Repair Life at the Cutting Edge
As a self-described tinkerer, Mike Bergeron has always fiddled with the details. As service manager at Autowerkes Maine, a Euro-centric shop just north of Portland on the eastern coast of Maine, he has every opportunity to do so.
Autowerkes is a state-of-the-art, 9,000-square-ft facility designed to repair the most cutting edge European marques. To keep up with the 225+ monthly vehicles at the $1.8 million annual revenue shop, Bergeron and owner Voit Rich needed an equally impressive management system. Enter Shop-Ware.
Cloud-Based Communication and Records
“The first thing we noticed about Shop-Ware was its impressive cloud-based approach,” Bergeron says.
Bergeron and Voit are able to reach their customers under any circumstances—if the power goes out or they simply want to notify customers about upcoming service or an existing RO during the weekend, they can do so through Shop-Ware’s suite of mobile services.
“We can talk to customers from anywhere in the world, see their repair numbers or our estimates, and keep moving forward,” Bergeron says.
No more leaving endless voicemails or waiting days for approvals—Shop-Ware has revolutionized how Autowerkes Maine conducts business and communicates with the customer, akin to moving from a beat-up country road to the Autobahn.
Former paper processes can now be accomplished electronically, instantly speeding up rote paperwork and helping to eliminate human errors. Shop-Ware allows fine customizations—tinkering, in a sense—with repeat or canned jobs, enabling accurate, bespoke multi-point inspections per customer or vehicle, cutting down on further paperwork.
“Shop-Ware is also quick to input all those jobs at the time of the phone call; the appointment is made within five minutes,” Bergeron says.
The pre-estimate is immediately available for the customer, and in the shop’s old system, that paperwork and appointment setting would require another person to write the RO and to find parts.
“Shop-Ware has eliminated wasted time doing non-productive tasks,” he says, and transformed how Autowerkes communicates with its customers.
“A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in real time with the customer,” Bergeron says.
“Sharing photos speaks to our transparency and credibility. We ask how to communicate and often it’s email or text, which also speeds up approvals. We can share the repair, allow customers to check in throughout the day, and work with remote approvals, keeping ROs moving through the shop and eliminating downtime.”
Bergeron even believes the software helps with customer retention and CSI scores, cementing the shop’s great reputa- tion even more by showing the cutting edge repair work as it occurs.
Upgrade Your Optimization
Bergeron also uses Shop-Ware to streamline parts procurement, pricing and optimization.
“We check pricing across different vendors, add parts to the RO, and then place the orders,” he says, “allowing for maximum efficiency; you don’t need to pick up the phone.”
Bergeron and Voit are particularly impressed with Shop-Ware’s Parts Gross Profit Optimizer tool. “It’s a smart parts matrix that’s always adapting,” Voit says, “and it helps you set and achieve a standard goal for parts profitability.”
Autowerkes Maine had been trying to increase its profitability on parts and, within just a few days of working with the Optimizer, they had boosted the profitability line from 46 to 50 percent. They’ve now been hitting that goal for months.
“We set the goal and Optimizer in an hour and now it just works in the background, moving and adapting and changing according to the ROs and our current inventory. If I want 52 percent tomorrow, all I have to do is adjust the goal and the Optimizer will do the rest.”
The Optimizer functions as an advanced pricing matrix, something many shop owners are accustomed (and often frustrated) by.
“It’s like an entire extra employee,” Voit reflects.
“It’s a floating matrix that utilizes algorithms from the history built into the program specific to our parts. It’s built off our data. The longer we have it on, the more we use it, the more accurate it gets. It’s incredible.”
Autowerkes Maine also enjoys the support Shop-Ware offers its clients. When Bergeron has a question, Shop-Ware answers. They also interact via Facebook and connect Autowerkes to other Shop-Ware users, so they can post to and benefit from others’ knowledge and experiences as well.
Looking ahead, Voit is thrilled his shop has endured and that the 35th anniversary is near.
“The market will dictate where we go; I look ahead to where the market is headed as well as behind. We just need to be able to react.”
And with Shop-Ware, he knows he can.