How to Choose the Best Auto Repair Shop Software

July 24, 2023
Industry Trends & Insights
8 min read

Considering which auto repair shop software is best for your business can be overwhelming. However, moving your repair shop to digital solutions is essential to set your business up not only to survive but ultimately to grow and thrive in the future.

There is a wide range of shop repair software solutions available to auto repair shops, and the best option depends on the needs of your business, shop specialty, size, and budget. Here at PartsTech, we highly encourage general repair shops and tire shops to consider end-to-end shop management software which is why we integrate with over 35 of the best shop management solutions.

While you can purchase various software solutions that focus on single areas of your auto shop business — such as inventory management, repair order creation, appointments, invoice and payment programs, accounting software, etc. — shop management software puts all of those solutions (plus some) into one.

The best auto repair software has all the critical tools and key integrations consolidated into one software to help you and your team be on the same page and follow the same strategic processes to get customers and their vehicles in and out — in an organized and streamlined manner.

Cheat Sheet to Navigate Shop Management Software Selection 

As you set out to search for the best shop management software, below is a cheat sheet of terms and features to help you know what you are looking at (and maybe even what you want to look for) as you search for the best solution for your automotive repair business to fit your shop’s needs.

Frequently Used Terms

Cloud-Based — Many shop management software solutions will say they are “cloud-based.” “The cloud” refers to servers that are accessible over the Internet and the software and databases that run on those servers. A cloud-based software solution is advantageous because you do not have to install anything on a physical device, and you do not risk losing information that lives on a physical device. You can also access all information from anywhere using any device that has an internet connection.

Real-Time — One advantage of using cloud-based software is that your shop can rely on the latest, up-to-date product and features within the software without having to download anything. What’s even better is that all information that your staff enters into the software updates instantly — whether it be customer information, vehicle data, a repair order, notes, etc. — so that all staff can see the same information which helps them to remain on the same page.

Top Shop Management Features to Look For

Features That Help When a Customer Contacts Your Shop for Car Repair or Mantaintance 

Customer Profile and Look-Up — Add a new customer or find an existing one fast. Each customer profile can have information about the customer’s vehicle(s) with all current and historical service information, payment history, etc.

Vehicle Look-Up — Easily add vehicle information to a customer profile and/or repair order by searching make, model, and year.

Digital Estimates — Quickly create estimates that are digital and can be easily shared with customers via text or email.

Parts and Labor Look-Ups — Use built-in integrations with software like PartsTech to quickly add parts to an estimate.

Canned Services / Canned Jobs / Preset Jobs — Save your most popular services as templates, with all labor and parts information, to speed estimate creation.

Pricing Matrix — Ensure you are making a profit on parts vs breaking even or even losing money on parts. Set up automated parts markup percentages and ranges to standardize your parts margins, save time, and increase your profits.

Labor Matrix — By setting up a labor matrix, you can automate your labor markup instead of constantly relying on manual markup processes. This standardizes your markups and speeds up a process that is a must for every order.

Two-Way Text and Email (Built-In Customer-Communication) — Send a professional, digital estimate directly to a customer’s phone via SMS text and/or to their email. Customers can text back with comments, questions, and concerns. This significantly reduces phone calls and the hassle of playing phone tag with a customer. It also adds a high level of customer convenience and up-levels your customer service.

Remote / Digital Approvals — After a customer views their estimate, they can approve or decline (defer) any or all of the services from their device.

Appointment Creation and Reminders — Quickly set up appointments and automatically send appointment reminders via text or email to reduce no-shows and time spent on the phone calling customers.

Internal Notes — Easily add and view internal notes on any order. This means that service advisors and technicians can communicate efficiently and stay on the same page.

Features That Help When a Vehicle is in Your Shop

Shop Calendar and Technician Assignments — Let all staff have a clear view of the shop calendar to see what jobs are coming in and which technician is assigned to them. This helps keep everyone on the same page and helps technicians to move clearly from one assignment to the next.

VIN and License Plate Look-Up / Scanner — Speed vehicle check-in by using a vehicle’s VIN or license plate number. Some management software for repair shops also allows you to look up a vehicle by VIN and/or license plate — with a handful having scanners that work from a mobile device to automatically input vehicle data.

Digital Vehicle Inspection — Speed vehicle inspections with digital inspections and add photos and videos to help customers see what is going on with their vehicle and document any pre-existing damage. Send an inspection off to the customer with notes. Digital inspections are a surefire way to help build trust with your customers.

Work Order or Repair Order Tracking / Workflow Management — Set up a digital dashboard for your shop that allows you to see the status of any job at a glance. Whether a vehicle is waiting on parts, in progress, ready for pickup, etc., many shop management systems will allow you to quickly drag and drop an order from one status to the next.

Parts Ordering — By setting up an available integration with PartsTech, you can search for the right part(s) across all of your preferred parts vendors in one lookup. Add the parts to a repair order within your shop management system and place the order. You can add parts from different part suppliers to the same cart and click once to order then all.

Inventory Tracking and Alerts — Track your inventory to always know what you have in stock, and set up alerts to know when you are getting low on an item.

Built-In Diagrams and Procedures — View built-in diagrams and procedures from any order to get a job done right and fast.

Two-Way Text and Email (Built-In Customer-Communication) — This is worth calling out again. Help a vehicle owner to feel like they are not in the dark when their vehicle is in your hands. Quickly update your customer on the status of their vehicle either proactively or when they inquire.

Features That Help When a Vehicle is Ready for Pickup 

Automatic Invoice Creation — Automatically convert an estimate/repair order (terminology differs depending on the software) to an invoice that you can send off to the customer via text or email.

Online Payments — Allow customers to pay online from anywhere on any device with an internet connection. Customers are used to paying for things online — it’s fast and convenient. Customers will often pay before pickup which makes pickup fast and easy if they come after hours.

In-Person Payments — Cater to customers who prefer to pay in person with cards, cash, checks, or even Apple Pay or Google Wallet by accepting various payment methods in person. You also want to make sure you will have the ability to automatically track these payment types or input them manually when necessary.

Customer Reviews — Customer reviews are extremely important and valuable. Collect reviews with ease using automated review requests so that your shop shows up as a top shop for customers looking for a car repair shop.

Features to Help Manage Your Team 

Time Clocks — Track your team’s time with ease. Some systems let your staff clock in and out in a general fashion, while others allow them to clock into each job or even into each line item in a job to track both hours worked and efficiency by job.

Commissions — Easily track commissions by employee.

Efficiency/Productivity Reports — See where your team is fast, and where they could use some training to boost their efficiency and ultimately make your auto repair business more efficient.

Payroll Data — Make it easy to view and export data to simplify payroll processing.

Multi-Location — If you are a shop owner with multiple locations, standardize processes, procedures, and customer experience across all locations. Plus, you can easily see what is happening at any location from wherever you happen to be.

Other Helpful Features

Analytics — Whether you run a small auto repair shop or have multiple locations, know the health of your business by viewing reports that help you understand the summaries and trends that will drive strategic changes in your shop — allowing you to run a better business and become more profitable.

QuickBooks Integration — If your shop uses QuickBooks, look for management software that syncs invoices and inventory to your account automatically, making it easier to keep the books accurate.

Fleet Management and Bulk Payments — If your automotive repair shop services fleets, look for shop management software that helps you seamlessly manage fleets and accepts bulk payments for fleet services.

PartsTech Partners with 35+ Shop Management Systems

As mentioned, we highly encourage every auto shop to consider end-to-end shop management software, which is why we integrate with over 35 of the best shop management systems including:

And more: Auto Apps Software, AutoFluent, Bay-Master, CarServ, Complete Auto Reports, DCS Software Inc., Deal Pack, EasyRO, FastTrak Auto Shop Management System, GEM-CAR, InTune Auto, Mechanic Advisor, oTo Grip, PM Attendant, Protractor, Repair360, Scott Systems, TireShop, TireSMART, VIP Shop Management, Workshop Software, Yes Prime Repair Shop Software