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Transitioning to a Better Shop Management System

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Utilizing the best shop management software is crucial for staying ahead in the automotive industry. While moving away from your current system can feel frightening at first, setting your business up for success often means trying a new, more efficient system.

    Larry Ceola, owner of Cavalier Automotive in Troutville, Va., used the same software for years before finally deciding to change. “There were so many issues that were continuous and I just hit a point and said, ‘I’m done with this,’” Ceola says.

    Much like Ceola, two other shops felt similar frustrations and ultimately left behind their long-time shop management solutions. For all three, their answer was Protractor and Automotive Management Solutions [AMS].

“When we were looking to make a change, we analyzed every major software out there and concluded that Protractor is the best one available,” says AMS President Scott Thorley. “Ever since AMS moved to Protractor in the fall of 2017, we have been more and more impressed with the company, the software, and the community of the customer base.”

Protractor, a cloud-based management platform, is built on the latest .NET technology, and can be accessed from anywhere.  It is a complete, feature rich solution that doesn’t require the shop to have a server, integrates well with third parties, and even allows you to integrate appointment scheduling thru your website. The software is a monthly subscription with no long term contract.  AMS provides 1 on 1 training, on call support, and a team of experts to help with your transition.

Three shops share their experience moving to Protractor, the benefits of the software, and how AMS helped them with the transition.

Utilize Training Resources at Your Own Pace

Switching over to a brand new shop management system after using the same one for years is a challenge. To make the process easier, AMS and Protractor provide customers with video tutorials, 1-on-1 training, and quick answers when questions arise.

Charlie Marcotte, owner of American Pride Automotive with three locations in Va., was ready to leave behind his old system and wanted a new, improved one for his shops. As a long-time customer of AMS’s previous system, R.O. Writer, Marcotte spoke to AMS about possibly taking on the company’s newest offering —Protractor— for his business.

“We did our research on Protractor and no question about it, Protractor was the future for our business,” Marcotte says. While onboarding was a big fear of Marcotte’s, he says his shop was able to properly learn the program by experiencing it first. After beginning the program, Marcotte’s shop now utilizes AMS’ video training programs in order to find the answers they need.

    Having the ability to contact Scott Thorley at AMS throughout has been a bonus, Marcotte says. “[Thorley and AMS] are so dedicated and make sure that our needs have been met,” Marcotte says. “He’ll come on site to do individual training.”  Overall, Protractor has made a smooth transition into Marcotte’s shops, he says.

“Protractor works with our website and it works with our DVI seamlessly,” Marcotte says. “What we were looking for is a series of programs that don’t duplicate each other. We’ve never experienced that until now.”


Become Part of a Community

When you invest in Protractor you are investing in a company that is community-driven. In order to further assist customers in the onboarding process, AMS Protractor has a Facebook group that encourages users to share ideas and ask questions to the community.

    “I’m on the AMS Protractor Facebook page a lot,” Ceola says. ‘We watch the posts from the other shops and what they’re asking; it’s a community of other shops doing the same thing that are all progressive-minded because they’ve made the leap and that’s pretty cool.”

    Ceola says that since the business has gone live, Protractor has been great. “We’re getting ready to start our third month and [we’ve found] that every month has been better than the last—that’s the new trend,” Ceola says.     

Stay Ahead with Constant Updates
Protractor is made to keep users constantly and automatically updated. Since moving to Protractor, Eric Pohlman, owner of Eric’s Auto Service in Ohio, says the amount of updates to the system have been outstanding.

    According to Pohlman, he’s already seen at least thirteen updates with Protractor.

“[With R.O. Writer,] I wasn’t getting the updates and didn’t think it would be in touch with what we do today,” Pohlman says. “AMS started carrying Protractor and I looked into it and felt that Protractor was just developing all of the time.”

    “Protractor takes requests from customers and provides updates for the best quality experience,” Pohlman says.  An example Pohlman has appreciated is the enhancements for looking up history, and automatically adding to the ticket the exact same job the customer did last time.

    “[The updates are] like opening up a gift every month,” Pohlman says. “It’s kind of exciting.”


For more information on AMS and Protractor, visit our website at or call (800) 566-9325

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