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Watch our very special Digital Shop Talk Radio panelist line-up!

Sunil Patel, President and CEO of Tekmetric, Craig Hammond, a multi-shop operator of Meineke, and AutoVitals founder and CIO, Uwe Kleinschmidt, discuss critical factors that successful shops pay attention to and the latest details of the AutoVitals and Tekmetric partnership.

Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated using Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you notice an error, please contact [email protected].

Bill: Good morning and good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor. And you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio. If you’ve joined us by registering in advance, thanks, and please be sure to chat your questions as we go along.
For those of you that are listening afterwards on your favorite podcast platform, or if you need to find us on your podcast platform, just search for the Digital Shop Talk Radio.
And so, today, I’m here with Sunil Patel, Tekmetrics president and CEO. Welcome. Craig Hammond from Meineke AutoCare Center, a multi-shop operations representative. Brian DuRoss from AutoVitals, which he’s a project manager that’s actually working on the integration side of things. And of course, we’ve got AutoVital’s very own Chief Innovation Officer Uwe Kleinschmidt.
Today, we’re going to discuss the combined power of AutoVitals and Tekmetrics in the digital shop, and we all know as consumer and other driving forces in the industry continue to change, it’s more important than ever that the digital shop is the answer to the problem.
We’re going to discuss what the differentiating elements of Tekmetric are, what are critical success factors of a successful shop, and we’ll be talking about some solid ideas that you can put in place to build a team culture and secure a strong future for your shop’s entire staff.
So, today’s focus is going to be using Tekmetrics and AutoVitals combined for higher shop productivity. So, gentlemen, are we ready to get on with the program here?
I see a lot of heads nodding yes, so let’s dig in.
Uwe, what I’m going to is I’d like to start out today by talking about the integration between the two companies because it’s taken a while to get that put in place, and let’s get some feedback from both Brian and Senil related what they’re thinking about the results so far. That sound like a good path for you?
Uwe: Sure. I’m especially pleased, if I may start.
The quality of integration is less about what software API calls we find and how to do the technical integration, although that’s very important. But we have learned over the years with many integrations that the one success factor sticking out and is the most dominant is how well the companies work together.
It was from where I’m sitting an amazing collaboration. We had a lot of back and forth about ideas and changes and Sunil’s team was extremely responsive and open and gave feedback. So, I’m highly confident this is one of the best integrations we have ever done.
Brian, I mean you were in the thick of it.
Brian: Yeah. I’d love to add to that. For those of you I haven’t met before, I’m Brian. I’ve been here at AutoVitals for eight years now, and I’ve been closely involved with our integrations for most of that time. So, knowing the ins and outs of all of our integrations, the first thing I want to say is that I’m extremely excited about this partnership with Tekmetric.
As Uwe alluded to, I have no doubt in my mind as well that it will be the best integration we have yet. We do work with a lot of systems, some friendly, some not so friendly, or are willing to work together, but this is much more of a partnership where we’ve actually collaborated together on how to best get the two systems talking to each other and ultimately provide value for our customers.
So, a little background for you on how things started. From the early stages of getting the integration going, we took a very detailed approach and using all the experience we have of working with so many point of sales, we’ve gone through every little thing that we’ve come across over the years. Everything is shop [inaudible], and matching up those scenarios with how Tekmetric works and make sure that we create something that was rock solid.
We were able to ask Tekmetric questions during that phase and working with both their development and support teams, got clarification and identified things that could potentially be problems before they occur.
One of things that we know is absolutely critical for shops is avoiding duplicate entry. One of the benefits of replacing paper is to not have to write something down and then have to go put it in the computer. Similarly, if your technician collects information with AutoVitals, such as the VIN, license plate or odometer, you don’t want to have to copy and paste that into Tekmetric or anything like that. So, we’ve got you covered there.
And it actually goes much further than that. There’s quite a bit of information that can go back and forth between the two. At the start of us working together, Tekmetric didn’t already allow others to really update these things in their system yet. But working together, all of these things have been added. So, that’s exciting.
Let me share a little bit of a visual. So, if your technician takes notes or images on jobs being performed, those can transfer right into those jobs in Tekmetric as well. Especially for you shops doing any types of diagnostics or big jobs, it’s really important for your tech stories to get in there on the invoice and we can do that without any copying or pasting needed.
Technician assignments using the AutoVitals tech view, your service advisors or dispatcher can see everything your techs are currently working on, how many billed hours, they already have the signs, who might be available currently, and make any kinds of adjustments to the order of things being worked on at a moment’s notice.
So, if you do use AutoVitals to do the dispatching, that technician’s assignment can also get pushed back into Tekmetric, so you have all of the information in both places.
A lot of service advisor’s time goes into building estimates as well, so one of the biggest time savers is getting recommended jobs from the tech’s inspection onto the estimate in Tekmetric. All the tech has to do is fill out their inspection, and the service advisor quickly reviews it before it’s ready to send to the customer for approval.
And as a bonus, the technician’s findings from the inspection, like the condition and images of that particular topic can be included right there in the notes of that job as well. So, not only adding the job into the estimate but any notes or context, so it’s really all there right together.
Tekmetric itself is very easy and efficient to use and thankfully more modern and willing to adapt than a lot of what we’re used to in this industry, which is a bit refreshing to say. And that combined with the two systems talking well to each other, overall efficiency gains, and AutoVitals’ focus on increasing shops’ ARO, is definitely a powerful integration to create value for shops.
So, we’re very excited about we have so far, and [I’m] looking toward the future and what we can do together.
Sunil: I’ll add to Brian’s comments. Our team had a phenomenal time working with Brian and his team as far as getting the requirements down accurately to make sure that this integration goes smoothly. Our development team spoke very highly of Brian and his team. I feel like we have a good concrete integration done now with AutoVitals, where we had a lot of guys that possibly could have left AutoVitals to come to Tekmetric, but now they’re wanting to come back to AutoVitals now that it’s integrating with Tekmetric.
So, that’s great to hear, and as always, we want to always have an open platform. We want our users to pick and choose what third party integrations they want to work with because we don’t want to limit them to something we build or a certain way we do things, so it’s very refreshing to work with companies like AutoVitals.
Brian: Thanks Nil.
Uwe: Cool. Can I ask the question, Brian, what was the most challenging [aspect] you had to overcome because the philosophies were not aligned, and how did you solve it? Do you have a little episode?
Brian: I suppose I’d say just the time invested in testing everything and making sure everything they offer over the API, which is how we integrate, meets the needs for our customers. So, not only does the repair order need to show up and the jobs and parts on there, but if you go in and edit the description of the job, the quantity, anything like that, all those little things need to update. There’s so much that the technicians and the advisors rely on to get things. And things change. The customer calls in. The wrong part was put on there and such.
That was a lot of the time, and it was very nice to put all that time in up front before anyone had to face the problem. So, getting in front of that was challenging but also very rewarding long-term as well.
Uwe: Thank you.
I think we should bring in Craig at this point. Craig made the jump, the leap, the leap of faith, and hopefully the leap of productivity soon by bringing on –. How many locations do you have on it now, one or two, Craig?
Craig: We’ve got one on right now. We just launched the first location. I’m sure the rest of them will be launching soon.
Uwe: So, how was that experience? If you could talk about a little bit the previous point of sale, the new point of sale, change in the shop. How do you get your guys onto it without missing a beat because it’s no secret high car count, lots of movement in the shop.
So, if you could talk about this a little bit.
Craig: Yeah. So, I think our first consumer review at Meineke was going to be moving to an updated BOS was, how was it going to work with AutoVitals? [Inaudible] AutoVitals users. They’re believers in the system and they’ve seen great results using AutoVitals and using it the right way to get ARO up.
We knew we were going to a new BOS. AutoVitals integrating into BOS was our main concern.
As far as how it has been received at a shop level, it’s been good. Service advisors are happy. Part of the feedback that we’ve got is it’s been a lot easier for them to build tickets. They can build tickets quicker on day one in Tekmetrics than they have being able to build tickets in EndKey after using EndKey for two years.
So, I would say the ability to find information, find parts, bring tickets over from AutoVitals from importing canned jobs is much better and much quicker.
As far as the integration process and switching over, I would say that the biggest thing we had to make sure worked was the inspection sheets. We run our own individual inspection sheets, so making sure that our canned jobs were in the inspection sheets, they could be imported over into Tekmetrics, was the biggest hurdle we had to go through, but I believe most Meineke stores are going to be set up with Meineke’s canned jobs and Meineke’s [inaudible].
That was the most work I’ve yet to put in, was making sure that the canned jobs represented what we wanted and that those were on the inspection sheet itself.
So, once we had those set up, the speed at which we can get jobs off of an inspection sheet from a technician into Tekmetrics is immediate. A technician submits an inspection, we edit the inspection, send it to the customer. There’s a button to hit that there says update work order, and by the time you tab over into Tekmetrics, the canned jobs will already update.
So, it’s been a good change. I think it’s also been helpful to make sure that we’re not sitting there waiting on SmartFlow anymore to decide whether it’s going to import all those jobs and watch it load up, and the communication obviously back to AutoVitals has been great too.
Once we assign the job to a technician, it’s on the tablet. It’s on the TVP immediately. So, no more waiting, hitting refresh hoping that the vehicle is going to show up. It’s immediate and we’re happy so far.
Uwe: Wow. That’s a big deal if you multiply that with all the changes which happen on a daily basis over all the cars.
Craig: Yeah.
Uwe: I don’t know. Maybe I’m pushing you too hard, but what would you think is the possible gain in terms of technician minutes or service advisor minutes by the new integration compared with the old one? We know that every second is money, billable hours to be produced. Do you have already – even [though] it’s a short period of time – kind of an estimate? How much time do you gain per day per technician or whatever you can say?
Craig: Yeah. We discussed it a little bit yesterday between my service advisor and I, and the feedback that I got initially was at a minimum three to five hours freed up. I think that’s probably a conservative estimate, I would say, by the time you’re done checking the customer in – because [inaudible] AutoVitals integration – but checking the customer in, assigning that vehicle, importing the canned jobs into Tekmetrics and getting that over to the customer, you’re talking five to ten minutes. Multiply that by sixty cars, you’ve got five to ten hours at least a week of time that’s no longer waiting on technology to do its thing.
So, I would say that’s a conservative estimate right now, but I think once you get used to it, it should be more than that.
Uwe: Wow. That’s amazing. I mean, we can just stop the podcast right here.
Bill: It’s interesting to hear waiting on technology to do their thing, coming from not very long ago, everybody was using paper and pencil, and they had a whole lot different expectations.
Craig: Yeah. They’re very impatient.
Uwe: That’s awesome. With respect to Senil and Brian, thanks for the quick integration. If two tools are so seamless, maybe they look at it as one tool at the end. It’s just another browser.
Senil: That’s true.
Craig: It is just like another browser. It is very nice. Being able to move between computers and things like that, I’m in my office. There’s no more sitting around and waiting on the EndKey server or we’re having issues related to one particular machine. You can move around in the shop. That’s been helpful. Web-based system is much better.
Bill: Being that I’m not a computer geek, does this speed come from the partnership working together and to communicate directly through API rather than other means? Maybe you could talk about how that actually takes place because the speed is really important to shop owners. What actually drives that in the back end, if that’s OK?
Brian: Yeah. Primarily it’s being web-based and connecting through the web rather than these old school servers and data bases that – some of these are 20 years old at least, 10 years minimum. Some of the guys using the 20 year technology recently updated to the 10 year old technology.
Just a modern technology approach and it’s definitely faster than a lot that we’re working with, and we’re hoping also to make that even faster. There’s a few little optimizations here and there that can be done. So, even the speed we have, we already have some things in the works being tested to take off even half that time.
Bill: That’s a good point, though, because basically technology’s never going to stop evolving and working together in a partnership like this. That’s an ongoing thing to make sure that all the clients have what they need in a timely manner rather than having to wait 10 years for somebody to come up with something different.
Brian: Yeah. I don’t know how many shops have had a server failure or crash. You’re lucky if you haven’t, but I’ve seen it many times. They don’t have their backups running, or their backups are just going to the same computer, or they forgot to do the flash drive deal. I’ve seen shops lose months of data in ROs and then have to manually input them or they’re really just gone.
It’s a problem. That’s just never going to happen with Tekmetric.
Uwe: If I may, the internet is more important than your server. Is it possible to just say what is a minimum or standard configuration in terms of speed, bandwidth, ping, [or] whatever characteristic you can say? Brian or Sunil?
Sunil: I can talk about Tekmetric. Brian, why don’t you go first, and I’ll talk about TeKmetrics requirements.
Brian: With the old school integrations we had, it really did need some upload speed to get the data to us. That’s no longer needed. So, really it’s just being able to load the page. We have our [inaudible] vehicles page accessed on the browser. We recommend five megabits per second download speed for that. I’m curious what Techmetrics requirements are.
Sunil: Brian, just on writing repair orders and using the system, our minimum requirement is 1.5 megs a second download speeds. And we’ve tested it in a lot of rural areas of the US where internet is very spotty or you have to use a hot spot to log on, and it works perfectly fine. But when you start getting into pictures and videos and stuff like that with the DVI, five is pretty much our standard.
Brian: Yep. That makes sense. Right in line, there’s so many photos being taken and all that.
Uwe: And for everybody who’s not in a rural area, five is a piece of cake. But even satellite, five is –. I happen to live now in a rural area and I have 25. I’m not planning to open a shop, but it would work perfectly.
So, it’s all about backup in case your internet service provider has a glitch, and then there are many modems out there based on cellular towers, which would also –. I’m actually talking to you right now through an AT&T cell tower, so you can see it’s possible. So, the recommendation is really buy yourself the backup internet solution which is a completely different physical medium like satellite in case your ISP has a glitch.
Brian: Access to decent internet was a big obstacle for a lot of shops. At least it has been in the past and still is for some. Shifting this direction may even be more accessible even with not too great of a connection.
Bill: So, for shop owners both single user and multi-user, what are some of the advantages that come from both AutoVitals and Tekmetric being truly cloud-based?
Sunil: I can talk about that, Brian, and I’m sure you can add to it too. So, what we’ve seen in the past is whenever you have an on prem system, that’s just called one of the older Legacy players, attached to a cloud-based product like AutoVitals, that sync is always in question, like, did the data get sent from AutoVitals to the on prem system and vice versa, whereas if both players are in the cloud like Tekmetric and AutoVitals, you kind of remove a little bit of ambiguity as far as the data transfer and so forth.
So, I find that it’s A) a lot faster to interact with both systems and to transmit data back and forth between both systems and then B) the assurance that the data has been transmitted is much greater.
Brian: Yeah. Absolutely.
We’re both businesses using enterprise level stuff, so there’s much less failure, if any. And there are actually even some point of sales that are cloud-based and using an API, but for some reason, they still send data from the shop’s computer. And there are problems that do arise from that, because just a computer in the shop can have problems sometimes.
Uwe: Frank just made a good comment. He had ransomware which attacks your on prem database and small business owners should not be exposed to this kind of headache. That’s a nightmare, [an] unexpected nightmare, and really hard to overcome. That’s a huge benefit.
Bill: I’m also thinking from a shop owner’s standpoint or a multi-shop owner, can I have employees work remotely without missing a beat? Can I have an off-site estimator or somebody that handles our CRM calls off site?
So, having everything in a cloud really opens up a ton of other opportunities, and I know, Craig, you’ve got a lot of shops that you tend to. As you get more shops on, do you look forward to being able to tend to all your shops from your chair in your living room if you have to versus traveling?
Craig: I’ll be able to work all the time. That’s the good part, right?
Bill: In sickness and health.
Craig: We’ve already used a CRM with a remote person who was making callbacks and scheduling appointments. And it worked well. He could log in to each individual shop and get all the information he needed, and that worked well for us. So, we’ve already used that.
With Tekmetrics so far, it’s been good. We can get onto it with tablets. I can get onto it with my phone. I am looking forward to being able to get into each shop once they move over to it. Because my understanding is that it will be kind of a [inaudible] user. You can kind of pick the shops you want to log into. It is a huge help. So, we’re already using that to get into the stores.
Right now, we’ve got a lot of stores set up with like a B&C type system, so we put a login to the computer and then log into that particular shop to get information from EndKey. This does away with it. Tekmetrics will put that to bed. It will be good.
Bill: Awesome. So, I guess what I would like to do is maybe get Senil to talk a little about Tekmetrics has kind of come out of the left field as far as far as point of sales and now they are in that leading spot, and it happened in a short period of time. So, can you talk about some of the things that make you a better value proposition for a point of sale besides integrating with AutoVitals?
Senil: I think one of the biggest things that I can say as far as what makes us successful is the team behind Tekmetric. It’s all the people that we have in our leadership that allow us to grow very rapidly. So, we have, for a lack of a better phrase, come out of left field, and we have most of the larger multi-shop operations either in process of using Tekmetric or already using Tekmetric.
One of the biggest things that’s made us successful outside of our internal team is listening to our shop owners. We always listen to our shop owners and their needs and wants, and then we prioritize our development based on that feedback received. We never want to be a company that tells our users this is the way it has to be done and there’s no other way around it. We want to try and listen to them and get feedback.
And then for developing a feature, we want to try and build that feature so that it accommodates the bulk majority of our users out there. And so, in the beginning I had a mindset of let’s just build Tekmetric and everybody has to use our DVI. But I quickly learned that was not a good decision to make, and we switched courses several years ago, and we created the API. We ultimately want to be the platform that you can use to connect to whoever you want to connect to.
And I feel that some of those things are what’s made us successful.
And internally, as far as our company goes, it’s the constant refinement and scaling of our processes that’s helped us grow to where we are right now. We’re north of 50 employees now in a very, very short amount of time and we’re probably looking to add several more bodies before the end of this year.
Bill: One of the main bottlenecks in the shop is the amount of time that it actually takes to create an estimate. So, AutoVitals can get those jobs in there, so maybe you can talk about what you’ve done to help speed up the estimation process, basically a problem that many have to find a solution for, get that speed of the estimate up.
Uwe: And before you answer, Senil, I want to add: We all know what the elephant in the room is. If the point of sale is not allowing it to do that in the particular period of time, service advisors leave money on the table by not estimating it. It’s not that it takes longer, actually the real damage is [that] not everything gets estimated.
Senil: That’s correct.
Uwe: And that’s why it’s such a huge deal to get the estimating process as efficient as humanly possible.
Senil: Yeah. So, to add to what Uwe just said right now, some of the older Legacy players that are on prem systems that are either making their own DVI or using a third party DVI, again, we have to deal with that connectivity issue with transmitting data back and forth and syncing that data back and forth.
And even though some of these guys have built their own DVIs or [their] own inspection tools, you’re still using somewhat of a cloud product and trying to connect it to an on prem system and transmitting data back and forth. So, it’s a loss of efficiency in my opinion.
The cloud is the wave of the future. Everything is moving to the cloud. Microsoft, Apple, everything, all of their products are now in the cloud, including basic things like Excel or even QuickBooks, for instance.
So, the cloud is the wave of the future, and we feel like the efficiency is brought on by marrying these two products – AutoVitals and Tekmetric – that are already native in the cloud. [It] speeds up the efficiency of building the repair order, and accurately making sure that all those jobs are estimated correctly.
Now, in Tekmetric, we have taken steps over the last few years to ensure that we can get people to build their estimates a lot quicker than we were currently doing when we first came out with the product. So, having our own labor guide native inside of Tekmetric on our own servers helped tremendously in building those jobs. We are going to continue refining that process.
My ultimate goal internally is a two-click job. You type in what you want to look for and it automatically accurately adds the correct parts and labors to that job.
Bill: Right now, have you done anything to help speed up with integration for other partner suppliers, to bring that data right back into Tekmetrics? That’s one of the things that people seem to struggle with also, direct integration with the parts supplier where they can pull it into their estimate.
Senil: We do work with pretty much all of the parts players right now within Tekmetric. As far as allowing the data to flow back and forth, when we first came out with our first version of the API, it was a one-way sync, so you would be able to extract data from Tekmetric into some third party system.
But when working with partners like AutoVitals, we have to refine that API, so we needed them to be able to push data back into Tekmetric. And so, we have continuously added more and more end points to our API to accommodate those requests.
In addition to that, we also have something known as web hooks, which is essentially [the] event-driven transmission of data, or let’s just called it a payload of data. So, we could also do that within Tekmetrics. So, for instance, when a repair order is started, it can push some data out to a third party player.
So, those are things that we’re going to look into, tightening up that integration with AutoVitals over time.
Bill: So, no duplication of the data and no crossing your As and your Is and your VIN numbers. So, it really helps a bunch. It’s pretty cool.
Brian: Senil, I wanted to go back to one of the things you said, [about] how Tekmetric really listens to your customers and tries to physically fit for everyone, satisfy their needs. So, flip side of that from a software design perspective is avoiding to make something that is so overly complicated to get something started. You need a configuration expert and non-included training up front.
So, what’s your approach to satisfying the needs of as many customers as possible but avoiding becoming too heavy of a program to use?
Senil: Yeah. So, that’s one of the things that whenever we develop a feature, it’s always on the forefront of developing that feature. And that is the simplicity of using that feature and the intuitiveness of using that feature.
Brandon Rukin, our UX/UI designer, leads all of those efforts, and he’s done a phenomenal job on designing and making the interface as seamless as possible.
We try to capture 75% of the marketshare as far as a feature request goes. We’re going to have a small percentage, 20 to 25% of the people that want that feature to behave a certain way or do a certain thing, and that’s where we have to get on the phone with that user, and they may dig [in] their heels and try to convince us that’s the way it should be done.
In fact, I just had a call a couple of weeks ago with a shop owner. He wanted a feature to be developed in Tekmetric a certain way, but then when we take a poll amongst our users, nobody else really wants it that way. And it’s just because he’s been doing it that way for so long, that that’s the way he wanted that feature to work.
And so, I had a great conversation with him and made him understand that this is where we stand as far as that feature development. I hate to lose him as a customer obviously, but I think having that conversation up front is a big deal and a difference that our company makes.
Brian: Right. Yeah. Once you add a new feature, it’s too late. You can’t take it away.
Senil: Yep.
Uwe: I run my shop differently. Isn’t that what you hear every single day?
Senil: All the time. I’m a high volume shop. I’m a $3 million shop, $4 million shop. I do things a certain different way to get to where I’m at.
I have shops that are north of $5 million a year, so our process has worked and it’s proven.
Uwe: Thank you.

So, can we take a peek at the future a little bit? Or, Craig, do you want to talk a little bit about next steps for you to establish it, and what’s coming for you in completing the setup of this one location and then going over to the other locations, like [a] library of canned jobs so they can be pushed down to all locations with one keystroke or something like that.
Craig: Yeah. I think that cleaning up canned jobs is going to be one of our bigger jobs. We have done the majority of it so far, but before I came into this meeting, I had a technician show me a long sheet of paper with a list of things that he said, look, these things are ones that we need to add now and clean up.
But the hope is by adding those canned jobs and using canned jobs that we’re using on a regular basis that we are going to make the shop move quicker. So, the hope is to affect what we’ve got here before we push out to any other stores so that it’s seamless.
And as far as getting people trained, we have to bring some of the managers from the other shops and spend a couple of days here and see how it operates before we go and launch in the other shops. I would say for the most part it’s – and you guys used that word already – an intuitive system. It’s easy to navigate. It’s easy to find what you want. If you’ve been battling through something like MQ for many years, this will be a welcome change. I think it’s going to be good for the guys, and even when it comes to going and shopping for parts, it’s more of a shopping experience that people are used to.
So, part of that comes down to it’s less work now for us to train the employees, for us to bring somebody in and say, here’s MQ. Here’s [inaudible] was always our biggest hurdle, the biggest pain point in getting into learning how to operate our shop.
So, moving with Tekmetrics is going to reduce some of that work load, because I think that it’s user friendly. It’s where our employees and our customers really live. As far as how the interface operates, it’s a fairly familiar feel. So, yeah. I think that it will be good. I’m not concerned about moving it to other shops once we get the canned packages and then this and reporting stuff that we want to clean up on our end too.
Bill: So, in a multi-shop environment, you would say, get your categories correct, get your canned jobs correct, get your first shop set up and then have Tekmetric clone it into you other ones. Is that correct?
Craig: Yeah. That would be the plan. That’s what we’re working on. Tomorrow we will be cleaning up all the categories because that’s given us a bit of a hiccup in checking out. But once we get that cleaned up, having everything in the right category is going to make checkout a lot quicker. It’s just one of those things that we can clean up on the back end.
Uwe: Very cool. So, Nil, what’s next on the agenda for Tekmetric?
Senil: I can go on and on about what’s next. We’re going to continue refining the product, listening to our users. Just in the short term, there are some additional features or functionality that existing users have asked for, and we want to make sure that they’re heard. We want cover those features as well. But then, we also have to think about being innovative adding new features that wow people.
So, it’s a fine balance that we have to make. We have a lot of multi-shop features coming out and then fleet management and so forth, so we’re accommodating as many requests as we can and continuing to grow the team to continue to grow the product as fast as possible.
Bill: In other words, you’ll never run out of feature requests, but the innovation has got to come from understanding where the market’s going. Right?
Senil: I probably have four years of development ahead of me, so yeah.
Bill: Cool. So, what are some of the critical success factors in a shop that we actually solve by using AutoVitals and Tekmetrics together? Obviously we know that every shop should be doing a vehicle health inspection. We all owe the customer a safe, reliable and comfortable vehicle, so the inspections there and getting that data in there. But what are some of the critical success factors that the power of these tools combined actually helps the shop with?
Craig: I would say for us, Bill, it’s the time. It’s just cutting down on the amount of time it takes to move through getting that customer checked in, getting the vehicle assigned to a technician, the inspection process still remains the same, and giving that inspection back and a ticket built for your customer to get in their hands.
It’s something that we’ve been focusing on a lot more recently, is trying to get from the time that customer checks in, to get them some information back to them quickly from the inspection report, because we know that time is a huge factor in a customer’s decision of whether or not they’re going to buy from us.
So, moving quickly with AutoVitals and the integration and how they go back and forth with each other and being able to see even when we look through the activity reports from when the customer checked in to when it’s assigned to the technician, to when the estimate’s built, all that information’s available. It’s allowing us to see more of the shop operation, especially when we’re not necessarily on the site all the time. It’s a lot more transparency now. And that’s going to be helpful –.
Bill: So, in a high volume shop like yours, you’re using the time savings to drive more customers’ throughput, whereas a low volume shop might use that time to create a better customer experience, a more touch-based transaction with the customer.
Craig: Yeah.
Bill: Interesting. [What are] some of the other things that it brings to the table? Brian, some things that you’ve seen or heard, or Senil, either way?
Senil: I’ve heard just switching to a cloud-based player like Tekmetric, the efficiencies that come with building estimates quickly has gone through the roof as far as a lot of the Meineke stores are concerned, just from their old system. And then training new employees on our platform is much simpler than some of the other players out there too.
So, it makes that employee productive a lot quicker, which is more dollars in the shop owner’s pocket.

Bill: And so, is your training built right into your platform, so they don’t have to go looking for it?
Senil: Yeah. So, we’ve got several areas of training. We’ve got live support. We’ve got in-app chat, which allows the shop owner or service writer to chat with one of our support folks in San Angelo, Texas. And then, in addition to that, we also have a knowledge base which is full of articles and GIF images and what not.
And then we do have a third-party system that we use for training all of the employees that are on the platform.
And then lastly, we also do offer in-person training for an additional fee, where we can actually fly somebody out to your store to do training.
Brian: Yeah. If you need it. I didn’t really need it. Poking around, I was able to figure out most things. Another system I’ve used several times, I still can’t figure out how to close out the RO. It’s just not intuitive.
Yeah. The biggest things are clearly efficiency gains, and the other main goal is ARO increase, and that’s things that were already available with the AutoVitals inspection and the presentation to the customer, increasing those approvals. But the difference that we get with Tekmetric is just speed all around.
Bill: So, one of the things we notice in AutoVitals, the integration with the point of sale, the canned jobs seems to be one of the more important pieces of it, besides speed, transferring data. But to have the inspection sheet configured where every condition on there drives a recommended job that goes with it.
And to push a button to have that all show up on a repair order, where the service writer really has to work hard to remove it from there rather than estimate it. So, that one-to-one relationship between what the technician spotted and recommended – you know, they spotted a need, they recommended it – and what actually makes it to the repair order for the service writer to finish, it really helps the dollar amount that actually is getting estimated be a lot higher than any other method that I’ve seen out there in the marketplace.
You know, the hope and prayer method where they used to write it on paper and it never did work. And then, we went to the paper inspection sheets where they did the red, yellow and green X on it. But driving those jobs right back into the repair order for estimation, that’s really been a game changer for shops.
Brian: Yeah. And of the things that we can do is come pre-loaded with some canned jobs. We’re already doing that with Meineke. We have our set of canned job library and Tekmetric can get a shop started with that if they’d like. And then we have that inspection sheet, that guided inspection, already configured with that as well.
As Craig’s already mentioned several times, it took him a lot of time to set up canned jobs. It’s still an ongoing process, because he wants the jobs exactly as they need in the shop.
But we do have a library ready to go, and I think that’s somewhere that we can also improve continuously – getting feedback and making sure that it’s as complete as we can make it.
Bill: The great thing is [that] the way AutoVitals, Tekmetrics and other point of sales are that support canned jobs are as the industry changes, you can never tell what the OEM is going to come up with tomorrow that we have to service.
But to be able to have the flexibility to add it to the point of sale, import it into AutoVitals, add it to your inspection sheet, it’s really huge and it makes it very consistent. So, especially in a guided inspection sheet, the technician selects the condition, it automatically puts the job on there, there’s no guesswork about it, and it just gets imported.
That takes so much risk out of there as far as one technician recommending one thing based on a condition and another one doing something different. So, great consistency, and really in a multi-shop operation, that can be huge no matter what one of your locations somebody goes in, they’re going to get the exact same story, so to say, based on the actual condition of the vehicle.
Brian: Yeah. Absolutely. Consistency is key.
Bill: Right next to transparency, right?
So, Uwe, what are some other critical success factors that you see between AutoVitals and Tekmetrics that a shop can actually leverage? They can do it with other point of sale systems and so on.
What are some of the key things that a shop should be expecting out of the full digital shop experience for solving problems in the shop? Maybe they even don’t know that it’s a problem, but there’s all kinds of opportunities for improvement in pretty near any shop we come across.
Uwe: I think that the number one is clearly the estimating process and then use the results of the estimating, of course the approval, to go to the techs and the declines to be used for further education in service reminders and other reminders. That seems to be the next frontier, that calls coming in –. Let me put it this way: Out of sight, out of mind should not be the standard thinking of a customer leaving the shop. It’s all about what’s the lifetime health of my vehicle.
And if you can shorten the estimate time, the service advisor can spend more time on pointing out things that are not mandatory for today but are needed for next time and prepare the next visit in a much more educational form than by the way you get a service reminder with a generic list of recommendations most people ignore.
So, I feel that service advisors have now again time to build an estimate, and it’s less an estimate for the current visit. It’s more the health status of the vehicle and the recommendation [of] what to do about it. Some stuff today, the red ones, and the yellow ones next time. So, I feel the whole customer-shop relationship can change if there is a full picture of the vehicle health of the car.
Bill: So, really this particular platform, AutoVitals and Tekmetric working together, it still supports wholeheartedly our best practice, which is do the inspection, the service writer looks it over, edits the inspection, builds the estimate, sends the results to the customer, lets the customer call the shop on their time, have a discussion, and then at that time, money can be discussed and the approval request can be sent to the customer.
I know a lot of times shops will say, well, we can shortcut this. We’ll just send the request for the estimate and let them pick through it. But still, the best practice remains the same as it’s been, get the results to the customer, let them look it over, ask the questions, find out what they want, and then send the request for approval.
Uwe: I don’t know, Sunil, we haven’t talked about that. Is there specific consideration for exit scheduling in Tekmetric?
Sunil: So, [when you say] exit scheduling, Uwe, you’re referring to when the customer’s ready to leave the shop, to [book] a follow-up appointment?
Uwe: Yeah.
Sunil: So, we do allow you to add an appointment inside of an active repair order on our summary screen. But I think we can do a little better job on prompting the service writer, would you like to create a follow-up appointment? So, that’s something we can work on.
Uwe: OK.
Brian: And they do have declined jobs, so Uwe was referring to following up, hopefully the customer approves everything for this visit, but of course they won’t. And Tekmetric does have those declined jobs. Those are kept for the next visit right there in one place. And that’s also what AutoVitals considers as recommendations for the next visit.
So, if you do have our CRM program, we can automatically send service reminders for that unsold work, and that can include the inspection findings from that recommendation. So, really going full circle and not just leaving those declined jobs out to dry.
Bill: So, you mean because the declined jobs are saved, the service writer doesn’t have to worry about the time they spend estimating today because it’s going to be there waiting for them the next time the customer comes in. So, that can be huge for a service writer, especially for consistency, they might have to update parts pricing or availability because we are so short on parts, but that’s huge when it comes to both consistency and time savings.
Brian: Yeah. It’s right there in Tekmetric. In fact, the one I was showing actually has it right there. This is the estimate screen where you add jobs and set them up to be approved or declined, and here’s the pending declined jobs from a previous visit. So, you can just easily add that back in.
Bill: No additional work. No duplication. That’s cool.
Brian: Yeah. It’s right here. You don’t have to go to another tab. You don’t have to go looking for it. It’s got red number on it. You can’t really miss it.
Sunil: To add to Brian’s comments, you notice there’s an add note feature on that previously declined job. The reason why we have an add note feature is you may have contact with the customer and the customer doesn’t want to do this job. Maybe he got it done somewhere else. So, you can actually save the note so everybody is aware of what happened, and then you can move it to trash.
When you move it to trash, it actually flags it, so all of our third party care partners like AutoVitals are aware that this is a job that we’re no longer marketing to.
Brian: Move to trash or move to the estimate approved. We’ll pick that up that it’s no longer an active recommendation.
Uwe: Very cool.
Bill: Uwe, we’re getting toward the top of the hour. You want to start giving us a summary and then let’s hear feedback from these other three gentlemen here.
Uwe: I heard four to five hours time savings for the service advisor.
Bill: That was it for you.
Sunil: Yeah. That’s all I heard.
Uwe: Don’t say anything else. It’s going to water down the importance of it. Kidding aside, if that’s a consistent result, we have made life at the shop a lot easier and more productive together.
Sunil: Yeah. I agree. I echo what Uwe just said, just improving efficiency in the shop with these two products goes a long way in trying to get as many cars out the door as fast as possible.
Craig: I think we’re still looking at time savings. We’re happy with how quickly it communicates and then obviously training staff is going to be a huge hurdle that we no longer have to jump over with a system that’s easier for people to get used to.
Bill: As you get all your stores on the same platform, what are some of the things that you’re expecting? What advantages are you getting by doing that? Just being able to see all the locations from one place? What other things besides that? We know speed, but there’s probably more in there hidden somewhere that you haven’t experienced yet.
Craig: Yeah. I’m sure there’s a lot more that we’ll still find out. I think one of the easy ones is even when you walk into the store knowing who’s a waiter, how long a waiter’s been there, who’s in your lobby, and that type of information.

When you look at those at your job board in Tekmetrics, that’s something that you can quickly, easily see what’s going on in the shop. So, I think that it’s giving us a little more insight on what’s happening in the shop. So, I think being able to page through each store and see what’s happening right now, where we are in the process, Tekmetrics is going to give us added transparency. We were getting some from the TVP, but it gives us more details that the MP didn’t give us.
Bill: Cool. Brian, you’ve got anything that you’d like to add to this?
Brian: Not much. I think we covered it all.
Bill: But wait. There’s more.
Very good. I’d like to thank all three of you for joining us here today. That’s very insightful information for everybody. Hopefully there’s some people out there that are looking especially for a cloud-based POA system, one that integrates very tightly with AutoVitals, hopefully they’ll take a look for sure.
I’d like to remind everybody to invite another shop owner in your area that might need some help in certain areas. Invite them to Digital Shop Talk Radio or if you’re driving home and you’ve got a long drive home, look for Digital Shop Talk Radio on your favorite podcast platform. There’s plenty of information in there. I think there’s 130 episodes in there now of shop owners sharing the problems they have in their shop and discussing solutions. They’re bound to help everybody else.
So, with that being said, Uwe, unless you have something else you’d like to add, I think we’re a couple minutes early, which is not our normal.
Brian: I do actually have one thing that I would add now.
Bill: I knew it.
Bill: It’s not just the speed of the two systems and the features talking to each other, but also any potential problems that may arise. Just actually communicating and driving towards the solution.
I think all of you shop owners and service managers and what not have used programs that don’t talk to each other, and you’ve had to be the middle man, go from one to the other. There’s finger pointing. You just want it to work and get it fixed and want help doing that.
Tekmetric and us do have a good relationship in that way in making sure that the customer isn’t getting stuck in the middle.
Craig: And Brian, I can attest to that. I know you guys [inaudible] be helpful. We’ve put some things out there to transition early, which I think changed up everything that we were doing. I think you guys at AutoVitals and Tekmetrics were available for us, helpful, worked every weekend Saturday and Sunday to get us up and running for Monday morning. So, you guys worked together. It was good.
Bill: Uwe, I know you’ve got something on your mind.
Uwe: No. I think that was a great closing statement by Brian, because the tools can be the best on the planet by themselves, and then the customer’s in the middle. And the blame game starts, the tools are not useful for anything. We’ve all been there. So, I think in this case, that will never happen.
Bill: Awesome. I’d like to thank everybody for listening to Digital Shop Talk Radio today and invite you to go out and make some money and wow your customers. That being said, we’ll wrap it for this week, and we’ll see you next week.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Brian: Thank you, everybody.
Sunil: Thank you, guys.
Craig: Thank you.

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