10 Tips for Buying Auto Repair Shop Software
Buying software for your auto repair shop is a major investment. It is important to make sure that you do plenty of research so you know you’ve made the right decision. We have listed 10 tips to help with your research.
#1 Research the Company
Spend time researching the company. Using their website, figure out things like:
- How old the company is
- How many other products and services they offer
- How successful they are
- Who the current leadership is and how long they have been in those roles
- Where the company is located
This will give you a very clear picture of the company you are considering. If their website doesn’t have all of the details you are looking for, make a point to ask the company specifically.
Select a reputable company with a proven history of creating outstanding products and satisfied customers. Companies that seem questionable should be avoided.
#2: Read Customer Reviews
The easiest way to figure out if the auto repair software you are considering is good or not is to read past customer reviews. Spend a considerable amount of time reading through as many as possible. This includes positive and negative reviews. They will give you an idea of the pros and cons about that particular product. Use sources such as:
- The company’s website
- Capterra – A comprehensive online software directory broken down by industry category
- Past Customers – Ask for a list and contact them directly
- The Better Business Bureau
This will allow you to make a more educated decision and see what people have said about that product.
#3: Ensure Compatibility with Everything
Make sure all computers, printers, scanners, and other accessories are compatible with the new software. If you don’t, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. If you rely heavily on a particular printer or accessory that no longer works as a result of your new software system, how will you fix that? Many auto repair shops have computers that are running several different operating systems. This could also create a potential problem. By asking up front if any possible compatibility issues exist, you will be able to make a more informed decision and avoid potential issues.
Another issue to be aware of is what type of technology the software is built on. A lot of the software available for auto repair shops is built technology that is as much as 30 years old. If this is the case, it could create compatibility issues as well as technical support issues. Look for software that uses a database management system and a programming language that is still widely used and supported. This will lower the risk of costly support issues as well as ensure that there is a wide pool of technicians available in the event of a problem.
#4: Be Aware of the Pricing Structure
Does the software you are considering have a complicated pricing structure? If you need to add additional users or workstations, how much will it cost? Are you charged based on the number of users, the number of workstations, or is it a flat fee? Is there a monthly maintenance cost? Understanding these factors in advance will eliminate the possibility of unexpected expenses and surprises in the future.
#5: Find Out What Level of Customer Service Is Offered
If you have a bump in the road, will the company you are considering help you? It is important to understand what level of customer services comes standard with the auto repair software package. This will help avoid the frustrating situation of finding out you need to pay additional money to the company just so they can help you with a problem. Do they offer an extended service plan? Is it a monthly, yearly, or one-time fee? What additional support does it provide? You want to make sure you know if it offers any of the following:
- Phone support
- Email support
- Online chat support
- On-site support
You should also find out what hours these services are available. 24-hour support is best, but if the company does not offer that, ask when they are able to help with your problems. Also make sure to adjust for any time differences associated with being in a different time zone.
#6: Know About Upgrade and Update Frequency and Procedures
Ask the company you are considering how often they release upgrades and updates for their software packages. You should look back over the past 5 to 10 years and see historically what the trend is. Also, ask how you are notified about them. If the company just pushes out updates and upgrades without notifying you, it could cause potential compatibility problems. A company that is good about letting you know could prevent problems from happening in the first place.
#7: Figure Out If the Software Can Be Customized
Depending on your business, you might not be able to use a one-size-fits-all package. Can the package you are considering be sold as individual modules? This would allow you to pick and choose what works best. Understanding this can save you money by making sure you only buy what you need. It is also possible that the software could come in different versions that offer more or less features depending on the price. It is important to select the right package for your individual needs.
#8: Ask For a Demo
Most companies who sell commercial auto repair software offer some sort of demo. It could be an evaluation version of their product or a live webinar demonstration. Either way, it is important to see the product you are considering in action before making a final decision. You will be able to test the look and feel of the software. You will also be able to get an idea of how well you and your staff will be able to interact with it.
#9: Find Out about the Entire Implementation Process
Being aware of how long it will take to implement the new software is crucial. If the company promises a 24 hour turnaround time, will that work for you? What if the turnaround is 48 hours, or longer? Will your company have to make adjustments? Would the implementation be better suited for a slower period of time, like over a holiday weekend? Does the company offer a guarantee about their ability to get your new auto repair software up and running? If they mess up, how will they fix it? Asking for a clear roadmap of the implementation process in writing will clear up any misconceptions you might have.
#10: Understand the Type of Money-Back Guarantee the Company Offers
After spending a large amount of money implementing a new auto repair software package, what happens if you’re not satisfied? Can you get your money back? Will the company put everything back the way they found it? This is perhaps the most important part of any software purchasing decision. Sometimes you won’t know a particular software package is wrong until a few weeks or months down the road. If that happens, you need to be sure you are protected. Talk with the company about how they handle these situations and what has happened in the past. Make sure you are satisfied with their answers. If something sounds wrong, you might want to consider another piece of software.
Gustafson Brothers, Inc
Huntington Beach, CA