Product Management News

Latest news and updates from the AutoVitals Product Group including Announcement Release Notes and New Releases

AutoVitals V3.4 Sneak Peak

As we receive feedback from our customers through the Facebook Forum, we continuously improve our products to make them innovative and responsive. In this huddle, Uwe Kleinschmidt discusses the new features coming in the V3.4 release along with showcasing our brand new VibAlerts.

AutoVitals V3.0 Overview

Our technology is constantly improving to help your shop stay up to date and keep our products easy to use. In this huddle, Uwe Kleinschmidt discusses the new features in the 3.0 release, the different ways to get help through our Facebook page, as well as the help.autovitals.com page.

Best Results Require a Process Change

A process change is a vital component to bringing your shop into the 21st century. With our guest panelists, we discuss AutoVital’s role in that process change and use Ben Nielsen’s shop as an example of a success story with incredible results.

Retention Campaign Manager 2.0

For our first Service Advisor Huddle of 2017, our product manager Bianca Torres speaks about the new Retention Campaign Manager and all the features it adds to the retention suite and to the communication with the customer.

From Whiteboard to Digital Control Center

Many benefits come with implementing The Digital Shop®. When Matt Purselle, owner of Revolution in Decatur, GA, started, his first goal was to replace the whiteboard used for tech dispatching and eliminate the running back and forth of service advisor and techs. Two years later Matt is enjoying consistent shop operation, an overall boost in morale, transparency in inspections and educational information for motorists, and unparalleled customer satisfaction.

A Look Back on 2016

2016 was a successful year for AutoVitals and its customers. Uwe Kleinschmidt and Frank Scandura look back on this year’s accomplishments and improvements, as well as speak on how AutoVitals will continue to improve the shop’s process in 2017.

Combine Coaching with Productivity Tools to Win

To understand what the true benefits of AutoVitals are, it is important to see real life success stories. With ATI trainers Bryan Stasch and Michael Bennett, Uwe Kleinschmidt discusses how particular shops became more profitable by applying coaching and using SmartFlow.

8 Keys to Selling Auto Service

You’ll need to know your customers’ buying habits as well as their service histories. You should always request your first-time customers’ service records

Digital Supervisor Training

This month our guest speakers were our digital supervisor trainers who explained what digital supervisor training is and how it will benefit the shop. Customers who have attended the training also speak on how much it has changed their process.

The Digital Shop® Tablet Subscription

After we discontinued the iPad Mini 1 support, we realized that a new service to maintain the productivity of technicians was needed. We called our partner Apple and came up jointly with a solution we are now ready to offer to all shops. Introducing the Technician Productivity Warranty Plus!

The Winning Formula: SmartFlow + Coaching

Although AutoVitals has tremendous experience in training shops on best practices for The Digital Shop, we are not a business-coaching company nor is that our intention in strategy. Our formula is instead, to combine the best-in-class experience the business coaches in the industry have to offer with our product expertise.

Keep Your Team On Track with SmartFlow Trends

SmartFlow allows to track key performance indicators (KPI), which are hard to come by using the traditional paper way. For example the inspection rate and the number of recommended actions the technicians adds for each inspection are highly important. Are those KPIs graphed as trends over time, the shop owner, manager and the whole team have a clear picture of how the shop is improving and can document the measures needed for the team to take the shop to the next level.

Reliability and New Benefits with Shop Approval

We have been releasing software at a high pace with user interfaces for new features and benefits based on our research and your feedback. In this process we need to adjust the measures for reliability and usability. The immediate focus is on a stable TVP2.0 and the Google Drive based application for viewing inspection results on devices of any size and storing the results in a gmail or Google for work account of your choosing.

Instructions to Improve your SmartFlow Fitness Results

How do I interpret my SmartFlow Fitness results? First let’s review your overall score, then the score at the router.   Overall Score Perfect You’re good to go! You have great WiFi coverage and internet speed, every area completed the Fitness test in 10 seconds or less and you can use your tablets reliably in all areas of the shop. Not Perfect Most shops will fall into this category. This means one or more areas where you ran your test took more than 10 seconds to complete which is typically caused by a lack of WiFi coverage, WiFi interference or insufficient bandwidth on your internet connection. The next step is to analyze your results at the router. Needs Work Stop! Do not pass go! Tablets will run slowly or not at all so there’s some work to be done before your shop can move into the digital age. Most likely there’s either a very poor WiFi connection, faulty equipment or a slow internet connection. Keep reading to learn how to improve! Router Score Perfect If you see Perfect results near the router, but Not Perfect or Needs Work in other areas of the shop this is typical of insufficient WiFi range or WiFi interference. This means that tablets will work great in some areas of the shop but may be slow or lose connection in areas farther from the router like the parking lot which will slow down your technicians. The good news is that a perfect score at the router means that the internet connection to the shop is fast and there are no apparent issues with the router...

Reports Prepared Right And A Clue For Your Service Advisor

Not all Point of Sale (PoS) software installations have the ability to define such customer sources, and even if they offer it, it is a flat list of source codes, which is great at first glance only. The benefit of defining many different customer sources and precisely track expenses, is quickly eliminated by the inability to digest information from reports with that many different sources. Read how AutoVitals helps you overcome this challenge.

What Is A Brand Style Guide and Why Does My Business Need One?

Time and Money Well-Spent Do you have multiple versions of your logo in all sorts of file formats and variations? Not enough businesses take the time to create a company brand style guide. If you aren’t sure of what your brand looks like, then your customers are confused and are having a disjointed experience as well. A clear visual identity is essential in establishing brand engagement, especially in the market of auto repair where your customers have many choices. At it’s core, a brand is meant to represent much more than just style; it’s consistency relays a reputation of reliability, positive tone, attention to detail, and presents your company’s unique identity. Where exactly will I use a branding guide? EVERYWHERE! A custom-created style guide defines what your company’s brand elements are and the details of how they should be applied across all visual media. This guide ensures that you’re consistently putting forth the same representation of your brand across the wide breadth of Internet, print, and broadcast. Communicating with too many different styles or voices can compromise a brand’s image — retracting these inconsistencies and their repercussions becomes increasingly difficult over time. Whether it be your shop sign visible from the road, a business card at next week’s local Rotary Club meeting, or especially your website, there are opportunities for motorists to form their first impression of you. How can different fonts and treatment affect brand recognition for your potential customers? Both of these logos are a golden ‘M’ but when you look at these symbols, only ONE of them is immediately associated with food. Depending on your relationship...

Quick Wins with SmartFlow

Our SmartFlow product has many features that can be implemented quickly and improve your shop flow immediately. With the help of one of our trainers, Lindsay, we have put together some of the best ways to make quick changes in your shop.

5 Reasons Why You Should Add Mobile AdWords To Your Marketing Strategy

When a prospective customer is on the go and looking for car service, they’re likely going to search for it on their phone’s browser. To the left is an example of an optimized mobile ad — it appears at the very top of the page, is large and eye-catching, and fills up your entire phone screen. When you need something fast, why wouldn’t you click the first thing you see? No matter how well a shop is ranking organically, you’ll always have to scroll past to find your mobile listing. Utilizing ad space is something to consider, especially to outrank the competitor who’d purchase that coveted first spot. How much you choose to spend on marketing all depends on your shop’s individual goals — maybe you just need a handful of new phone calls during a slow week or maybe you need a few months of help to bolster a brand new franchise location. No matter what the case is, Mobile Google AdWords will get your name found. In today’s mobile-first world where people are searching for where they want to be next while they’re already on the road, Mobile AdWords is the next step any small business should take to give their shop an extra boost. 1. Google AdWords allows you to reliably reach your target audience AdWords functions as a bidding system, as in you only pay Google when someone interacts with your ad. While you can pick and choose the exact keywords to be promoted for, competitors can select the same keyword profile. It’s then up to you to decide how high you’re willing to bid...

Celebrating the 10th AutoVitals Partner Workshop

When we started the workshop idea 10 months ago, we tried a new concept and we are happy to report that it is working!
Shop Owners, Service Advisors and Technicians have visited the workshop, some even twice, and your feedback encourages us to keep going. The AutoVitals Partner Workshop is designed to gather SmartFlow veterans, new clients and shops, who want to know more about SmartFlow in one place.

Inspection Revision Manager

Sometimes Service advisors and technicians edit an inspection sheet during the same time and create conflicts. This can now resolved by comparing the versions and select the correct one.

Uploading Indicator for Inspection Images

Images and voice recordings are now uploaded separately from the other activities on the tablet. that means you can keep doing other stuff on the work order or inspection while the image is uploading. If the internet is slow or the number of images is high or both, then the images arrive later on the TVP, this will be marked with the image below on the work order or inspection result.

Issues with Google My Business Pages

Uh-Oh Google We recently discovered that the Google Plus My Business Listings for several shops are now appearing as unverified and no longer rank in search results pages. Upon visiting the shop profile pages, we found that almost all information is missing, including contact information, review summaries, and photos. Investigation After immediately launching an investigation, we learned that Google is currently experiencing technical problems and we have also found a remedy to manually fix the pages ourselves. Google has assured us that this is a temporary issue and they are working on an overall solution, but they have yet to issue a formal statement.       Solution If you discover that your shop’s Local Listing and Business page are affected by this issue, fill out the form below. We are in the process of fixing this issue for you at no cost for AutoVitals web presence customer. If you are not a web presence customer, we can fix it for $175. Once Google releases any news about the matter, we will send out updates to you.       To Fix My Google Listing, fill the form out below Are you an existing AutoVitals Shop?*What is your Shop Name?*What is your Address?*What is your Email...

Inspection Metrics Re-Visited

100% inspection rate is a recommend procedure, but often the question is raised “Why should we re-inspect a vehicle, which is coming in within 2 weeks of the previous visit?”.

Monitor and Protect Profitability

With the latest SmartFlow version, the service advisor can see tech efficiency in real-time on his control panel. Lets look how this new feature helps you to protect your profitability.

KeyTag and Selling at Vehicle Drop-Off

Selling Declined Jobs and Inspection Results Made Easy In this release we added a few enhancements, which help the service advisor selling more jobs, help the tech identifying the vehicle faster and email and text with customers whose vehicle is not in the shop. In addition we offer trend graphs on your most important KPIs. This allows a quick check whether everybody is on track while introducing best practices in your shop.   Know your Sales Potential We have added more information at one glance to the vehicle tile in the workflow view. You will be able to immediately identify, what your selling potential is. Check whether there are inspection results from recent visits available. If there is no inspection result available, the following image is visible. Often selling trends on inspection results is the most effective way of educating motorists about wear and tear impact on their vehicle. We will show how many current recommended actions are on the inspection result and how many of those have data from a previous or past visit. In the image below 11 recommended actions are from the current inspection (clock icon) and 3 of them have matching data from previous or past visits. How many recommended actions were on the most recent inspection result. These have the potential to be added to today’s work order, if your or our service advisor identified them as welcome information to educate the motorist at vehicle drop-off. The image below shows the amount of 6 recommended action from an inspection in the past (red history icon) In addition you can see whether the images have been edited using the image editor...

TopFuel Trains You and Your Service Advisor

Know and Improve Conversion Rates Using Smart Data The majority of customer conversion happen on the phone. Hands down. Do you know how many leads have tried to reach you or interacted with your service advisor and didn’t buy? Do you know what an effective phone call sounds like? Do you want to track your service advisor’s performance over time and let continuous improvement help you to get more customers? How do you measure your service advisors’ phone call effectiveness today? Thought so. Check out this article and see whether TopFuel’s newest feature set will benefit you. TopFuel in conjunction with Vital Retention and SmartFlow provide the most comprehensive yet still easy to read business summary in the industry. See below for a typical score card. Nothing is hidden.   Phone calls are the most important lifeline for an auto repair shop. When phone call tracking is provided, many shop performance metrics can be measured and improved. We have spoken with a few shop owners and determined that the following important information and capabilities need to be provided: Classify the phone call based on whether it was a conversion of a prospective customer and cluster all calls based on their duration Allow the owner to listen to all recordings Allow the owner to compare the phone calls amongst each other and also with a reference call to teach the service advisor the best possible outcome Plot the results over time to see how the improvements kick in Step 1: Check the summary page to get a first overview and what has been going on Once the ‘Details’ on the business summary for...

Keeping Up with the Local Search Ecosystem

When we began promoting local businesses in 2009, getting a site to the front page of a Google search was as simple as adding the shop to a handful of business directories. Nowadays, the local landscape is incredibly more complex and competitive. Data aggregators feed information to business directories, business directories share information with one another, listings create themselves, and to successfully compete, it’s necessary to add a shop to niche and industry-specific directories, as opposed to just the big names, like Yelp and YellowPages. In today’s local SEO world, keeping an accurate and consistent local directory listing for your business is a must. Search engines like Google and Bing scan through listings from many different sources and use it to form a conclusion about your shop’s information. It’s important to understand that search engines and data aggregators don’t necessarily have a permanent database for Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) information. In this sense, local search is a sensitive ecosystem, where the relationships between different search engines, data aggregators, and business directories is constantly in flux. These types of sites collect data regularly, so just one or two incorrect or new listings can influence your overall search appearance. As a data aggregator, like Infogroup, pushes data to a business directory, like Citysearch, the information will eventually end up in your search engine results. Good SEO is all dependent on data consistency and trying to catch the mistakes as soon as possible. Actively finding or creating your business directory listings and claiming them is an important step because it verifies that a) you are the owner of a valid business...

Smart Markers at Work

Are you running a fast lane and a mechanical lane in your shop and appreciate every second saved for technician and service advisor?

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

The Teamwork Meter in SmartFlow Good Teamwork is the main ingredient for high profitability and low attrition in your shop. Technicians, who can rely on service advisors to sell work for them based on inspections results are happy campers. Service advisors, who receive thorough inspections from Technicians with recommended actions  backed up by images of the problem areas,  will happily make the sale. Vice versa, if a tech (who is unpaid for inspections like the majority of technicians today)  sees that only a fraction of their recommended actions are sold by the service advisor as jobs,  their motivation to uncover and recommend real vehicle problems goes out the window and  pencil whipping or over-recommending  and all of the consequences that come with doing so become a daily routine. In return the service advisor stops putting any recommendations on the estimate afraid that they might blow up in their face right in front of the customer, and eventually the only jobs that will be approved are the ones the customer came in for.   Shop Owners, who continue looking for ways to turn their teams into well oiled machines with high performance techs and service advisors ask the question: “How can I measure and adjust teamwork for better performance?”     Since so much is dependent on mutual confidence and trust between technicians and service advisors, we developed the industry’s first  report assessing how well techs and service advisors work together. You can find the link to it on the Inspection Metrics Report page (see image above) called Shop Efficiency Reports Graph. The first chart you will see is a...

SmartFlow Special Markers Addition

Workflow and TechView Simplified In the latest SmartFlow edition we have added a third special marker for more flexibility when describing vehicle specifics for service advisors and technicians and simplified the communication with motorists. The envelope button has been eliminated and turned into a simple link with three different meanings for communication with the motorist: The motorist can be emailed (name and link are solid black) The motorist can’t be electronically reached (name is grey and link dotted) The motorist has texted back and is awaiting an answer (name and link are in red and flashing) This is unified for both the workflow and technician view. A third special marker has been added and we will introduce more features around them. Stay tuned. For now it allows to add a third important attribute of the vehicle visible to the service advisor and staff. Note that only two markers are visible on the tablet for the time being.  ...

The Power of Invisible Information: What You Need to Know About Rich Snippet

The Power of Invisible Information What You Need to Know About Rich Snippet Today’s consumer necessitates that a shop owner recognize the importance of online marketing. Websites need to take advantage of every available opportunity to entice searchers to click on their page instead of a competitor’s. Rich snippet provides the perfect outlet to embellish their search results with add-ons like ratings and thumbnails to draw the searcher’s eye as well as offer additional information. So what are rich snippets? At their very simplest, rich snippets are a small line of text which accompanies a search result link. They describe the site’s relevance to the user’s search query, with the exact keywords highlighted in bold. Google added rich snippets back in 2008 to give users a better search experience and allow them to make quick, informed decisions about a website’s relevance to their search needs. Rich snippet functions differently for their designated business types, whether it be for restaurants, recipes, movies, music, videos, etc. It can easily be inserted into site templates so that the code appears on every relevant page and for every search keyword. For example, correct rich snippet usage for a recipe has it’s own template that includes information like cook time and ingredient list, lending a search result like so. Ultimately, the appearance of rich snippet in a search result is dependent on the markup code used by the developer and Google’s trust in the website that is it being implemented in. Although we’ve utilized rich snippet correctly from the start, Google began showing AutoVitals’ rich snippet results only after an 18 month vetting process.   For our shops, the rich...

All Vehicle Actions at ONE Glance

Often the Today’s Vehicles Page (TVP) is populated with lots of vehicle tiles. Shops with lots of tiles need quick access to all actions, which are not immediately available on the work order.

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