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2019-04-29 The Shop Isn't Just About Wrenches

The Shop Isn't Just About Wrenches

Let's Talk Shop for BHPH - Pt. 6

By Gene Daughtry, BHPH Consultant

     I mentioned more than once in this series of articles about being able to find information, track labor hours, create records and posting costs to your inventory, well that generally requires software. Seems everything does these days. If you were following my procedures, you would have a DMS (Dealer Management System) that has a shop module. You would separately need a program that can aid in diagnosing vehicles and provide industry standard labor hours. If you are going to monitor your operation you need reports and a process that requires information is properly input to be able to see accurate information.

     Since you are hiring human beings to help you in your business, anything you can do to avoid errors will be helpful. No matter how good your team is, when the frantic days hit, if you have a process that requires double entry of data your accountant will be screaming after the books close. I have said it many times, we have enough headaches without making them ourselves.

     It is not necessary to have a DMS that has shop capabilities, but if you are dealing with customers in a service capacity, why wouldn’t you? Having a DMS that has a shop module, or a direct integration with a shop program, is best. Shop operation or not I believe you should be able to produce a Repair Order so there is a record of work done, or refused, and a receipt can be generated for payment. You should be able to provide your customer, in writing, records of any work done. This should include reconditioning work you did and policy repairs. Your Repair Order or an additional document should have disclaimers, warranties spelled out and everything provided to be signed for. The software should retain copies of all documents created, recognize and assign the work to the right vehicle, customer, Service Technician(s) and be able to produce reports for multiple data points.

     Only a couple of the BHPH capable Dealer Management Systems have a service module that I am aware of. Auto Master Systems and ABCoA Deal Pack. I am not going to say one is better than the other (you can call me to discuss 479-970-4049). Many dealers that use them like the DMS they have, generally. If you’re looking to start a new shop or upgrade your current operation then be sure to demo them before buying, preferably with the manager you intend to use the program. The DMS should be capable of tracking parts, pricing, tracking hours, having ability to quick add preset jobs and handle billing. I want to say there are many other DMS companies in the market. I have been in the industry for 30 years and other than iDMS (Dealersocket, AutoStar), no one ever tried to sell me on them. I have also used CDK in a franchise dealership (it was ADP in those days) to handle all the selling and shop work but that required double entry for the BHPH sales into a DMS to handle collections and deferred customer billing.

     There is shop software available that can be integrated into different DMS’s (like iDMS) including the ones mentioned above. These programs, Omnique and Sutton Technologies are more robust than the modules included in the DMS’s but with integration you achieve the same objective. Single entry of data, quick look up, good reporting and ease of use.


     Now let’s talk about a Shop Management software. These provide your service department with information like detailed schematics, electrical wiring diagrams, diagnostic solutions for specific codes pulled from a vehicle. These programs provide the breakdown of labor hours for each job performed (or combination of jobs) and give you general part prices. These programs will notify you of bulletins and recalls of vehicles, when input, which then records what you found on each vehicle. The two primary programs used are AllData and Mitchell 1. Which to use is similar to guys having a Ford or Chevy truck, love one, hate the other. Most shop guys can use either. The “Dodge” guys in this scenario will use Identifix which is a good source for information but does not provide labor hour information. In our shop we always use AllData but we also subscribe to Identifix for the additional diagnostic help they provide. In my last article about shop equipment I noted you should have a PC and printer for printing schematics and aid in diagnostics. That is for the techs to use and one of the computers where AllData or Mitchell and Identifix are available.

     I have run a shop using the Service Advisor capabilities of AllData (can be done with the others) and our DMS. The Shop Softwares above do not integrate with the DMS’s. They are a tool and provide the information your managers need to build Repair Orders and determine labor hours. These programs are also what Service Contract companies use (including reinsurance) to determine claim payouts. When your technicians scan vehicles for codes they can open one of the shop programs and get detailed diagnostic “trees” to follow and help isolate the issue. That helps speed up repairs and get those vehicles back out with less parts hanging and come backs.

     Now I mentioned scanner. This is another computer used in shop work these days. A good quality scanner will cost about $4000 to $5000. They will require updates periodically to keep up with newer model vehicles. Like the software this is a preference made by your personnel. We always have two scanners. A Determinator or Modis (brands, expensive) either are very capable of reading codes, aiding in diagnosing, tracking runability issues and reading any vehicle we chose to sell (proper updates and connectors). We also keep a smaller less complicated (cheaper) scanner for someone to run out and scan codes when customers rolled up with a check engine light on (we bought lots of gas caps). Everyone in our dealerships knew we would scan codes for free and told customers to come in so we could check vehicle condition. We also checked payment status and GPS function (have a Culture of Collections attitude).

     I know I haven’t mentioned every available option above. As I said before I have been in the business for 30 years and have been writing for 10 or those. What I talk about comes from my experiences either through personal hands on or my teams. We handled thousands of vehicles in 4 shops in 3 states.

Gene Daughtry has almost 30 years of BHPH experience. He setup and operated 4 different dealerships, all with full service operations. Currently Gene represents Jilcat Proline and their super lubricant line of products, does training with Auto Master Systems, provides Service Consulting and capital help for dealers through

If I can help you with your shop let me know. 479-970-4049.