In the battle to outperform the competition, profitability and efficiency are key. Having the right software package for your tire dealership can help ensure things are running as smoothly as possible. We spoke with several software company representatives to get their recommendations on this important tool for your business.
When it comes to driving efficiency, today’s tire dealer software can help by having the most important information readily available and easily accessible for use at a moment’s notice, according to Jefferson Carpenter, director of software sales for TCS Technologies, an ARI Company.
“This could be anything from the pricing of tires, services and parts to the specific contract pricing for an individual customer,” he says.
Similarly, Mike Andreoli, founder of Andreoli Software, says that computerized bay management and online appointment scheduling are close to the top of the list for driving shop efficiency.
“Today’s busy consumers expect to be able to book an appointment online,” he explains. “For consumers who call, being able to quickly review your bay availability is critical to closing the sale and getting the consumer in the shop at a time that works for them.”
MaddenCo President Jay Adams points to tracking inventory and maintaining proper pricing as two important ways software systems can drive efficiency.
“If you don’t know what inventory you have or don’t trust your inventory counts, and your pricing is out of whack as a result, you will be paying somebody to figure it out or you will be spending a lot of time doing it yourself,” he says.
There are several ways software systems can boost profitability at the point of sale and when communicating with existing customers. Adams says that software systems, if set up properly, can ensure any add-on items make it to the ticket every time.
“Software systems can also help you maintain proper margins when you are hit with price increases,” he adds. “Capturing customer/vehicle data for your marketing efforts also helps drive profitability.”
James Krakower, founder of JMK Computerized TDIS, says software systems can help ensure future sales by “locking in customer loyalty” through customer-specific web access that shows purchase history and allows for automated and seamless appointment scheduling.
When it comes to the functionality of software systems, there are several basic features dealers should expect.
“A POS system should be more than point-of sale, merely printing quotes and invoices,” says Dave Vogel, general manager at ASA Automotive Systems. “It should be a full business management system that quickly and easily helps dealers generate and retain more revenue.”
He listed several basic features that every system should have: POS, inventory control, accounts receivable and payable, quoting and estimating, direct ordering from parts suppliers and tire wholesalers, customer appointment scheduler, emailing capabilities, declined services tracking and in-depth reporting and business analytics.
Krakower adds that cloud-based operations minimize failure points, as well as eliminate the need for on-site server hardware and related tech support. They also ensure the latest software release is in place.
Going above and beyond those functions, Adams notes that connections to vendors such as Carfax and Epicor are nice options — as are features like bar code scanning if maintaining an inventory, and automated national account processing if you’re in the commercial business.
Carpenter mentioned several available advanced features, including integrated mobile inspection apps for tablets or phones that link directly with the POS; integrations with alignment systems to capture before and after readings and then link them with the corresponding work orders; integrations with TPMS and DOT Tire Registration software; and a reporting system to have the ability to extract data into report format.
Selecting a Vendor
There are some important considerations dealers should keep in mind when shopping for software or searching for a vendor.
“Software considerations are dependent upon a dealer’s stage of business,” MaddenCo’s Adams says. “If a dealer is starting out and just wants to print tickets for customers, then an off-the-shelf package such as QuickBooks or Sage may be the right option. If a dealer is growing and/or wants to be more sophisticated, then a tire dealer-specific software is the answer.”
JMK Computerized TDIS’ Krakower advises dealers to base the decision on references from satisfied dealers of parallel size and operation to their own.
“Confirm an application meets specific needs for their type of operation — product type, geographical factors, etc.,” he says, adding that a software provider also should provide an option to fully convert data from the existing system to the new one.
Similarly, Andreoli Software’s Andreoli recommends dealers look at a company’s track record and reputation when it comes to tech service and support.
“Talk is cheap; a software company’s quality of support over time tells you as much about the company as anything.”
ASA Automotive Systems’ Vogel says instead of juggling different providers for point-of-sale and accounting, dealers should look to a partner that develops and provides a seamless solution.
“This approach to business process management significantly reduces the effort of installation, training, support and maintenance,” he explains. “The dealer and store personnel would just need to deal with one vendor and learn one software.”
“Do not base a decision on software wholly on price,” TCS Technologies’ Carpenter concludes. “The right software will not only help manage your business, but help it to grow its bottom line exponentially and offset the cost of the software time and time again.”
Read more from Tire Review’s 2019 Business Planning Guide: Customer Financing Options for Tire Dealers; Business Succession Planning for Tire Dealerships; and Improved Bay Productivity Maximizes Profitability.
Check out the rest of the November digital edition of Tire Review here.