Automotive Management Solutions Severs Ties with R.O. Writer

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Jan. 15, 2018—For 20 years Automotive Management Solutions sold R.O. Writer as its largest distributor. In September, however, the distributor made a big change by dropping R.O. Writer from its services, and replacing it with the shop management software Protractor.

What led up to the major change, Automotive Management Solutions (AMS) President Scott Thorley said, was “writing on the wall” that the company was not going in the right direction, and that R.O. Writer was no longer interested in the reseller model.

“They had gotten rid of all their other distributors,” Thorley said. “The technical support declined, and callback times would be several days. We spent a lot of our time handling support calls that they weren’t. And on the development side, they’ve really been challenged to release new software.”

Rick Stermole, director of R.O. Writer, tells a different story about the transition, however, and said the company is in a great position going forward.

Stermole said that over the past few years, the company realized that its business model needed to change to remain price competitive. Most of the company’s competitors had moved to a monthly subscription fee, and Stermole said that R.O. Writer had to follow suit.

“We knew that it would be financially difficult for the resellers to make the transition from a sales model (with all revenue) to a monthly subscription fee (with virtually no upfront revenue, but rather with revenue spread over the life of the subscription),” Stermole said. “So in 2011, we started winding down the reseller network and we started up an in-house sales team.

Thorley said that, after analyzing different software programs on the market, Protractor stood out as the best option. Since it’s a cloud-based system, Thorley said the software doesn’t require shops to backup their information in case of a crash. Protractor can also be accessed anywhere, so users can run it at home, or on the go if desired.

Update times were a major issue for AMS’s clients, as Thorley said that each shop would require about two hours per upgrade. Protractor, on the other hand, he claimed, releases an update about every three weeks, and this updated all AMS's clients in a matter of minutes.”

Stermole said that his company's statistics show that, on average for a five-computer network, it takes his support team 30-45 minutes to upgrade the R.O. Writer software. After upgrading to the new SQL-based Gen 2 product, Stermole said that upgrades typically take 30 minutes or less.

To keep up with the new subscription model and shift away from reselling, Stermole said that R.O. Writer more than doubled its development staff over the past several years.

The company also has a complete installation and training team. Initial training for new customers, hands-on training classes, live webinars and streams recorded video sessions to provide continuing training for all customers.

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