Shop management systems (SMS) have come a long way. Think about it…we are not that far removed from the days of handwritten RO’s and techs punching a time clock from the 80’s.
Today’s shop can’t really afford to be without an all-in-one SMS to help manage everything from accounting, job estimating, inventory, customer history, parts ordering etc. In a market driven by increased automation and a customer expectation of both information and repair status ‘on demand’, the platform you use will determine profitability and the ease with which your business runs.
Maybe you have had your SMS for ten years or more. Maybe it’s no longer handling everything with the same efficiency. Maybe it’s simply out of touch with the new tech needs of your shop.
Maybe it’s time for a change…
How Will You Know When It’s Time to Change?
Shop owners need a platform that helps them streamline every critical function of their business. It should do everything but fix the car, right?
If your SMS is missing an important function that you have to jump into another system to handle, it’s time for a change. An SMS that lacks accounting software to accurately track P/L or one that doesn’t have the plug-ins to help you send emails to existing customers means another program has to be bought to fulfill those needs.
If your current SMS has lackluster support when you need help or guidance, it’s time for a change. Nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of a day’s worth of RO’s only to have the system malfunction or find that data is missing. If you can’t get support on the phone immediately, that could cost you dearly.
If your SMS doesn’t have a one-stop-shop for all of your suppliers built in for easy parts ordering, it’s DEFINITELY time for a change. Maybe we at PartsTech are a little biased, but we know how important it is for shops to be able to handle their parts ordering within their SMS rather than having to jump out into multiple windows on the computer or have to waste time calling around to find a part, just to have to manually enter part info and price back into the SMS. Next-generation SMS platforms already have this capability and that’s why we partner with them.
What Will You Look for in a New SMS?
When we here at PartsTech talked to shop owners across the country, we found that many of these shops that were changing to new SMS platforms were excited about the features offered that older platforms don’t offer.
We gathered a short list of the cutting-edge features shops wanted, and are now able to have thanks to forward-thinking SMS providers
- Cloud-based, accessible from anywhere, on any device. No need to maintain a server in the back room.
- Tablet/mobile flexibility so that techs can easily update repair status and take photos from the bay.
- Marketing plug-ins to help with content and email marketing to existing customers.
- Text messaging built in for the latest method of customer communication and job approvals.
- Dedicated customer service available when you need them. That includes Saturdays, too.
- Built in parts ordering (shameless plug again) that brings parts right into the work order. One channel for everything.
- A modern user experience that is easy to understand and even easier to train your staff to use.
A Few More Tips When SMS Shopping…
Think about the last time you made a purchase online. What was the first thing you did?
Check the reviews. We all want that level of ‘social proof’ to help us feel better about our purchase and a major buy like an SMS platform is no exception. Seek out developers that offer reviews, case studies, or testimonials to help give you the peace of mind that their system will do everything you need it to and then some.
Keep cost in mind but don’t let it limit you either. The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ still applies even in today’s clogged technology marketplace. Go too cheap and you could get a weak SMS with no support and too much downtime. Spend too much and you could push the boundaries of your budget.
There are options that don’t cost as much, but actually give you MORE program features. Be willing to pay for exactly what you need. Your business will depend on it.
Plus, many of these new systems offer free trials. If its a system that connects with PartsTech you can use the same PartsTech account as you shop around.
And if the SMS you are considering doesn’t have parts ordering integration included, let us know. PartsTech is always reaching out to new SMS developers to be a part of their platforms.
Having access to our online parts search lets you stay within your system without the wasted time of phone calls or multiple windows open on your computer. Your preferred suppliers show up first and it’s a quick way to see what they have, how much it costs, and how quickly you can get it delivered. One channel for millions of parts.
Click here to see a current list of SMS providers that PartsTech is already integrated with. (Some of them have free trials!)
For more information on working with PartsTech or if you want to see if you can connect us to either your existing SMS or one you are considering, call us at 866-308-5193 or click here to reach out. We’re always happy to help!