Buying Shop Management Software: 10 Things to Look For

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How to Buy Heavy Duty Shop Management Software

While shop management software can make your job easier, the wrong system can be a real drag. Here are ten things to look for when purchasing your software.

As a heavy-duty repair shop owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate – everything from building trust with your customers to attracting solid technicians. While software can certainly make your job easier, the wrong system can be a real drag – for you, your employees, your customers, and your bottom line.

But here’s the thing: Yes, shop management software can make your job easier, but investing in the wrong system can do a lot more harm than good.

Here at Fullbay we’re committed to helping you make the right decision, so here are ten things to look for when purchasing your software.

1. It’s designed for heavy-duty repair shops.

There’s a huge difference between repairing a pickup and repairing a semi. Correspondingly, there’s an equally huge difference between software designed for a light-duty shop and a heavy-duty one.

Most repair shop software on the market right now is designed for light-duty operations, which means it’s not designed for you. Go with a system that offers everything you need to do your job well, including fleet and PM tracking. Otherwise, you’ll be using a hammer to remove a bolt – not the right tool for the job.

2. It includes built-in service histories.

Want to make the lives of your customers infinitely easier? Look for software that offers built-in service histories. That way, when your customers have to complete their DOT audits, they won’t have to sift through hundreds of paper records – all the information they need will be available electronically in your software system.

As a bonus, if the software you choose has a customer portal, your clients will be able to respond to things like service requests automatically.

3. It tracks technician efficiency.

The best shop management software lets you see what your techs are up to via real-time statistics and reports. You can use that information to make course corrections if necessary, thus bringing in more money and avoiding costly mistakes.

4. It integrates with accounting software.

Managing your shop’s books can be a challenging feat, especially if the accounting system you’re using isn’t connected to your shop software. That’s why we recommend selecting shop management software that natively integrates with accounting software like QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online. This makes the process extremely easy; it can even save you money by reducing the amount of time your employees need to devote to invoicing. Let them deal with actual shop work!

5. It tracks preventive maintenance.

You’ve heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” right? While it’s usually used in healthcare, it also applies to successful shop management. That’s because smart shops serve their customers best by lowering the cost of their customer’s fleet. And preventive maintenance is a whole lot cheaper than dealing with unscheduled repairs and the opportunity cost of not having that truck in service.

But tracking preventive maintenance by hand is a pain. It’s easy to lose track of paperwork, especially if your customer has a sizable fleet or you’ve got extremely busy days. Software that tracks the preventive maintenance for you frees you up to actually do the work.

6. It streamlines your office.

With the right shop management software, you can say goodbye to the month-end headaches that come from having to reconcile what you owe your vendors. That’s because your software will enable your parts team to do the three-way match – that is, matching your vendor bill to what was ordered and what was delivered – as soon as each part arrives.

You should also look for a software system that makes invoicing a breeze. After all, most shops using pen and paper or older systems spend at least 30-40 minutes generating a single customer invoice – and that doesn’t include the time it takes to check that invoice for errors. Compare that with shops using modern technology to generate accurate invoices (complete with all labor and parts) in the time it takes to click a button. Plus, if your system integrates with accounting software (see number four above), then it’ll automatically transfer those detailed invoices and accounting bills into QuickBooks, so you don’t have to.

7. It’s web-based.

Not all software systems are created equally, so choose one that not only securely stores all of your records for you, but also lets you access your important repair shop documentation anywhere, anytime, from any device with an Internet connection. That means you can oversee jobs, sign off on invoices before they’re billed, and track technician productivity – all without setting foot in the shop. Say hello to more vacations and less time shackled to your desk chair.

8. Its updates are automatic.

Sure, server-based software may be better than documenting on paper – at least everything is organized and legible. But these old-school systems often require you to manually update them whenever a new release is available. That’s a quick ticket to headaches and lost hours…oh, and if the update isn’t done properly, the system could crash, which could put you way behind on your work orders.

Instead, opt for a solution that automatically updates with new features and tools without you having to lift a finger. Don’t you already do enough?

9. It doesn’t require a long-term contract.

The last thing you want is to find yourself stuck with software that’s not working for your shop. Look for one that doesn’t lock you into any long-term contracts that will penalize you for leaving. That way, you can evaluate the system and decide whether it’s right for you – and if it’s not, you can stop using it without financial consequences.

10. It offers free support and training.

Every question deserves an answer – a free answer. Walk away from any software company that’s going to charge you to answer your questions or provide you with the training necessary to effectively use its software. You deserve better.

Looking for the very best shop management software on the market? You found it. Demo Fullbay today to see how we can help you boost shop efficiency, recruit techs, improve your margins, and have more time for yourself.


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