Here are some questions Joan Koebernick suggests dealers ask a vendor before signing on the dotted line to purchase that company's software:
* How long has the company been in business?
* How has this software vendor planned for succession? In other words, what will happen to your shop's system and information if the software owner sells the firm?
* If the software company is sold, how is it going to protect your interests? A new company discontinuing the software you use can cost you a lot of time and money.
* Will you be able to carry your existing data over to the new system-including customer history and vehicle information-or will have you have to re-enter all that information?
* Can you move all of the data or only some of it?
* What is the cost of the system, including the support, fees and additional units for multiple users?
Here are some questions dealers should ask the software company's references:
* Does the company provide training? Was it adequate?
* What problems have you had with this system?
* How quickly were those problems resolved?
* How many ongoing problems are you having?
* How would you rate this company's customer and technical support from one to five, five being the best?
* How long are you on hold when you call for support? If you leave a message, do they call back in a timely manner?
* Does the software come with a user's guide-either printed or online-so that you don't have to call someone every time you have a problem? How would you rate the user's guide?
Source: Joan Koebernick, Dakota-K Auto Repair and Tire Center; the Automotive Service Association's AutoInc. magazine.