Modern workshop management software is designed to assist in the every day running of your business, from taking bookings or raising estimates and invoices to sending regular reminders and statements.
Russell Stanley at Revolution Porsche, who you can see in our Digital Marketing film, uses Autowork, a cloud-based workshop management software system. But there are many such systems available and plenty of options for you to match against your needs and your budget. If you have fellow workshop owners in your network, perhaps consider asking them what system they use and if/how it saves them time.
An online booking system will allow you to create a variety of documents such as Estimates, Job sheets, Invoices, Policy Excess Invoices, Credit Notes and Statements. These give your workshop a professional look that builds your brand, many of the software tools will allow you to customise the document templates by including your own letter head/footer images, logos and even watermarks.
For your customers, online means convenience; they can book on your website rather than trying to catch you on the phone. They can book, for example, in the evening after they have finished work rather than having to try and call you during a busy working day. An online booking system may even allow your customers a way to book an appointment via your Facebook business page.
For your reception team, booking systems enable you to create appointments quickly, entering as much or as little information as required. This information can include facts such as the vehicle registration, make, model and customer details.
An online booking system can also help you increase business if you make good use of the data it provides. This is because some systems can track your customers, produce statements, and present you with charts that show their spend over the past year and previous years. These systems also provide you with access to view each vehicle they own, and the capacity to communicate via email, SMS or by printing promotional materials. Using this data will enable you to send your customers’ reminders, such as when their MOT tests and services are due. These can be printed for posting, but since many people today prefer the convenience of online communications, by email or as an SMS message (which will also be cheaper for you).
You can also perform advanced searches of your data to select appropriate customers for a variety of mass marketing communications such as targeted promotions or special offers. By targeting drivers in this way you can avoid irritating any customers who won’t be interested in your message while also pleasing those who, according to your data, may well be interested in the latest deal that you are offering. (See our Digital Marketing blog, How to use digital and social media to create a simple referral programme).
Some online booking systems also enable stock control; find out which items you have in stock by using search options including keyword search, category, manufacturer, supplier or a combination of these.
So, with an online booking system, you can make life easier for customers and for yourself. There are a lot of online booking systems available; perhaps write down the things you really want from a system and then begin to search for what offers the best fit for the best price. As mentioned above, you can always ask other workshop owners for their thoughts about the system they use.