Creating efficiencies is a significant goal for any business, and embracing technology is a key component to that objective.
Whether it is using a point-of-sale (POS) system to pull up pricing in real time or better order management, aftermarket tire and automotive service dealers alike are turning to software providers to facilitate the best ways forward.
Many options are available in the market today. Here's a look at some of the solutions offered by four, well-known software providers.
MAM Software Inc.
One of the latest innovations from Blue Bell, Pa.-based MAM Software, which specializes in software for small to large tire and automotive businesses in North America, is CarSide, a cloud-based auto repair management solution that helps shops perform digital vehicle inspections.
"The (CarSide) solution educates vehicle owners about their auto repair tasks by updating them with the latest videos and pictures," John Fischer, vice president, sales and marketing, said. "These multimedia files can be sent to customers by email or text."
Additionally, CarSide enables technicians to perform vehicle inspections using mobile devices. Users can shoot video, take pictures and add notes.
"The solution also provides workflow management tools, which allow all team members to view the status of each work order and expected actions during the day," Mr. Fischer said. "Service writers can update the status of jobs and send notifications to technicians informing them if the order is approved or parts are available."
On the agenda for 2019 is the debut of MAM Commerce, a suite of connectivity and catalog solutions that enables businesses in the tire and service supply chain to collaborate and transact online with reduced costs and greater efficiency, Mr. Fischer said.
Built on MAM's OpenWebs e-commerce and Autocat catalog platforms, the system's open architecture provides users with one solution for all connectivity requirements, from online inquiries and ordering, to secure trading and accounting functions.
MAM, whose solutions include point-of-sale (POS), dealer website tire selection, digital vehicle inspection, customer estimates, inventory management and purchasing, is creating a cloud-based version of its VAST POS software for single- and multiple-outlet locations.
"VAST Online has a modern user interface," Mr. Fischer said, that maintains a workflow users are comfortable with. It will operate on a desktop or tablet.
Mr. Fischer said software updates and backups occur automatically in a secure data center.
"With its seamless connectivity to MAM Software's e-commerce solution, shops can instantly see part and tire availability at participating suppliers and place hot-shot orders directly within a work order," Mr. Fischer said.
"We have many customers that want to perform all of their business operations within a store totally on a mobile device, similar to the user experience at an Apple store," he added.
While some dealers are embracing technological advancements, some aspects are left behind.
Digital inspection is a relatively new, but growing technology, Mr. Fischer said, but only a minority of dealers are using it. Dealers that have deployed CarSide, he added, have reported on average repair order increases of 15 percent when vehicle digital inspections have been performed.
Dealers should embrace electronic business because millennials want to conduct business electronically, Mr. Fischer said. Dealers need to employ technology more effectively to reach this segment, he said.
"They're in the business of selling tires and service and are not technology people. Smaller dealers do not have the resources for an IT department, so they really need help from companies like us."
Steve Sweat, general manager at Atlanta-based Midtown Tire, said his company has been using VAST for several years and began using CarSide a little more than a year ago.
"Software can be a blessing or a curse. VAST has been good for us although not without its challenges," Mr. Sweat said.
"The ability to integrate with QuickBooks and Goodyear National accounts (is) crucial for us. We can track our profit daily with extreme accuracy, which is key to running business properly."
He said better CRM tools and reporting would be helpful in the future, as well as improved online scheduling. Midtown Tire operates seven stores in and around Atlanta.
Josh Porter, managing director at Oahu, Hawaii-based Lex Brodie's Tire Co., is another VAST user looking to add CarSide. He recently added online quoting via OpenWebs and is looking to deploy CarSide at the dealership's five locations in the next year.