In essence, a management system is the communications centre of the modern bodyshop, and I am proud to say that it was EMACS which, in 1995, was the first to market with a PC-based application designed to empower a bodyshop manager/owner to load his shop to its theoretical maximum capacity.

Interestingly, while the past 19 years have seen great changes in technology, formal procedures (e.g. PAS 125) and legislation, the fundamental principle of “buying and selling time” – from your productives and to your work providers respectively – remains unchanged.

And, as we all know, the success or otherwise, of buying-and-selling in business drives the bottom line profit.

For example, EMACS bodyshop management software provides a minute-by-minute picture of a bodyshop’s health, and that “picture” enables you to meet your promise times, measure your KPIs, monitor your productives’ utilisation and efficiency, monitor your estimators’ performance, identify and minimise Idle Time, maximise the utilisation of your courtesy car fleet, capture all paint mixing costs and reduce time spent on administration tasks.

In addition, our bodyshop management software allows you to measure your profitability against each work provider, as you need to appreciate fully the differences between ‘being busy’ and ‘being profitable’; which is really what EMACS nailed down back in mid-1990s.

Today, there are, of course, competitive bodyshop management systems available but none have matched the standards we set, and EMACS products continue to lead the way, as reflected by our winning of the “Bodyshop Management System – Repairer’s Choice Award” for the last five years. Also, through boosting bodyshop profits, EMACS bodyshop management software typically pays for itself within three months.

However, despite our award-winning sequence, and the rapid return on investment afforded through EMACS products, there is still a relatively slow uptake of management systems. The reason for this is, I believe, that many bodyshops without systems are without that “picture of health” and don’t appreciate that they are falling a long way short of being as profitable as they could be. All the resources are present in the bodyshop but they are being controlled by disparate systems such as spreadsheets, T-cards, paperwork, rubber stamps and Post-It notes. There’s no cohesion. No integration.

Even when a bodyshop owner does appreciate how a management system could revolutionise his business there is still a huge fear of change; of letting go of thosespreadsheets, T-cards and so on. But that’s only natural, so at EMACS we manage the whole installation process, which is always over a weekend so that there’s minimal disruption. Come Monday morning all of the bodyshop’s work in progress will be on the new system. Plus our installation team will remain on site for the first few days of operation, to make sure that everyone is completely comfortable with the new bodyshop management software.

Negotiations with a bodyshop management system supplier should not just be about products, because all the providers make very similar claims in order to compete for business. Nor is product price alone a suitable metric, because you need to know if, how, where and why other costs of ownership might be present.

Importantly though, the level of support should be a major factor. For example, as part of the EMACS installation process the bodyshop gets a free ‘makeover’ which, short of us actually repairing cars, addresses every single aspect of the bodyshop’s business. Post-installation, we provide telephone support from our office – and provide mobile phone numbers for outside of normal office hours.

Since the launch of our business, we have established many long-term partnerships (and friendships) with our customers, many of whom have been with us since the mid-1990s and cannot now imagine bodyshop life without EMACS.

As for the future, EMACS has always kept pace with developments in ICT (Information, Computing & Technology). Without wishing to give too much away, we’re looking at web-based solutions and have also launched our iphone / Android App ARC-Aide to give all the staff information on the move.

In summary, bodyshop management is all about having that clear and cohesive picture of bodyshop health – because if you can’t see what you’re doing you’ll never know whether you’re doing it well or not!

Alan Hargreaves M.I.M.I.
Managing Director
E.M.A. Computer Solutions Ltd.

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