being successful requires more than having just the right tools in the toolbox.

Murray Voth, RPM Training

“In fact, the whole digital world is bringing a whole new raft of tools the last 10, 15 years, and with more every day,” says Murray Voth, RPM Training. on a recent episode of The Great Canadian Aftermarket Podcast, presented by Castrol “I have the privilege of working with a whole range of shops in different circumstances.”

With, for example, a variety of views on Shop Management Systems.

“I get asked on a regular basis, ‘Murray, what is the best one?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it depends.’

“Everybody’s looking for that perfect software. And of course, there’s always a bolt-on, there’s always an app because, whoever developed a software only thinks of it in a certain approach. If the shop management system is built by an accountant, well, guess what? It’s really strong on accounting. If it’s built by a salesperson, it’s really strong for sales. Or if it’s from inventory management it’s really strong that way. It tends to have its biases in most cases. I ask people, ‘Well what do you do? What are you currently using? And are you using it to his full capacity?’”

And that, among all the many other questions around Shop Management Systems and other digital tools is the big one.

Most shops do not know if they’re using their SMS to its full capacity.

“So, I’m encouraging people to think about how to push it till it breaks, right? And then at that point, you can start your research.

“The other thing I think that’s tying into this is the use of cloud-based systems. I look at shops and their accounting software. Sometimes it’s built into the SMS. Sometimes there’s using standalone. The big three that I’m familiar with are QuickBooks, Sage, and then there’s one called Zero that’s making some real inroads into North America.

“There are shops that are sticking to the desktop version of these when their accountants are switching to the cloud-based version. I use the Cloud-based version of QuickBooks online. I have a bookkeeper, she’s in Alberta, we’ve never met in person. I upload my statements, my bank’s connected to it, and it’s so fast. I have an app where I take pictures of a few receipts, the few paper receipts that I do have, it automatically uploads it to a folder for her, and away we go.”

Further into the business and taking a team approach to digital tools, is putting the emphasis on consistency. If you have multiple computers and screens at play in a business, and the ability of each user to customize to their own liking, you can quickly have every individual playing to a different set of priorities. Plus, they’re not able to transition to other roles easily.

A partnering trainer with Murray, Doug Brackett, owner of Downtown Automotive in Nelson, B.C. (and future guest on The Great Canadian Podcast) focused on some basics, says Voth.

“Does everybody use the same browser in the company? He recommends Google Chrome because it plays nice with most other brands. Edge doesn’t always play nice with certain other software. Do you have all of your bookmarks the same for every one of your service advisors? Does everybody have their own login so then they, they can access Google Docs?”

Voth says have this kind of consistency can really avoid delays when someone has to step in.

“So, he was literally showing a screen where the desktop is set up the same for every employee.

“Yes, there are things that are changing, but if you use the tools to the best of your ability now, you will be more prepared for changes or new features.

The idea here is everybody has the same place where they log into everything. From a standpoint of an organization, if a service advisor has to call in sick and let’s say the bookkeeper has to cover the front counter for the day, they can walk up to that front desk and that computer’s exactly the same as their computer.”

Voth says that it’s important for shop owners to really dig into the capabilities of their system. Anecdotally, SMS providers are regularly questioned about adding capabilities that are already included, but users just haven’t realized it.

“What ends up happening is a lot of us just grab the tool, use the one piece of it that we somehow got shown, or that we understand, and we don’t do take the time to do a deeper dive to use that tool.”



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