Product Management News

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

Your Daily SmartFlow Inspiration

Do you remember how you learned to tie your shoelaces, drive a car, or play your favorite team sport? You went through the 4 phases of competence every single time. Why are they important? Ask a policeman, firefighter, athlete on the field, pilot, SWAT team member, operator of a complex machine, etc.

Immediate Benefits from the Inspection Metrics Report

The Inspection Metrics Report is probably the most valuable report in your business to gain insight in how service advisors and technicians work together. With the addition of the Word Order Composition Details trainers, owners and manager have now an invaluable tool to identify changes in tech and service advisor behavior.

What to Expect with the New Google Plus

In the last week Google has implemented a full redesign of their social media platform, Google Plus. The new site is more mobile friendly, simplified, and streamlined — a more “focused”, interest based user experience that comes at the cost of some of it’s other features. It’s readily apparent that Google has decided to emphasize communities, aspiring to be the ideal place for like-minded individuals to interact. They have put two of their features, Communities and Collections, at the front and center. According to Google, these changes are in response to the input of their most active users. Google reports have shown that their Communities feature attracts nearly 1.2 million new users every day, while Collections, implemented just earlier this year, has been growing just as quickly. Collections creates a group of dashboard content based on just one tagged topic, while a Community allows people with the same interest to start a conversation about that connection and more. The goal of both of these forefront features is to allow the user to follow other users’ posts on specific topics, without having to constantly wade through unrelated posts. The new Google Plus also lays a heavy emphasis on being mobile-friendly. Rebuilt for both Android and iOS, the app is clean and eye appealing, takes hardly any time to load, and it’s easy to navigate and operate. Google has also removed some of the clutter located at the bottom of every post, making it straightforward to +1, comment, and share. Although the change is fitting to their new, simplified aesthetic, it appears that this update has been detrimental to My Business...

Sales Tool for Service Advisors – Built Into SmartFlow

Every touchpoint with motorists is an opportunity to educate. You knew that already. For some service advisors the vehicle drop-off touchpoint is a time to rush because too many things have to be done to get the motorist back home or work and let the technicians get to work.

Emission and Safety Inspections are Too Important 

Customize your Inspection Reminder Vital Retention, AutoVitals’ CRM component of the Smartflow Engagement Suite, has had always the possibility to configure emission test reminders. We have made this completely universal with the latest release. No matter what Inspection, you can customize it to your needs. Check the steps below and Happy Customizing!   Setup Step 1: AutoVitals kicks it off Contact your AutoVitals Product Advisor and let them know what job codes or job names on your invoice should be monitored. They will configure it shown below in our backend for you. A typical Job Name would be “STATE SAFETY INSPECTION” Setup Step 2: You finish it Go to your ‘MyShop’ page and click on “State Inspection Reminder” on the left. Then enable the reminders. It will show you all the different customization options. Please follow the marked numbers in the image below to explore the rich variety of options. The Inspection Name is the Word Sequence, which will be used for the title and wording (4) of the reminder text Tell us the due date frequency in multiples of a year. The reminder settings determine the content and frequency of the reminder ONCE the due date has been hit This section shows what wording you can expect in the reminder. “emission test” is copied from the title automatically. The follow up reminders (2nd, 3rd, etc.) are controlled by either the service reminder setting or one after 4 weeks Feel free to add any text Attach a coupon Preview how he email will look like Activate the...

You Wanted More Than Inspection Results. Here it is!

Configure the Email to Your Customers on the Work Order Part 2 of the TVP update includes the ability to configure the information to be emailed to the customers right at the work order. 1. Select the Information In the image below the possible selections are illustrated. Check the Checkbox to add all jobs to the inspection results report Select the OEM recommendations to be added to the report Explore and select the TSBs/Recalls to be added to the report Send the current status of the inspection report to the SmartFlow Add-On integrated with your POS 2. Preview the Information before you hit “Send Message” Once you are in the communication pop-up (launched from the ‘envelope’ icon on the workflow view or from the customer name link on the tech view) you can now preview what information will be sent to the customer. The following images below show you the corresponding tabs open as they were selected in the work order pop up. Respectively OEM Recs and TSBs and Recalls are visible.   Last but not least the creation of the pdf to print is possible from the communication pop up as well (5 in the image...

Images Sell – When do YOU start Digital?

Edit Images in a Heartbeat The latest change on the Today’s Vehicles Page (TVP) makes the service advisor’s life even easier. Browsing the work order is now possible in a big floating window on the TVP. No close -reopen – close – open another WO anymore. The WO window stays open as long as you wish. You can do actions now in parallel. I predict that you won’t close the WO window anymore: just click on another vehicle title and the WO content refreshes in a heartbeat. Sending an email in parallel to an open work order? No Problem.   Browse and Edit Images In addition we have incorporate the image browser and editor into the WO Window, no matter whether images are on the work order and the inspection sheet. See the image below for an example using the inspection results report (Click on the image for more details). Clicking or tapping the work order button (1 in the image) opens the WO window with all information about the vehicle (2). You can see that all inspection topics are editable. Just click the pencil icon and modify the content.   Clicking on any vehicle image opens the image browser and editor. Clicking/tapping on the arrows will allow you to browse the images per topic/job.   Using red arrow and circle elements as well as the dimming effect turns a great image into an educational masterpiece. Check out in the image below how using the dim effect turns the attention to the detail within the red circle. Note that editing an image will create automatically a copy. Changed your...

The True Power of TopFuel

We are being asked what is so different about TopFuel compared with the many other offerings in the market? Are we just chasing Google in a temporarily better way and it will be a fluke soon? Are we just lucky?

Communication with your Customer from the Tech View

Sending Inspection Results with Two Clicks Your feedback has been implemented. Now you can communicate with your customer electronically directly from the TechView. Inspection reports are ready to be sent and land only two clicks later in your customers inbox. Please see the image below for more details       Click on the Customer Name the communication pop up selects automatically the notify tab and the inspection results are automatically selected and all it takes is check the inspection preview and press the ‘Send Message’ button Done  ...

How To Take Screenshots Fast

High Speed Screenshots – Shared By Link I have been asked how take screenshots and share with other folks easily. There are dozens of solutions out there. We have standardized on two services, which work very well. Google Drive to store the images and SnagIt to capture and edit the images fast Google Drive is a free service, which comes with every gmail account or Google Apps for Work. It also is available as executable for Mac and PC as well as mobile. So every device can be used to store and share any type of document. SnagIt is integrated with many available storage service, such as DropBox or Google Drive. Once Snagit is installed, configure the Google Drive account using your email address by clicking on settings,… and then configure the default folder on your google drive where all captured images or videos can go (Yes, SnagIt supports video capturing as well). Make sure the google folder is available for access from anybody outside your gmail account. Once finished, the Google Drive icon can be pressed to store any picture or video captured with SnagIt. Once you have SnagIt installed it puts a red capture button into the upper right corner of your screen. So. once you are on a page you want to capture a picture or video of you press the capture button select the window you want to capture press the Google Drive button, which stores it in your account, and puts the link to it on your clipboard paste (Ctrl V) a link to the image/video into an email or document....

Taking a NAP? Your Local SEO Company Shouldn’t!

Let’s clarify why the heck a tracking phone number exposed to Google can create so much local SEO damage. The short answer is: The so-called NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) continuity will be disrupted for a long, long time because it is hard to recover.
Google’s “fake-business-police” crawler might deindex your listing.

Training is 1 of 4 Pillars of Success!

Training is often seen as too costly. The equation time = money, or better saving a lot of time = saving/creating a lot of money never came to mind.
Some people call it penny smart and dollar foolish.

Standard Operating Procedures

A Cheat Sheet for Your Service Advisor, Technician and Yourself Scheduling an Appointment A job to-be-performed A declined job Diagnostics and Test Results Inspection Results OEM or other Service Recommendations Technician Part Estimated Item (Part and Job)  Add an item (e.g., a part or job)Assign vehicle, job etc. to technicianComplete item (job or inspection)Authorize a jobUse TeE-Time to clock in, out, and select activities like "Waiting for parts"Email (or text message where possible) documents and/or links to motorist  ICONS How to use the Standard Operations Page (SOP) Instructions The following page describes each step in the recommended workflow and how Service Advisors and Technicians use the Point of Sales software (POS), SmartFlow and the tablet. Each element on the estimate (dotted line square) and work order (solid lined square) is represented by an icon (see below) and an additional icon listed below explains what is being done with the element in the workflow step. Scheduling an Appointment   A job to-be-performed   A declined job   Diagnostics and Test Results   Inspection Results   OEM or other Service Recommendations   Technician   Part   Estimated Item (Part and Job)     Add an item (e.g., a part or job) Assign vehicle, job etc. to technician Complete item (job or inspection) Authorize a job Use TeE-Time to clock in, out, and select activities like “Waiting for parts” Email (or text message where possible) documents and/or links to motorist   Go to the workflow step below and expand the section by clicking on the header segment. Lets start with the first step: Clock In  (for clients not using TeE-Time please skip to Waiting on Drop Off)   Click here to learn more about SOP...

Finger Action to Dispatch Technicians and Vehicles

Today you write up the work order and need to assign the technicians based on their availability. How do you know their availability? Uh…, hm…., &^%(*@ – you have no idea. Or you use sloooowwww methods like a white board, an online calendar, a piece of paper or you give up dispatching and let the technicians grab their first vehicle. Right? Right, but aren’t you looking for a method to control the situation and do it fast?

Service Advisor and Technician Performance Report

  Check Your Shop’s Performance Daily Your Point of Sale software (POS) offers an abundance of reports. These reports are all based on the numbers entered into the POS. Certain KPIs not captured in the SMS are not measurable or guesstimated and make building a strong team difficult. Metrics such as Technician Efficiency and Productivity Adherence to the 300% rule* and Rate of canned jobs as recommended action on the Inspection sheet can only be determined with additional data from the inspection and time capture system.   Lets take a look at the latest Inspection metrics report we added to SmartFlow in the reports section: Select the time period you want to check The number of vehicle visits completed (RO closed out) Number of inspections done to those vehicles Number of inspections emailed to customers Number of recommended actions by the technician on the tablet Number of recommended actions turned into jobs on the estimate Number of approved jobs Number of declined jobs Each technician’s inspection performance and overall performance It is now easy to identify the potential for improvements on this performance report. The most glaring potentials for improvement on the report are: Only 62.5% of the vehicles received an inspection Only 44 of 186 recommended actions made it to the estimate In summary only 26 of 186 recommended actions have been approved by the motorist. In addition all the details about the jobs recommended and (not) put on the estimate can be downloaded. Below is a spreadsheet snippet showing the details. Can you see the huge potential uncovered with this report? Go and use...

Inspection Results on your Smartphone

Motorists on the Move Inspection results show motorists the current state of their vehicle. Digital inspection results show more than just green, yellow or red. They show images of the state the vehicle is in, mint conditions as well as problem areas. Educational information including videos answer the two most important questions “Why do it now?” and “What happens if not done?”. The perfect vehicle health report, don’t you think? Proposals how to increase that health are explained and are waiting to be authorized. The big question is: When do motorists want to see inspection results and make decisions? Motorists are on the move, educating them at the counter has been often replaced by sending emails to their home or work desktop and lately to the smartphones when on the move. How can an inspection results report be presented so it is easily studied? Check out the image below. It shows inspection results rendered on a desktop (1) as well as on a smartphone (2). Ready to educate the motorist.   How do you switch this feature on in SmartFlow? Activate the FailSafe mode described here using a shop specific gmail or Google Apps for Work email address (If you use AutoVitals Retention Service, this email address is already set up) Configure whether the inspection results should be emailed by web page, attached pdf-document or both in the inspection settings as shown below. Happy emailing!!                  ...

New Video Reports Show Tech’s Mojo

Consistency of Inspections can be Measured with SmartFlow Have you ever wondered how to find out whether all technicians have adopted to the new digital technology with SmartFlow? Compared with the paper based shop process an unprecedented wealth of data is available. This post is the first one in a series to come describing the new opportunity to improve shop productivity using a digital inspection process. One of the first concerns of a shop owner after introducing the digital inspection is whether or not technicians have adjusted to the new technology. The following post describes how to generate a video report about how consistently technicians perform an inspection based on the time the technician takes when finishing an inspection on the tablet over the number of images taken  with the tablet. The time on the tablet is the net-time it takes to document the findings, not including the time on the vehicle. Let’s assume the shop policy is to take 8 images per inspection. Thus we can draw a circle around all data points (net-time over number of images) for every day during the observation period. In the example in this post we assume the reference to be 0.1 hours for documenting the findings on the tablet including 8 images. The image below show the ideal area for this assumption.   Lets look at a the result for on technician. We sanitized the data and call the technician Tech 4. Check out below the results of all inspections done for 6 weeks. As you can see Tech 4 is still trying to find his/her mojo. The good news is...

What does Responsive Web Design really get me?

Mobile Friendly is Not Enough, or is it? Since April 21 2015 Google conceals websites in mobile search, which do not meet the absolute basics of mobile web design like clearly legible wording without zooming in tapping a button without hitting more than one (You wanted to cancel the order? Oops, the ‘Order’ button was too close to the ‘Cancel’ button.) getting the message of the website across without scrolling horizontally for ever and many more. Google calls it mobile-friendly. Why is that important? Mobile users have exceeded the number of desktop users last year.  It is time to establish a standard, which doesn’t make users of mobile devices question their purchase. It has to be convenient, simple and functional. Google just leveraged its power to get it done a little faster. But is it enough? We don’t think so. We have been providing now-called ‘mobile friendly’ websites for 4 years. No big deal. What is the big deal? In one word: Engagement. Firehosed with information, we tend to desperately filter for relevant information in the ocean of pictures and words hitting our brain every day. Think of a brain’s gatekeeper as this filter.  When the information hits our eyes, it needs to be pleasing and ergonomic to be passed on and be processed. If stopped prematurely we won’t remember anymore and check something else. Done. Lost. Never come back. That is where Responsive Web Design comes in. Responsive means that no matter the size of the device, the website will always be rendered for maximum effectiveness, which secures the biggest impact in the short time the attention span of the brain’s gatekeeper allows. Please see below for...

The Next Chat is Yours

Assigning and Messaging the Techs is Easy now Two new changes have been introduced with this release. On the Workflow View the vehicle can now be moved between the workflow steps. Just drag the vehicle with mouse or finger on a touch screen and move it to the right workflow step. The vehicle to be moved down a position will pulse visibly so you can make sure it is the right one. On the Tech View the vehicle can now be assigned to a technician by a simple drag and drop Messaging the techs is now possible directly from the vehicle tile. The Service Advisor’s Initials are visible on the vehicle tile in both views, the Workflow and Tech View. The new chat icon is now present in both views as well. In addition the tech alert window allows you to chat back to the technician right from the alert. And when you get a message it will indicate this by the indicator visible on this page on the right.  In the Tech View the assignment of the technician(s) can be done with drag and drop now. If the vehicle has no assigned tech and is in the ‘No Tech’ column, a simple Drag and Drop to the technician performing all or the majority of the jobs will assign them automatically. A pop up will ask you whether the assignment should be changed or not. A simple close or using the drop down for changes of one or more jobs makes it super easy. check the video below Assign a Tech with Drag ‘n Drop In addition vehicles can be moved...

Mobile Unfriendly? Don’t Mess With Google.

This post is not for owners of a smartphone, who are unfriendly. This post is for people, who own a website, which is important for their business and who, for some reason, have missed that Google will change is ranking algorithm on April 21st so that mobile searches are treated differently than before

Inspection Results not Accessible? Not going to happen!

ALWAYS ON! Have you activated your personal Google Drive to store all inspections results? Hm, then let’s do it now! You probably have heard of Google Drive. If not, I promise after reading this post you will appreciate it as a tool you wish you knew a long time ago. With our latest implementation, we have made Google Drive your unlimited memory in the “cloud” holding all  your inspection results from now on. No matter whether all AutoVitals employees get hit by a bus or you can’t, for some annoying reason, access your shop specific AutoVitals webpage with your urgently needed inspection results, they will still be accessible in your shop specific Google Drive folder. All you need is a free gmail address. Or a Google Apps for Work email address. If you are a user of our retention service, we have already created one for you, most likely called ‘[email protected][your shop domain].com’. Just to be clear: from now on, your inspection results are always on, no matter what happens, unless Google and AutoVitals have an outage at the same time. You probably have a higher chance to hit it big in Vegas (and then you don’t need our services anymore). How the Setup Works - You need to do this only once! First you set up your shop specific gmail address in AutoVitals. Go to the shop management setup in the inspection settings and enter the gmail address you want to use (not sure, how to create a Google account? go here to find out) Then you log onto that gmail address and open a second tab and go...

SmartFlow: Tablet Accessories for Technicians

Best Use of Tablets For SmartFlow Many of you have become very creative when incorporating the tablet for best use by technicians. This article attempts to spark different ideas and is designed to help you using as much experience other shops went through already as possible. How to mount a tablet to the toolbox, using different flashlights, what size is best, what cases exist and how to keep the tablet with you all the time, and many more topics will be covered. Please take the following list as recommendation and if you could send us your solutions we will add them to this page as fast as we can.   The Right Tablet, Size and Brand Criteria for selecting the best tablet type are Needs to be reasonably priced (less than $400 including case, ideally around $300) Easily held with one hand over a considerably longer time while the other hand is used to operate the tablet or performs other operations outside of the tablet Fast and robust handling of the application (no double taps needed, selection always responsive etc.) The winner hands down has been for the last two years the iPad Mini. The lack of a built-in flashlight can be compensated with measures described below. The Right Case for the Right Scenario Cases are available in abundance. Below you see a selection of three different case configurations for the iPad Mini. The most left makes sure the screen is protected and the case is sturdy and robust enough to handle dirt, liquid and drops. Griffin Technology and Otterbox offer the most reliable cases known to us. The case in the center...

Select your KPI and Improve your Business

Business owners working on the business, and not in it, define key performance indicators (KPI) for their business, setting a baseline and monitor against this baseline. Although the urge is big, selecting more than three KPIs at a time is not only too aggressive, it backfires most of the time

The Importance of Call Analytics

One of the most important points of interaction between the Service Advisor and the motorist is the initial conversation. It is designed to assure the first time customer that the shop is the best choice for solving their vehicle’s problem or performing a particular service.

SmartFlow with TeE-Time

The TeE-Times benefits will be huge for the shop owner, technician and the service advisor. Another time killer – running back and forth to the time punching machine – will be eliminated.

SmartFlow v1.9 App Update

In version 1.9. to prevent the accidental replacement of the Vehicle VIN, Make, Model and Year, the technician is prompted to confirm the update prior to making any changes.

SmartFlow: Automatic Merging of Inspection Results

Updates to inspection results now automatically merge. In the past every time an inspection report was submitted from the tablet a new revision was created. This resulted in multiple revisions of inspections for a single vehicle to appear in the View Inspection Results list, especially if multiple technicians had work assigned to the vehicle. We have implemented some simple rules that allow modifications to an inspection report to be merged, rather than create a new revision. The rules are as follows: The first inspection results submitted creates a reference Subsequent submissions are compared to the reference, topic by topic If there is a conflict (a nonempty condition / action / status / note on the reference is different from the submission) a new revision is created Otherwise the results are merged with the reference The end result is in most cases you will only see a single revision of an inspection report for a vehicle on the Todays Vehicles Page or View Inspection Results...

SmartFlow: Change to Vehicle Closeout in NAPA TRACS

SmartFlow now uses the “Invoice” status in NAPA TRACS to determine when a repair order has been closed out. In the past the “Completed” status was the condition used to indicate when a repair order was closed out in NAPA TRACS which removes the vehicle tile from the SmartFlow Todays Vehicles Page. A survey of SmartFlow NAPA TRACS users provided strong feedback that the “Invoice” status was more appropriate to trigger the close out of vehicles in...

TopFuel: Personalize the Thank-You Email

Get More Reviews and More Appointments! Motorists receive thank you emails from shops every day, and some leave a review, but more and more don’t. Why? They are inundated with emails containing generic call to actions.  The solution: shops review each other to collect more reviews. Hm… AutoVitals added a new Thank You Email to TopFuel and personalized it so that the shop experience is remembered well, the motorist is educated and more genuine reviews and appointments happen. Here is how it works. Once the motorist receives a shop authored Thank You email link the one below and clicks/taps the call to action,   The motorists with gmail address will see what their review will look like on Google, and how the visit at your shop has increased the vehicle health. In addition the recent visit is reviewed in terms of what services have been performed and which ones are recommend for the next visit. The recommendations are reinforced with the images taken of the problem area of the motorist’s vehicle as well as the areas in mint condition. Check below how the motorist experience looks like:   We are reaching out to selected clients to perform field tests and will update you as soon as we have statistical evidence will substantial increase of reviews and appointments. Stay...

SmartFlow: Advanced Retention Reports

Know how to Focus your Spending Based on The Right Numbers! Measure results, Analyze them, Adjust and Focus your Spending, Measure results, Analyze them, Adjust and Focus your Spending,…… You already know this effective way of using your money. With our latest SmartFlow release it has become much easier to drill down to the right numbers, no matter whether your coach is asking for them or you want to tailor your spending on AdWords, Postcards, newsletters, screening phone calls etc. If you have added our retention module to SmartFlow, you just go to your dashboard and click on “More Reports’ in the Report Center, then select the month you want to analyze and you will be able to download the report indicated in the image below. Our retention customers have already a Google Docs account, so no additional Excel license is needed.   Once uploaded to Excel or Google Spreadsheets, what information is available for more analysis? Check out the two images below giving you a quick overview: The first image give you the key metrics for your retention spending. And as a bonus we not only take your service advisor’s word (“by customer source”) for who is a new customer, we also compare that with our analysis of who showed up in your database as a first time customer (“automatically detected”). This feature allows you to assess the accuracy of the data processed. The remaining part of the report gives you a selection of business metrics (the image below shows Makes), which all are shown with the following attributes (compare the index of the bulleted list below with the number...

Customize Service Reminders

The new AutoVitals service reminder design allows to tailor the message to the motorist and lists the services on the appointment page for the motorist to explore and select.

Hide Technician Notes from Motorists in SmartFlow

There are many instances when it may be useful to add a note to a job that is intended only for the service advisor to see and not the customer. Using a special code “ZZZ” in the body of a note marks a section “For Service Advisor’s Eyes Only.” Use the steps below to try it out.

EIS Benefits and FAQ

  Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Roadmap for the AutoVitals Paperless Back Shop!   Roadmap Frequently Asked...
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