Auto Service World
Feature   May 1, 2014   by Steve Pawlett

Jobber Technology Puts Profit At Your Fingertips

The ability to serve customers through multiple channels is now a key component of every successful jobber’s marketing plan.
At the core of this strategy is a comprehensive, user-friendly database management system that enables jobbers to gain an edge on their competition by providing customer and business insights that help them make better decisions faster.
Comprehensive forecasting and pricing tools can help jobbers identify sales trends that are happening within their market, which allows them to react quickly and stock effectively for their particular market needs. Today, the ability to utilize other selling sites and offer online ordering that is available to customers 24/7 are now elements that are crucial to overall success and future growth.
“For most jobbers, parts delivery is an integral part of the service they offer and they can stand or fall based on how quickly, reliably, and accurately they can get the right part to their customer at the right time,” explains Jerry Fugina, president of Rinax Computer Systems Ltd.
“For our customers with Rinax X4 software, we are now integrated with the Elite EXTRA GPS delivery service. Elite EXTRA (EXtreme Tracking and Routing Application) allows jobbers to effectively and efficiently dispatch deliveries, track them on the Web real-time with GPS integration, and get up-to-the minute ETAs and manifest lists. With the Rinax X4 Delivery Manager, a dispatcher can upload documents to Elite EXTRA for delivery tracking, route management, remote signature capture, and driver tracking,” adds Fugina.
“We live in a point-and-click world now, and it is a lot easier to train people on X4 than the older Rinax Legacy version,” says Kenton Switzer, owner of Pat’s Auto Parts in Grand Prairie, Alberta.
“There are just so many more options with the X4. Sometimes with the display in front of you with all those options it can seem a bit intimidating, but at least you can figure it out because it is all displayed with multiple tabs and it flows pretty intuitively,” explains Switzer.
“I have four parts stores, a driveline shop, and satellite warehouse that I run through X4 and it makes it very easy. When you see something in another branch you just point and click. Rinax probably has one of the best inter-branch purchase order systems out there,” adds Switzer.
“My personal experience is, if someone gives you a task and it’s reasonably arduous, that means there is a greater probability of it either not getting done, or it’s going to take a whole lot longer to get done. If it’s very simplistic to get it completed, it’s just going to be that much faster,” explains Doug Borland, president of Western Bearing in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba.
Borland went live with the Epicor Eagle system in January 2013. “It’s been just over a year now, and we are at a good spot now and are just tweaking things and settling into the software. In today’s world, everybody wants everything emailed. I work fairly heavily on the purchasing side, so I often get requests for spreadsheets to be sent out. With the old system, you could do it but it was much more cumbersome. If you say, ‘Send me your Moog inventory,’ while I’m sitting here talking to you on the phone I can press a couple of keys, and with your email address in hand I can have it to you within seconds. Things like that are a huge benefit,” says Borland.
The new, hosted version of the Eagle solution enables users to run their businesses without owning and maintaining a dedicated onsite server. Instead, the solution resides on a virtual server located in an Epicor advanced data centre, with staff providing around-the-clock monitoring, all required maintenance, automated backups, and the latest protection from viruses and other security threats.
In addition to the hosted version of the Eagle solution, Epicor recently introduced several new features that are now available to all Eagle users. The latest release of the Eagle software includes a new Epicor LaserCat 3 automotive eCatalog interface with two optional new search tools related to original equipment parts.
“My counter staff think the LaserCat 3 is the best feature of our Epicor Eagle system,” says Denis Berube, owner of Nordiques Inc. in Quebec City.
“The LaserCat 3 puts everything on one page so you can see everything more easily. Some of my staff have even tipped their 17-inch wide computer screens up to make them taller rather than wide so they don’t have to scroll as much, to save time with customers. With an average of 300 calls a day we are on LaserCat 3 a lot,” adds Berube.
Nordiques Inc. has been working with Epicor and SiteAlive to consolidate its four websites into one e-store. Nordiques currently operates a woodworking equipment website, a general automotive site, a transitional electronic catalogue for retail customers, and a catalogue site for technicians. Located in Quebec City, Nordiques’ customer base is 85% walk-in business.
“We are a retail business so we have to be on all the social networks. We have to put our name into the heads of our customers and potential customers. They need to remember us and think of us first when they need automotive parts or woodworking tools. I don’t expect to be their only supplier, but I want to be their first choice, or at the very least, their second call,” says Berube.
Fuse5 is a business management software company and provider of cloud-based solutions to the automotive aftermarket that has recently expanded into the Canadian market.
Fuse5 software comes complete with point of sale, inventory management, customer relationship management, and back office. Fuse5 is a comprehensive business solution created specifically for the automotive aftermarket and is designed for all levels of the supply chain from installers to jobbers, two-steppers, WDs, and manufacturers.
“Expanding into Canada is a major step in reaching new customers and growing the Fuse5 brand globally,” says Fuse5 CEO Gabe Davis.
Fuse5 back-office offers dynamic reports that users can review and interact with onscreen, and includes a full accounting package. Purchasing includes easy-to-use forecasting logic. Cataloguing includes Activant/Epicor Lasercat3. Fuse5 jobber management software has a full shop management software built in including service centre scheduling, repair slips, technician reports, labour rates, repair diagnostics, and more. Sophisticated pricing allows users to automate price sheet import and breakout tiers to hold higher margin on lower dollar parts, all with no user limitations.
Fuse5 also acts as a hub that spans the entire supply chain and is integrated with a variety of third-party providers, which allows users to decide at any time which provider best fits their needs.
An inventory management system that is integrated with local jobber systems and offers online customer communications is just as important to automotive service shops.
“With Gem-Car I have set up maintenance programs for all my customers. It tells me what they are due for and what they are not due for. When I type in their name, licence number, or VIN, it tells me what needs to be done – something as simple as an emissions test, for example. Once they have done one emissions test, it will tell me when the next one is due,” explains Rob Ingram of Napa Auto Pro in Stratford, Ontario.
“A lot of the time I will be working on a work order and a customer will call or come in for service. With a lot of programs it can be difficult to get in and out of a program you are working in, but with Gem-Car, all I have to do is click New and bring up that customer’s information, which would include deferred work and anything in the past that we had discussed. If I need to book an appointment, I just click on the calendar and book the appointment. On
ce it’s booked I just hit the Previous button and it takes me back to the previous invoice I was working on,” explains Ingram.
Gem-Car’s latest software update, version 7.1, has a number of new modules. These include the ability to install specific job descriptions for every job sold; attach pictures and videos to estimates and invoices sent by email; send SMS text, confirm appointments, or advise the customer the car is ready; sign work orders and invoices with an electronic pad signature; decode the VIN with CARFAX integration; add promotional coupons to an invoice; use the rental car program to track rentals and loaner vehicles; conduct loyalty program tracking; and link remotely from tablet to the punch clock within Gem-Car. (Gem-Car now offers a glass module for the automotive replacement glass business.)
Gem-Fleet, Gem-Car’s module for the heavy-duty market, has added additional wheel positions to allow for a full inspection including recording friction material thickness and tire tread depths.
“The big positive with Gem-Car, in addition to its ease of use, is whenever you want something or need something that will make your life easier, you explain it to them and they try to introduce it in the next rollout,” says Norm Lehoux, owner of Dixie Matheson Service Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
Lehoux has been using the Gem-Car system for a year and a half now. “It makes us more efficient and our customers can see we aren’t just sitting back with a 15-year-old system to make a dollar. I think it gives customers comfort as well when you can show you are willing to spend some money to keep your operation up to date. They know they are bringing their car to someone who isn’t trying to analyze an engine problem with a paperclip. It shows we are serious about our business and we are here to stay,” adds Lehoux.
Today the depth of the software that is available is almost limitless, so it really comes down to how much time you want to spend on the various features that work best for your business model. For instance, expanding your sales territory by setting up an e-store is now becoming the norm for many jobbers.
Advances in technology and the level of sophistication now available in database management systems provide seamless connections to sales data that jobbers can use to gain valuable insight into customer buying patterns, which is key to helping them maintain that all-important competitive edge.

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