Scott Newton is one of the lucky few who has made a business from his passion. In this article, we talk to him about how he’s using software to maximise productivity and profits at City Honda Manawatu.

Have you always used dealer/workshop management in your businesses?

“I’ve used Orion for 20+ years, ever since I started as an apprentice, so I’ve always known the value the software provides. When I started by first motorcycle workshop, I knew I should get software in place but wanted to keep costs down and figure out our processes first.  

When I look back at it now, you wouldn’t question running a business without a system like that in place straight away. Yes, it’s a cost but it would cost you a lot more to run it with pen and paper.”

What were the biggest differences you noticed when you started using management software in the workshop?

“The biggest difference was the amount of time we were saving by cutting down on typing time and searching through the filing cabinet for records. We saved 10 minutes per job using SAM’s paperless job cards. Originally, we had our own job card templates and the guys would fill this in with the customer info, vehicle details, labour charges and parts. Mistakes would happen and the wrong charges would be entered.

We also started saving a lot of time when a customer called up we had to search the filing cabinet for the old job cards and invoices to find out what was done last time. With SAM we could just look up their record and everything was in there.

It really changed the whole shape of the company from generally just grabbing stuff off the shelves, manually writing receipts or not knowing what our margins were.”

When you bought your 2nd business, did you wait again to implement a dealer management system?

“When I bought City Honda Manawatu there was no question about bringing in Orion straight away.

Mike came onsite, trained us, continued to train us for 10 years. It’s awesome Mike came onsite, trained us, continued to train us for 10 years. It’s awesome to have 1-on-1 training, the team take a lot more note of someone right there teaching them.

How does the DMS help your business?

It helps us to be adaptable

“The reporting helps to scale up or down when needed. It’s a bit of work getting the data right, but you do find ways to save money here and there. When COVID hit we needed to cut costs, the data in Orion helped us make those decisions quickly and the business was much healthier for it. Another way I use it is to review the staff performance. If their performance drops then I can have a conversation and address it.

Good data can send you in the right direction and help you chase the right things and not the wrong things.

It’s invaluable to be able to see trends and anticipate when we need to bring in more staff. Our reporting goes back years, so we can see those patterns. I know when our highs and lows are so we know that during high time we bring people in on short-term contracts because in a few months there will be a low.”

It’s increased our productivity, and our profitability in turn.

“Time-clocking has been great to monitor productivity. We monitored charges for jobs before time-clocking so we could have a before and after comparison. The results showed we were undercharging. There might be a six-hour job but we only charged for four hours because that’s what we think it should take, but we weren’t taking into consideration the factors that made the job six hours. We had to get team adding notes to the job cards so we knew what those factors were. If the customer questioned the price we had the notes and the exact start and end times to refer back to.

The team weren’t so keen at first but the before and after helped to convince them that it was about charging out jobs correctly, not monitoring them. I spent a bit of time talking to the team about the relationship between business performance and pay, if the performance in the workshop lifts, then we can lift their pay.”

We can track new sales opportunities

“We get a lot of people coming in to look for specific brands and models of bikes. If John Smith came in looking for a Honda CRF 250 and we didn’t have one in stock at the time, we couldn’t call him back when we did have one in stock. The details might have been written down on a piece of paper somewhere on the sales desk.

In Orion we can record the details, call people back and make the sales. The prospecting tool is a lot more to manage, but it’s not about what’s happening today, it’s about getting a prospect list ready. When things go bad, we’re ready to reach out to this list. Even now when things are pretty good, we’ve used the prospecting tool to move stock because we’ve been able to go back and see who was interested in that make or model.”