skip to Main Content

Single and even more multi-location owners benefit from integrations between best-in-class tools by speeding up their shop operations. In this podcast, we focus on Protractor and AutoVitals and have invited Dustin Brown, a multi-location shop owner, and Darren Williams, the Protractor Manager Customer and Technical Success. Join Darren, Dustin, Bill, and Uwe in discussing what results from the integration between Protractor and AutoVitals enabled.

Episode Transcript

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

Bill Connor (00:06):
Good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio where we gather on Wednesdays at 12 o’clock central to share some information from many of the shop owners that we’ve worked with over the years. Today I’m here with Dustin Brown, owner of Brown’s Automotive expert owned three locations, joined us live on air many times, sharing some great information, and we’ve got a Darren Williams, the manager of customer and technical success at AMS Protractor. So this is the first time he’s joined us and on this particular topic, he’ll be a valuable asset for sure, plus AutoVitals founder, Uwe Kleinschmidt here as usual to join us. Join us today as we discuss about why single and even more multis shop owners benefit from integration between the best in class tools, speeding up their shop operations. In this podcast, we’re going to focus specifically on Protractor and auto audibles. What are some of the best practices, their advantages, and maybe even some pitfalls that you might run into. As always, teamwork is required by everybody in the shop to provide great results. You’re going to take away some tips about learning from your peers, using integrations between best in class tools to grow your shop. As always, you learn from our guest panelists who operate shops just like yours. So as usual, if you wouldn’t mind, get us started on this journey and we’ll take off and go from there.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:33):
Thank you. Thank you, Dustin. Thank you Darren. I remember, I cannot remember when, but it has been a few years ago when Frank brought up that the opportunity cost of a technician minute was at that time $4 50. Now it’s probably more in the $6 range, and that was an epiphany for me, I have to tell you. And then we also discovered that silvers advisors often spend up to 60% of their time building estimates, and that seemed a lot of time. And so looking at those two numbers, we saw a huge opportunity if we can for every single work order shave off minutes, that’s going to pay back big at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month. So we started building processes and the tools in Smart Flow that went way beyond the normal digital inspection. And one of them is the technician is just tapping a recommended action on the tablet and through a button press for by the service advisor, the estimate out populates. That was one of the biggest achievements. And now that we even have shortened the delay in the integration between Protractor and Auto Vital, so it’s down to seconds and they almost act like one and the same tool, right? It’s like switching between two browser tabs almost. Right.
And so another thing we discovered, thanks to Bill mostly, I started working with Bill since what Bill 2014 or something like that. 13, maybe even 13 or 14. Yeah. He helped us appreciate the use of CAN Jobs. So we have built libraries around can jobs and even in the business control panel, which we’re going to talk about later as well, that you really use Can Jobs as a basis for your shop operation. And not only does it save time, it allows you to create KPIs and say, I want to increase my, I don’t know, cabin air filter, break flushes, whatever, and then you can track it back to the technician activity. So long story short, there is a lot of opportunity where you can save seconds or minutes, but it adds up at the end and we want to talk about those today. So Dustin, would you mind telling us a little bit about your three locations and how did you approach the integration between Protractor and AutoVitals? What came first and how did you work before and how are you working now? Lots of questions, sorry.
Dustin Brown (05:21):
That’s okay. Alright, well see some background here. We were with a program called WinWorks or Auto Shop by Way Works. Some people might know what that is. I
Uwe Kleinschmidt (05:33):
Dunno. Yes, I remember.
Dustin Brown (05:35):
And it was you were using the two screens, you copy and paste the tech notes over, you’d estimate everything manually, whatever the recommendations were. You were typing it up and you’re going all data and looking at the time, you’re going to NAPA ProLink and looking at the parts and you’re just doing everything manually. So boy, that took a lot of time. Of course I got introduced to a Protractor integration through I believe Bill actually. So we spent quite a bit of time talking with Protractor a few years back. They had an enterprise, which has been very helpful. So we set up can jobs in the enterprise that pushed down all three stores, little a Protractor plug. The beauty of that is if I needed to change a price on an oil change service, I only to change a price on my alignments, I could do it in one spot and it would change it for all three stores.
Historically, I had to go to each individual store and do that. I couldn’t could update pricing matrixes in the living room in my house now instead and it’ll affect all three. So we spent a lot of time with Bill at the time working on canned jobs and creating codes for each of these jobs. So we would’ve a BRA dash 0 0 1 and that would be brake pads, machine rotors, and we just did it for whatever jobs, all the typical standard stuff that you do on a day-to-day basis, shocks, struts, brakes, fluid flushes, maintenances. So we created a ton of can jobs on the enterprise. They all pushed down to all the locations and we utilized the codes into AutoVitals. So when they recommended brakes, they just had to click, okay, I need pads and rotors, so that’s this one. I need pads, rotors, and calipers. That’s this one. I need pads, machine rotors, it’s that one. And they would just click which one they needed for the vehicle and it lined it up with the ta, the job and pro truck Boy, it was one of those things where just like a lot of projects in your life, there’s a lot of work in the front end, but the time savings and the back end are just phenomenal. Phenomenal
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:04):
Was, it’s a little
Bill Connor (08:04):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:07):
To take this all on. I mean how long did it take you and Bill push you to finish it or how did it work?
Dustin Brown (08:18):
I think Bill and I were we meeting once a week or twice a week or something. Bill was pushing me to get it done
Bill Connor (08:27):
Here was kind of the secret to it though. As soon as Dustin realized what was in it for not only him but his entire staff to have something that he could build in one place and have it go ahead and spread down to the other ones without having to do extra work at each individual store, then it got to be a really high priority for Dustin to go ahead and say, let’s get this done. Now. At that point, he didn’t want to wait. He had that enthusiasm behind them that said, I can see the vision of where I want to go and this is what I have to do to do it. Let’s just get it knocked out.
Dustin Brown (09:05):
Yeah, absolutely. And that drove me to get a lot of it done quickly. I would just sit there and evenings and just blasted out and it’s not hard, it’s just tedious. It’s just, I dunno if t that way, it’s just a lot of the same thing over and over and over and over and over again with minor changes
Darren Williams (09:27):
And four years later how much stores,
Dustin Brown (09:31):
What Darren, I’m
Darren Williams (09:32):
Sorry, I’m sorry. Then four years later, how much time has that front-end work saved for all of your stores
Dustin Brown (09:39):
Bill Connor (09:40):
Here’s really what really helped out is by the learning curve we took with Dustin and some other people we were working with on ProTrac because we started doing the integration between Protractor and AutoVitals at that point when we made these discoveries, then what we said is, look, we’ve learned this here. How do we make this available to other people that are using ProTrac and AutoVitals switching over to ProTrac, how we can make their life easier. So we supplied these lists of jobs or what ProTrac call service package to them where they could make them standardized so other people don’t have to go through that particular pane.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:20):
So in other words, for the audience, we are now basically the default service package library. When you start with Protractor is already matched and referenced with the AutoVitals inspection sheets. So thanks to Dustin and Bill’s work, we could benefit from that and now everybody who starts with that integration has a step step forward.
Bill Connor (10:53):
We could take it one step further than that also. So we’ve developed some fully developed inspection sheets for ProTrac that somebody that’s been using ProTrac forever that now has joined into AutoVitals, they can go and get that code list and just put them into the service packages that apply to the inspection sheets and now they’re ready to go also. So we’ve learned a lot of different ways over the years to go ahead and streamline the process and really what we’re looking for to go ahead and make everybody in the shop really comfortable when an inspection’s done, a technician selects the right job or service packages based on the condition that that information is going to go ahead, that oppressive a button go back into auto or Protractor where the service writer can just estimate it. So we got that one-to-one relationship between what the tech recommends and what ends up getting estimated by the service advisor. So it makes everybody real comfortable in the process,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:50):
But I think we should really repeat Darren’s question. Dustin, if you have measured it or remember, do you have a number which illustrates the difference in the time savings?
Dustin Brown (12:06):
How much time did they save after doing that? I don’t remember. I think Bill and I put this, there has to have been at least three years ago. It’s tremendous though. I mean it is tremendous. We’re doing more cars, we’re able to manage more artwork. The workflow is more efficient, there’s less downtime on waiting on estimating. The guys can call one quicker, call our customers quicker. So the customer experience is improved by being able to provide them information faster. Technician’s lives are improved because we’re getting authorizations quicker. I can tell you an exact number, but I could tell you, I could talk all day about the benefits that we’ve seen.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (12:55):
I remember we had Adam Benji on who did exactly the same thing, and I cannot give you numbers on time improvements, but he was basically able to grow his shop in revenue by he quadrupled revenue, almost quadrupled revenue and didn’t even double the size of his staff because of all those efficiency gains. I mean it’s not just the ProTrac integration, but I mean just imagine that’s blowing my mind. If that’s possible, the opportunity to look in your shop operation and shape of time because as you said, less people crank out more.
Bill Connor (13:51):
And actually in this marketplace right now with the shortage of good quality staff, it’s even more important than it’s ever been to go ahead and turn everybody you have into high producers, highly paid professionals.
Dustin Brown (14:06):
Yeah, I was going to mention that Bill. I just read an article about how many more vehicles are coming into an independent side. It’s growing substantially. So the article really was all about increasing efficiencies in your operations. So any way you can do that, it’s going to be a way not just for yourself but for all your guys. Increasing efficiencies on the estimating process, the inspection process. Those are, that’s in my opinion, that’s a little bit of low hanging fruit that you really want to be going after and getting done,
Bill Connor (14:44):
But really we’re more toward the holy grail that we’ve always been for years is trying to get that three hours or higher average per repair order in an all make and all model shop and then four and a half or five or higher in a European shop. And it’s kind of interesting, Dustin, when I look at your numbers, you’re sitting all over that your three hours per repair order and it’s consistent across all three shops. It’s not just one there and the other one’s dragging around behind
Dustin Brown (15:13):
What we do. There’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle, right? The integration is one piece, but making sure they’re sitting these inspections and they’re taking the time to review ’em with the customers is another piece. So there, there’s a lot of pieces to that. AutoVitals definitely gets you where you want to be and they offer so much with their different avenues. You guys have your workflow management, you have the digital inspections, you have the educational videos that can be attached and now you have this integration with the point of sale. So if you’re really capturing all of that, you could really make big gains. You make gains if you just do a little bit, but imagine how much the gains you see when you really put the whole thing together.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (16:02):
Bill, do you mind maybe sharing your screen with some examples from the BCP so we can talk details?
Bill Connor (16:15):
I bet I can do that. Hopefully you can see the business control panel.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (16:20):
That looks great.
Bill Connor (16:22):
Awesome. So this is kind of what I was talking about. Now we’ve got Dustin’s three shop slate across here. Let’s see if we can get a pointer up here. So location one, two and three. And it’s kind of interesting because we can compare each shop to one another. So we’ve got build hours sold per day on average. They’re pretty uniform across all three shops. Here’s that holy grail number I was talking about the average hours per repair order. So they’re actually over to three in all three locations. So congratulations there for sure. We’ve got the inspection rate and what I’d actually like to go ahead and say, Proctor really does an excellent job with reporting and the ability to go ahead and build all kinds of different reports. But where the business control panel is going to be completely different is we actually have a way to go and actually capture behaviors and analyze ’em in a different way. So this is more about understanding the behaviors of the shop that actually lead to the numbers, gross profit and sales and stuff that are available through ProTrac, if that makes sense
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:28):
As we go dust new all makes our models right? Is that correct?
Dustin Brown (17:33):
Yeah. Yes sir. We’re a full service all
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:36):
Models. That’s amazing. 3.6 hours, 3.8 hours. I mean congratulations.
Dustin Brown (17:43):
Thank you.
Bill Connor (17:43):
But what actually leads to that is the behavior of having a consistent inspection process. So really all three shops, they average between 11 and 13 recommendations per repair order. That’s a sign of them all using the same inspection sheet in the same process over and over again. We get down a little bit further and their average pitches repair order, you can see they’re relatively consistent, although this shop is a little bit higher, but they’re still within that range. The edited pictures, you can see that one shop seems to do a little bit better job of editing pictures than the other ones, but they’re still relatively uniform. So this is kind of what I talk about, being able to measure consistency from shop to shop. You can see the inspection sent rate average motorist research time, which is kind of interesting here. The shop that actually edits more pictures actually has a higher motorist engagement.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:38):
What a surprise.
Bill Connor (18:41):
We’ve had this discussion before, but it’s really interesting that when Dustin’s got his whole staff using things the same way that he can come in here and compare across all three locations and even go ahead and go right down to the individual employees to go and find out how they’re fitting into this mix. Average work orders per day, they’re about the same all three locations. The sales to estimate rate is a little bit higher at this shop than the other two. The other two are almost identical. So maybe we have an opportunity to learn from these guys to go ahead and have them share some information from the other ones. And then this is where we get down to the service packages and Protractor embedded in the inspection sheets being so telling because we can come in here and we can go ahead and look for individual service packages and compare them across all three locations.
So here I just went ahead and picked out a four wheel alignment at all three shops and I coming down in here and brake fluid exchange, all three shops and drivability diagnostics and so on. And then I got down here and actually looked at the number of, these are the ones that were recommended and these are the ones that were sold. And I’m looking at here and I’m thinking, well that alignment equipment’s pretty expensive and wheel alignments aren’t like vitamins. So one a day is not very good. If I’m looking at 30 day window here, I’m wondering what can we do to go ahead and maybe work on how we develop the inspection topic related to wheel alignment so we can go ahead and utilize this equipment a little bit better. But again, this is all broken down and it pulls the individual jobs out of Protractor and they’re available here for job counts and percentages and things like that. It’s interesting. Really great.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:35):
Yeah, no, I was going to say the consistency is amazing across the three shops, but certain things like diagnosed drivability, Dustin, what do you think? The center shop seems to
Dustin Brown (20:55):
Do a lot more of that, doesn’t it?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:57):
Dustin Brown (20:58):
They do. Our center shop, that’s our most ranch store, they get quite a bit of diesel work.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (21:06):
I see.
Dustin Brown (21:06):
So it’s a little different. I got actually remember a really, really good diesel guy there and I got a really good European guy there as well. So they remember
Bill Connor (21:18):
On a recommendation, remember on a recommended can job sold, this has been recommended by the technician discovered on the inspection sheet and then it’s been sold from there. So it could be that in this store here they’re seeing the check engine light is seen on when they write up the repair order, but it wasn’t actually recommended by the technician. That’s what it was brought in for.
Dustin Brown (21:40):
Okay, so just to clarify that 66% of all the check engine lights they recommended got sold
Bill Connor (21:49):
That the technicians physically recommended through their inspection were sold.
Dustin Brown (21:54):
Okay, that’s what it is. So above that brake fluid flush, they sold 27.27% of every job they recommended. That was a brake flush.
Bill Connor (22:04):
That’s correct. Yep. And your inspection sheet is built where you got dot three and dot four separated from each other. So again, your mileage is going to vary according to what’s coming into each one of your shops, but it is kind of interesting. You can go ahead and choose the type of job here. And then for individual shops, if you aren’t using your Canon jobs efficiently, you can come in here and choose them separately if they’re worded different. But like I said, you’re using the same inspection sheet across all shops so you don’t have to do that. You can come in here and just start dissecting the data and kind of pull it apart and go from there.
Dustin Brown (22:43):
Bill Connor (22:43):
Always interesting, you could tell here what’s going on behavior wise without going ahead and having to just find when you go to Protractor you’re getting gross profit percentages and things like that. Whereas this is more all about behavioral information.
Dustin Brown (23:04):
Will you show them how you can see which technicians are recommending what?
Bill Connor (23:09):
Well, I certainly can. It’s just a matter of here, just flipping on the switch,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:14):
Are you okay with showing your text names in the public? Okay,
Dustin Brown (23:19):
Yeah, I’m You’re not going to be to get ahold of these. Don’t be trying to snake my guys.
Bill Connor (23:27):
Well you know what? You keep your guys happy enough, they ain’t going nowhere. So this is my favorite number here is because everybody’s complaining about staff shortages and we’re looking at build hours per day. What we’re looking at is can we go ahead and still continue to increase production with the staff that we currently have and is over 30 days. So this is going to include Saturdays and Sundays and days off, but we got guys here that are averaging eight hours per day or more even with the Saturdays and Sundays being off. And I’ve got other shops out there that the guys even with their days off are in the 12 and 14 hour range. And then we can go down the list and you can kind of think about your technicians as a general service technician. They might be averaging five hours a day or so on. But again, you can use this to go and see should I be chasing that next unicorn or should I be working on my processes to improve them with the staff I currently have?
Dustin Brown (24:28):
Yeah, that is a great tool. This business control panel is a wonderful tool, especially when you’re seeing, you look at this and you can say you got a technician saying, well how come he’s getting all the easy work? Why is he getting all the breaks and the struts or whatever? You can go in here and say, well he’s the one recommending all of ’em, right? He’s recommended 10 sets of struts compared to you recommending two sets of struts, so who’s going to get ’em more? So it’s a good management tool to flip the script a little bit on where people have individuals have perceptions and then data and facts help bring that perception into why is it a true perception or is there something you could be doing as an individual so they’re not feeling like, Hey, you’re treating me unfairly because this guy’s getting all these strut work. You say, well look, you didn’t recommend enough struts and he’s recommended twice a month so he’s going to get twice as many stretch jobs. So just a good management tool as well and accountability tool.
Bill Connor (25:30):
So one of the things that actually come up in our prep call also that I wanted to go ahead and cover here is here, this is one business control panel handling all shops. And we were talking about Dustin, about can you see AutoVitals for more than one shop at a time logged in? And the answer is if you use the Chrome browser to go and actually log into multiple different locations, then you can have them live and it’s just a matter of pressing the button and you can bring up whatever store you want. And the advantages is all the bookmarks and everything for each individual store is going to be tied into that particular store. So it’s something that’s easily built out. And again, when you’re a multis shop operator, there’s a huge advantage to being able to remotely be able to pop up a screen and go and look and see what’s going on on any location that you choose versus having to call ’em on the phone and ask them what’s going on. And of course
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:29):
On here,
Go ahead, can you click on it? That might’ve been a little fast. Can you click on the email profiles again? So Chrome, I don’t know when they introduced that that long ago. They call it user profile, right? And so you log in with your email address, but the Chrome browser also has a profile for that email address. So this way you have one Chrome browser open and can switch between as many. I mean look at Bill as many profiles as you have set up and all the cookies and all the settings of the browser stick to that profile. So this way if you are a multi-location owner or if you coach or you help out other shops or you want to review something in a 20 group, you can super quickly compare all that live, right? It’s all real
Bill Connor (27:42):
Time advantage of this is if you turn these on and you sync ’em and you build a bookmarks bar, you can come in here and tell your service writers just go in and right click and go ahead and open ’em up and they’re all set up ready to go. Every terminal in the building is set up exactly the same. But anyways, that’s enough of that. So
Uwe Kleinschmidt (28:05):
Just using technology,
Bill Connor (28:08):
But it’s really amazing, Dustin, when I started looking through your store after our prep call the other day and I pulled ’em up there and they’re so uniform with only just a few exceptions going across the board, I could tell that you’re actually using Protractor and AutoVitals together and you’re building your inspection sheet and your service packages in one location and spreading it out to the other ones. That’s really a way to go ahead and get ’em consistent. And I could tell you a hundred percent for sure, there’s franchise operations using Protractor Enterprise the same way where they can spread that across a large huge number of shops. So Dustin, you can feel free to grow as much as you want to and still maintain that same consistency.
Darren Williams (28:51):
Yeah, nice thing there is too that you’re going to have shops that have varying levels of revenue, 1 million, 2 million, 3 million, whatever. But that type of control panel really highlights the process. So if somebody is deviating from it somehow you’re going to be able to compare them the same way consistently and not just worry about necessarily the revenue, but look at are they following the process, then we can work on the rest from there. Well,
Bill Connor (29:13):
Let’s take it even one step further than that. All your employees are going to be at a different place in their journey and using the business control panel to go ahead and look and see, hey, this one employee I need to work on getting them to edit the inspection results. The rest of ’em already there. I could focus with that one employee there and work on other things with the rest of ’em to keep everybody moving because they’re going to be all at a different place. You’re going to have new people come in, they’re going to be starting from scratch for example. So there will always be people coming and going, so why not be able to measure ’em individually rather than having everybody else take a pause in their career path until that one person catches up.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:52):
Good point.
Dustin Brown (29:54):
Yeah, that’s a fantastic management tool for sure. Training tool, accountability tool, and it’s right there. They can’t argue with the numbers, right? You
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:06):
Can’t, right. And numbers have no emotions. That’s the beauty
Bill Connor (30:13):
Unless it’s Darren Bank account.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:15):
Darren, would you mind explaining how when you onboard a Protractor shop or you convert an existing shop, how this service package population works and what the recommended practices are to get the shop going?
Darren Williams (30:36):
Sure. So onboarding is always a one-on-one process for us. Every shop is unique, even a multi-location shop, you could have facilities that are spread out, one does tires, one does general repair, one does fleet work. So it’s important to really get to know the shop, get to know their goals, and depending on what they’re trying to do, we have our default templates. Again, for the AutoFile users, they’re already going to have the codes preset up. So the goal there is to introduce them to the default packages or can jobs, let them know what can be modified, whether it’s going to be on a per location basis or the same type of packages spread out to all locations. But that’s all done. one-on-one with the shop owner when they join so they can get a feel for what can be done at the enterprise and what can be made consistent for all the stores.
Bill Connor (31:24):
One of the points I would like to go ahead and bring up that we’ve seen recently because of our rapid inflation of labor costs and so on, is we want to try and encourage people to stay away from fixed pricing on labor operation and parts in their packages. It’s better to go ahead and have a fixed time in there and a labor rate assigned to it so that way if you have a change in your labor costs, you can adjust that labor rate and it’ll update all your service packages going forward rather than having to open each one up individually and adjust the customer sales price in it. So in the past we didn’t have to worry about that because price could stay consistent for year after year after year. And now in these times, especially if you’re starting from scratch, I would highly encourage you to use that process of using the labor time or putting a time in there and letting the labor rate go ahead and be a rate that you can adjust in one place per se.
Darren Williams (32:24):
Right? The service packages have those different levels of control. So you can either take the rate or just multiplied by hours. You can have a fixed rate if you’d like, where for fixed total I should say, where you can just put in the fixed price if you’re comfortable with that. But to your point, you can make that change once at the package and that’s going to push down appropriately. So if it had been working great one way previously, but now it’s not, just go in and update that package as you need and every store is going to see that change. And if you’re using something like a labor rate matrix on top of that, it’s going to be multiplied by the more you put on a ticket, the more that rate can increase or decrease it as you need it to.
Speaker 5 (33:05):
Good stuff.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:08):
Bill Connor (33:09):
Far the main takeaway is to use the service packages, get ’em in your inspection sheets, have the technicians do an inspection, choose the appropriate job and have them how to push ’em a button, come back so the service writer is estimating everything the technician found and righteously documented
Darren Williams (33:26):
Takes away that choice. The service package or the service advisor don’t have to worry about what do I do, what do I put on there, what do I price? The technician pushes the button, the brake job shows up, you press the catalog look up and you find the right time and right parts and you’re done.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:42):
I would still, I don’t know, I don’t want to bore anybody, but for people who switched to ProTrac and had a completely different can job set up before whatever the point of sale was, how do you recommend to standardize on the library? Or are you saying rather you’re so familiar with your old can jobs, try to emulate them in Protractor and rather change the inspection sheet and go through all the work dust and head done to standardize inspection sheet and Protractor? Does my question make sense?
Darren Williams (34:24):
I believe so. Yeah. Prot tractor is different from a lot of systems in that respect where everything goes through a service package or a can job where a lot of systems can jobs or something that can be used, but you can also just throw a part in labor line on it if you want and do it manually. So that can be a little bit of a culture shock, getting used to having everything go on a package and how to deal with, well what if I need two left and a right, right here and this package only has a single strut line. There’s a little bit of an adoption phase there, getting used to the difference. So what we encourage shops to do is kind of think about the menu board, whether you have an actual board behind you or not, but think about it that way.
What do you do that’s already repriced a certain way, whether it’s oil changes, fluid flushes, a fixed labor time on a single axle for brake jobs. We take all that information, we help the shops modify those default can jobs or service packages. So that way day one, when the advisors start using it, all those old familiar can jobs are essentially already working the same way and everything else is all going to go through the catalog. So if it’s something that is a water pump where there’s not going to be a can time, they had the package set up with the right disposal fees, with the right additional recommended services and do I want to have a timing belt be recommended appropriately, serpentine belt, et cetera. All they have to do is put that can job on there, press the catalog lookup button and the rest is going to be done for them.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (35:56):
So it’s a hybrid approach, but basically what you are familiar with and need as what you call the menu board, you will reintroduce and for the rest you use the library delivered with Protractors.
Darren Williams (36:12):
Exactly. Yeah. And a lot of shops use that as a example of I need to make some pricing changes, so I’m going to go ahead and revamp at this time. We want to make it as easy as possible for the advisors.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (36:24):
Yeah, makes sense. So
Bill Connor (36:24):
Let’s take a shop that’s AutoVitals and they’ve already have a inspection sheet that they’re absolutely in love with and now they’re switching over Protractor, which is going to have different service package or canned jobs in it and they may have been mapped or not. Now what that shop would do is they would just go ahead and map their inspection sheet they already have that they love to the service packages and Protractor and now it’s done and ready to be used also. So there can be some different amounts of work to do depending on which way that they love the most, so to say.
Darren Williams (37:01):
Right, exactly. And the good thing is once you identify those packages that need to be updated to match with the inspection sheet, my understanding AutoVitals, you go in there and you run the little tool that updates all the can jobs out of the SMS and it’s done. So it’s not exactly a huge lift to get the two talking together.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:24):
Cool. So Dustin, what’s next?
Dustin Brown (37:31):
I got the infrastructure. So I guess number four, getting to this job, right,
Turnkey. Now it’s turnkey. Now another thing I want to bring up though, you still got to when you run these programs and they all integrate, be mindful of a little bit of laziness. And what I mean by that is it works so good that your advisors will just click the work order update button and it’s impossible to have a can job for everything. You’re going to see in the automotive world take, I don’t know, a diesel dually and they’re doing very drum breaks and they want to do axle seals with the drum brake. So you can add a package for rear drum brakes with axle seals, but then your list becomes long. We try to foresee every potential thing that brake job might entail. So just be a little mindful of that. Make sure your technicians are going, okay, this package is only going to give me these parts.
And on this particular job, especially being all makes and models. Another good example for a brake job, a lot of times you’re going to want a pad wire sensor for a European car or something, right? So instead of having rear brake pads and rotors, rear brake pads, rotors, calipers, rear brake pads, rotor sensor, rear brake pads, rotor caliper sensor, but that list of what those guys have to click and get really long. So to make it easier, just be sure you’re training your guys, okay, look at what your tech’s writing down. He might type in pad where sensor needed with his brake job. So that was Bill creating these packages. We were just like, how far out? How are you going to get here
Darren Williams (39:24):
In your diesel shop? I’m sure it deals with that more. If you’re going to tear down an injector and use OE parts, you’re going to be getting eight of these o o-rings and eight of those O-rings and these injectors and all the gaskets individually. I mean yeah, you’re not going to have a can job all that on there.
Bill Connor (39:40):
I’m actually glad Dustin brought up that point because there’s a tool in AutoVitals specifically designed for that and that is there’s a shop eyes only note area that on those jobs that need that the technician can provide a part list just like they used to do on paper except they use their voice and then they could go ahead and say, by the way, I need an additional 1.2 hours at a time because this is a rough bucket. Garbage sc. And now the service writer has everything they need to know to get the job done the right time. And if the technician doesn’t provide that list and the time doesn’t get changed and the parts don’t get long, Dustin knows who he has to retrain, not the entire shop.
Dustin Brown (40:18):
Darren Williams (40:19):
Great point.
Dustin Brown (40:20):
Yeah, be mindful of that, make sure they’re still looking at it. But if you think about it, 90% of your estimates there. So all you now have to do is add that brake pad sensor. All you have to add now is add that extra hour for the roster two hours. So it still saves a ton of time.
Bill Connor (40:44):
So Dustin, having done this a couple times, going in and bringing on your second and third location, what is your process to go ahead and bring that fourth one on? Do you just go ahead and have the guys that are going to go over there, go ahead and go to your first, second, and third store to train and just slide ’em over there? Or how are you going to pull off that same consistency in the number 4, 5, 6, and so on?
Dustin Brown (41:14):
Well, as they say, every deal’s different. So my third store had no staff. There was an empty building, but this one we’re looking at number four, discuss some staff. We like to bring somebody in within the organization to the, in this case we’re going to bring somebody into the organization and train the people they have. Not only they’re going to be training with culture, right? Yeah, there’s processes, procedures, but culture is real big too. We do how we do what we do. I created something called what’s called the Browns Auto Way. I actually have a Browns Auto Advisor way, a Browns auto technician way. So we’re going to teach the technicians you got to follow, it’s a little roadmap. It’s like a road with little boxes, this and this and this and this and this and this and this. For the advisors on there, it’s like inform the customer that you’re going to get a digital inspection, you’re going to get an email, you’re going to get this, you’re going to wait 20 minutes, we’re going to give you a call.
So we’re going to break somebody in one, sometimes two, depending on what makes the most sense. Definitely somebody for the front to teach them all the culture and procedures of the AutoVitals and just how we do our browse auto front way and somebody in the back to train the guys in the back instead of bringing them into the other stores. We don’t want to go off from Peter to pay Paul. So you don’t want to disrupt a good culture, a good thing going, good momentum at one store, say, Hey, you know that guy that’s doing 6 55 hours a week, I’m going to grab him. I’m have him teach somebody else. And your sales guy’s like, yeah, I still got to hit these sales numbers, you just took kind of a leg off me. So there’s a lot of finesse that comes, gets involved there. So
Bill Connor (43:05):
Can I assume if your mission statement is printed on a wall behind you, all your other processes are documented in paper somewhere.
Dustin Brown (43:13):
We utilize a program called Train. Have you ever heard of that? Yes. So that’s where we do it and that’s nice versus the paper, if you’ve got to change or update a policy, you can update it on that platform and it shoots down to everybody in the organization and you’re not walking around with a book, Hey, sign here that I updated this procedure. So we have that. We have those guys build a lot of ’em for us as well. We work with our staff members as we grow and build on, put on new positions in the organization that we didn’t have before. We’re creating new roles and these people are working together and developing the procedures of those roles
Darren Williams (44:00):
Going to be reassuring for those people. You bring on,
Dustin Brown (44:04):
Oh sorry, what Darren
Darren Williams (44:05):
Isaac, that’s going to be reassuring for the people that you bring on to making that change from old owner to new. If they can see that you’ve already got a process and are accounting for them and not making up as you go, they’re going to appreciate that.
Dustin Brown (44:16):
Yeah, absolutely.
Bill Connor (44:19):
So Dustin, I know that you’re normal, so I’m assuming at some point you had to make the decision to move yourself from working in the shop to being able to educate, delegate, and measure what your staff is doing. Did you find that a hard transition to make?
Dustin Brown (44:36):
Yeah, it’s always a little challenging because your role, my role as an owner evolves and changes. So that educate, delegate, elevate is what we like to look at. So as you’re letting go of things, trusting the people you hire to do the job you hired them to do. I find us as shop owners, we tend to be very controlled, so it can be very difficult to let go. I have a little bit of an issue with one of my, it’s like a personnel issue and this was just yesterday. So I tell the manager, Hey, I want you to talk to this person about X, Y, and Z. And I’m sitting there going, man, I could just go talk to that person and I want to. But I said no, I hired the manager, I told him to talk to him, he told me to get it done, trust them to get it done and I’ll have them report back to me in a couple of days. You know what I’m saying? So that’s challenging.
Bill Connor (45:39):
So at your shop, I guess you’ve delegated to your manager now, do they do a daily meeting and then do they do a weekly meeting? Do they do one-on-ones and then report back to you? What does that look like?
Dustin Brown (45:54):
That looks like they do their kind of like a daily huddle, daily pow wow. Internally when they’re talking to their foreman, they’re talking to the advisor, talking to their techs, come to the game plan just for the day. They do that every day without me. Once a week we go through KPIs to each weekly sales goal and all your standard of KPIs, borough average RO number of repair orders, number of new customers. There’s a big and they’ve got auto vinyl stuff, inspection sent inspections, perform seconds, research edited. So we look at it that weekly. So we do that every week and we do that as a group call with all the managers at all the stores that develop some comradery that develops teamwork between the locations. So you really want it to feel like it’s one company and not three separate little companies
Bill Connor (46:49):
And some fierce competition.
Dustin Brown (46:52):
Oh yeah, there’s competition. Then we do once a month we sit down with all the managers and we do a leadership training and that’s where we’ll sit down for about four hours in a group setting once a month. And we might talk about updates and updates, company updates, procedure updates, or we might just do communication training. We might do deescalation training, leadership training, things of that nature. Because lead techs become lead techs because they could build bill a lot of hours or managers become managers, the top sales guy. But what it takes to build a bunch of hours as a technician isn’t really the same tools it takes to be a successful shop foreman. The skills needed to sell work and be a good salesman and a top service advisor aren’t necessarily the same skills it takes to be a manager. So our industry’s really good at, hey, this guy Bill ours, he’s the foreman now. He’s the leader, have at it, but we don’t teach him what it means to be a leader, but we expect, so we get together and we try to do training like that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:02):
Bill Connor (48:02):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:04):
If I may, just to hit his point, I heard, I think it was University of Yale had won the NCAA championship in swimming for 10 years in a row. Coach couldn’t even swim.
Dustin Brown (48:23):
They kept winning,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:26):
But he could motivate and unleash the potential of every swim, right? It is just unbelievable.
Dustin Brown (48:34):
That’s exactly what
Bill Connor (48:35):
We’ve heard this on a lot of episodes is that the owner ofs shop doesn’t need to know how to do every stinking job on every vehicle that comes in the shop, but what they need to do is learn how to hire the right people, put ’em in the right spots and get out of their way and just measure the results. And it’s really hard to do from a shop owner standpoint because most of ’em are used to having smaller operations, but now the average today is one and a half, $2 million a year in up locations. So we got to get more to thinking about these things as actual true viable careers and businesses.
Dustin Brown (49:21):
It can be tough for shop owners to, what do they say? I don’t know what the number is, but I think it’s over 50% of all independent shop owners are technicians, turn shop owners, right? Challenge of letting go is real,
Bill Connor (49:43):
But that also plays into some fear of some shop owners. Like somebody like you doesn’t have the fear of going ahead and educating your staff and turning them into really good people and not worried about them going somewhere else. Because you probably take the attitude if they do go somewhere else, you want them to be successful. And in the past shop owners said, I don’t want to teach them too much because they are going to go somewhere else. So it is just kind of a different mindset that you have to develop over time.
Dustin Brown (50:13):
Yeah, absolutely. So we lost a couple guys recently. Without going into details, there wasn’t much I could do to keep ’em. They got offered too good to be too often. Hey, best of luck to you. The boomerang employee is what they’re calling him now, so he might come back. So when you lose somebody, be nice. You can’t be in the way of somebody wanting to pursue to do better for their family, do better for themselves. And if they think if they have an opportunity to do that, then you don’t want, obviously hate to see him go, but he didn’t go for us for many, many years, so six months from now they might want to come back. Who knows, right? Because
Bill Connor (51:03):
In the past we went the other way. If somebody left, we made sure they knew that they really weren’t welcome back. So there’s been another change in thinking there also. So congratulate them on exercising a new opportunity. Let them know the door’s open, they’ve done a good job and if something happens that you get there and it’s not as expected, give me a call. I’ve valued you as an employee in the past and maybe I will get in the future sometime.
Dustin Brown (51:34):
Yeah, I think with our technician shortage, the days of my father’s days of get your toolbox and get out of here are gone on.
Bill Connor (51:50):
So we’re getting down to the end here. I think what I’d like to do is ask Dustin and Darren two different questions and I’d like to start with Darren first if that’s okay. So Darren, let’s say that a shop already has AutoVitals and they’re moving over to Protractor. Basically you help them go and get set up. You’re going to put the standard job package in there and ask them to go ahead and actually map their current inspection sheet to what they’re using. But if they’re new to both AutoVitals and Protractor, then your job is going to be a lot easier for you and them both, if I understand correctly.
Darren Williams (52:29):
Absolutely. You nailed it. Yeah. We’re going to have that preset template that can work with all of your prebuilt inspections. As you mentioned earlier. Of course both can be tweaked, I’m sure to be a little bit more of a closer fit for what the shops goal are. But yeah, it’s going to be a lot of that legwork that Dustin had to do years ago is going to already be done for them.
Bill Connor (52:52):
And what is kind of a timeline or steps that they would take? They would just go and reach out to a MS Protractor and have that conversation and it all depends on what their individual goals are or is there like a standard timeline you use
Darren Williams (53:06):
Typically? I mean there’s a semi standard timeline, but we kind of go at the shop’s pace. As soon as they say I want to go, we reach out to them and we schedule an onboarding session and we’re going to ask those initial questions like, do you use a DVI? If so, who do you use? And if we hear AutoVitals, we’re going to go present them with what we already have in those prebuilt templates and explain what will need to be customized. And the timeline’s going to be up to them depending on what they have coming up in the near future. We have shops that are ready to go in a week or two. Some shops need more time because of vacation and other things. They take them four weeks, it’s all going to move at the shop owner space.
Bill Connor (53:43):
And so Protractor is a little bit unique in that it’s got a internal general ledger and accounting system built into it. And so you can handle a shop that wants to get into that. And you can also handle shops that have been using QuickBooks and you have integration available for through back office. The Protractor also, if I understand. So there’s something for both different ways.
Darren Williams (54:04):
Yeah, it’s very robust in that manner. We work with a big variety of different types of shops. So if somebody’s already been using a system that has accounting and they want to keep an SMS with accounting, we can absolutely take care of that. But if they’ve been comfortable using something like QuickBooks or Sage or those other ones out there and they prefer to keep that solution in place, then we’re just going to have them integrate through the back office and we’re going to teach them the rest of the point of sale.
Bill Connor (54:29):
Awesome. So Dustin, it’s come to that time again where I asked you what are your top three things that you would like to go ahead and make sure a shop understands about the integration of Protractor and AutoVitals and how to go and bring that shop along in the process in the most streamlined way possible form, not painless, mind you, but in a streamlined way.
Dustin Brown (54:51):
Well one, use the tools that Darren just described, get with ProTrac. If they’ve got ’em built out, I would start there. I would save a ton of time. Train your guys, train ’em, make sure they see the value, the biggest things for encounter people to see what the value of your technicians, to see why it’s valuable and how much time they’re saving. And then every time I say just dive in, dive in, get it going. You’re going to have hiccups, you’re going to hit some bumps in the road, don’t be afraid of that because those are going to help you get better and you’re going to learn from that stuff and let it print the money. Let it print the money.
Bill Connor (55:38):
I don’t know if that’s exactly legal, but I get your point for sure. Awesome. So I’d like to thank both of you for joining us here today. Dustin, you’ve helped us out before and hopefully you’ll do it again in the future. Darren, great to have you on here. Lots of good insight and I’m sure we’ll be talking on some other projects in the future. Uwe, do you have anything you want to say before we finish up?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:02):
I want to add to what Dustin just said, use the business control panel to make sure everybody is hold accountable to the procedures and have them figure out their own behavior instead of telling everybody what to do because they will see it in their own wallet very quickly.
Bill Connor (56:27):
The old, what do you think you could have done better to change this number? Right? Awesome. So once again, thank you guys. For those of you that are listening, I encourage you to go to and maybe send that link to another shop owner in your area and have them register to join us live or have them look through some of the 180 other episodes that are in there. Lots of great wisdom in there to go ahead and share. So that being said, go out there and make some money and while your customers and create a happy well-paid staff In the meantime, thank you guys. Thank
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:02):
Thank you dust. Thank you.

Back To Top