Whether you are running a multi-booth mega-bodyshop or operating a more modest business, properly managing your workflow its vital if you want to remain successful. There are a range of system types available, but which is the right one for your business?
Here BODY looks at what is on the market, and what will work for you.

According to Chris Yates, IT Consultant at Autoflow, bodyshops should utilise a system that offers the ability to oversee the whole, rather than the constituent parts: ‘A management system should look at the management aspects of controlling jobs through the processes that exist within a bodyshop rather than looking at the work on a job by job basis. The management system needs to drive Best Practice at every stage of the repair. This ensures that everyone involved in the repair process gains benefit; customers are notified and regularly updated, parts are ordered in good time, correctly priced and returns credited swiftly; the repair process is properly planned, executed and invoiced correctly.’

While management systems are widely used, not all bodyshops have suitable a set-up: ‘We estimate that around 2,000 body shops currently run management systems of one sort or another although probably half of those use outdated systems that were never really designed to meet the needs of modern repairers and meet the ever increasing demands of their customers for information and customer support. ‘

Computer Says Yes – Online Management Systems
According to Alan Hargreaves, Managing Director of computer based bodyshop management systems provider E.M.A Computer Solutions (EMACS), the kind of system you need depends very much on your size: ‘All shops, from small independents, franchised dealers, through to large independents and groups can make effective use of a management system to improve operational efficiency and minimise administration and retain more profit by reducing waste.
Commenting on computer-based systems, Alan continues: ‘There is no doubt that a

management system can help to improve utilisation and efficiency not only in your workshop but also in the support areas such as admin, estimating, parts and courtesy car control. It will provide total management information for your business through reporting and highlighting, via KPIs, the areas that will benefit most from introducing control systems, and best practice procedures.’

Alan_Hargreaves

It is not a case of a one-size-fits-all system though says Alan: ‘The value it will add to your business depends on the system you choose, its users, current working practices and business controls you have in place, not forgetting the on-going support provided by the system vendors.

‘If you only have two or three productives you do not need a full management system, but you may require a small bespoke system. This will produce professional opinion time estimates, or import from Audatex, Glassmatix or Inter-est etc and automatically convert the estimate into a job specification for the shop floor. It could then generate multiple invoices for betterment, excess and VAT along with the main invoice and a detailed collection note.

‘Franchise bodyshops who are using a dealer management system such as ADP Kerridge that produces job cards and invoices still need a management system to control all the other areas the business but don’t want to pay for a full system

price and only use part of it or have to duplicate information.’

Important Questions To Ask
According to Alan, when looking for a management system, there are a few things to remember: ‘Firstly, ensure you look at all systems along with the people who will use it to see which one you’re happier using and would offer the most benefit to your business.

‘Ask and check what post installation support is available, including out of hours support and what would happen in the worst case scenario. Ensure that the people you will be dealing with have the experience and knowledge to help you get the best out of a management system.’

Alan believes that the opinions of other users are invaluable: ‘Ask for a list of current users and don’t be afraid to call the current users to get their opinion on the system, installation and support. A site visit would be beneficial.’

Some other questions to ask include: ‘Does the installation include migrating customer lists and work in progress in to new system? Is there a continuous development program with free upgrades? Does the system allow the business to grow? Can the system supplier offer daily data and image back up facility?

Real Choice For Bodyshops
In a world where work providers instruct bodyshops to use this or that product, the management system is an area where a business has real choice: ‘Many shops have two or more estimating systems, they may have two or more paint systems, and may be told what consumables to use, not because they want them, but work providers mandate them if you want to do their work. But you do have a choice when it comes to a management system,’ observes Alan.

Article supplied courtesy of Alexander Wells from BODY

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