The days of the trusty filing cabinet and shoebox of receipts are over. Read the guide below the WMS (workshop management software) and how it can help you manage your business.
Table of contents
- What does WMS stand for?
- What does it do?
- Who uses it?
- What are the benefits of using it?
- Essential features for mechanics
- When is the right time to start using a WMS?
- How to get started with a WMS
What does WMS stand for?
WMS stands for workshop management software (or system). It’s a piece of software typically used by mechanics in auto repair workshops to manage customers, jobs, stock and finances.
What does it do?
A WMS is a piece of software with modules that helps workshops connect different pieces of information related to doing mechanical repair jobs. Each job has a customer (and vehicle) associated with it, parts and labour that contribute to the work, and an invoice that will be issued so you can get paid.
Previously these records may have been hand-written and stored in a filing cabinet, with a different piece of paper created for each stage and no way of quickly seeing every job or invoice for one customer.
A WMS replaces your filing cabinet, folders and shoeboxes by automatically replicating the information gathered at one step and auto-completing the documents required at the next steps. A booking with the customer and vehicle information turns into a job card, a job card turns into an invoice, invoices and receipts turn into your general ledger.
All this helps your team to do their jobs faster.
Who uses it?
Most WMS have features to help at each stage of the workshop job. Depending on the size of the workshop, you may have one person using your WMS or everyone in workshop.
Below is an example of the roles in a workshop and the functions in a WMS that they may use.
|Reception||Making a booking and updating customer information|
|Reception||Sending appointment reminder|
|Reception||Checking in vehicle, creating job card|
|Technician||Clocking on / off job. Adding labour, parts and notes|
|Technician||Checking stock levels, reordering|
|Reception||Creating invoice and scheduling following up communications for 6 or 12 months|
|Bookkeeper||End of month reports, reconciliations|
|Manager||Productivity, sales and reporting|
What are the benefits of using it?
Doing your work faster and more efficiently
Software helps to cut down on data entry and stops you from doing so much busy work. By connecting the data across modules, your team aren’t spending time entering in data that is repeated across the booking, job card or invoice, and they can instead use that time to upsell, add comprehensive notes or chat to the customer.
Getting more sales
Software doesn’t just make it easier to keep more comprehensive information on your customers, it also enables you to use it to do something with that data. If you’re recording WOF or warranty expiry dates you can set up reports on the vehicles that will expire next month. Or, you might use notes from a previous service to upsell a customer when they book in next time, “I see here that your tires are due for a rotation, do you want me to schedule that in for this service?”
Better visibility over profits
The first step to increasing profits is understanding what your current profits are. Specialist software makes it easy to track your sales, your profit margins and identify areas where profit leaks can be plugged up. Tools like time-clocking help your team to invoice the right labour charges every time, so you’re never undercutting your profits by being generous to the customers when you think a job should’ve taken less time.
Essential features for mechanics
Paperless job cards
Generate job cards once vehicles have arrived by automatically converting an estimate into a booking, and a booking into a job. The key information at each stage will be kept so your team don’t need to type it all in again. Reducing errors, saving time.
How many times have you undercharged on a job because you think you could’ve done it faster, only to find out your tech had taken an extra hour to complete the job because there was a problem? Time-clocking tools help to keep labour charges objective so you get paid fairly for the actual work your team have done.
Reach your customers quickly by getting messages straight to their mobile phones, and receive responses in your inbox. Send off messages like “Your car is ready”, “I’m 10 minutes away”. Alternatively, send a batch of messages to lots of customers to remind them of upcoming bookings or service reminders for expiring services, warrants and WOFs.
Linking your WMS to your accounting reporting means your financial reports will be automatically updated with each invoice, stock order and payment received. Most sites see big efficiency savings at end of month and GST payment times. Some WMS will come with accounting functionality built in, or you can integrate your WMS to an accounting package, like Xero.
Stock management helps you keep on top of reordering regular parts and stops you from reordering dead stock. Stock controls help you to keep the right parts on hand when you need it with handy features that alert you when something is running low so you can place an order.
Customer and vehicle database
Keep all your customer information in one spot with a CRM (customer relationship management) system that’s made for managing vehicles as well as contacts. Every interaction with a customer is recorded, as well as vehicle information like next service or WOF date.
When is the right time to start using a WMS?
“I don’t know how much money is in the account at the end of each month”
Paper systems keep things simple but it can mean closing your eyes and hoping for the best when your bills are due. Using a system that combines your incomings and outgoings means you can have full visibility of exactly how you’re tracking for the month. Doing better than expected? Maybe you can take an afternoon off. Not doing so well, you can send out a marketing campaign to fill up your diary.
“I don’t know the status of jobs in the workshop”
When a car is on the shop floor longer than necessary, it’s costing you money. The WIP (work in progress) schedule in a WMS helps you to instantly see the progress of each job with statuses like “arrived”, “in progress”, and “waiting for parts”.
“My team’s spending too much time doing “busy work”
Creating efficiencies with software isn’t just about saving time, its about creating an opportunity to do something else with that time. Imagine spending a few minutes after each job writing notes on what needs to be done next time and scheduling in a follow up reminder rather than handwriting up an invoice.
“I don’t have the right parts in stock when I need them”
A good stock management system can help you keep on top of the stock you use regularly so you’re not creating downtime by waiting for a part to come in from the supplier.
“There’s got to be a better way”
If you’re having this thought every month-end while you’re doing your accounts in the evening, then it’s time to start looking into software to help with your reconciliations and calculating GST. Accounting software can be independent of your workshop software, or combined so your operating information is going straight into your financial reports.
How to get started with a WMS
Most WMS will give you the option of a free trial for 14 or 30 days. In that time, you’ll be able to create jobs, set up customers, email invoices, and a lot more, to see if it’s the right fit for your workshop.