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7 Steps to Running a Paperless Auto Repair Shop

Running paperless can have a significant impact on streamlining operations in an auto repair shop. Printing information from the shop management system can be thought of as a break in process flow when considering internally used information. Interaction with the customer at the start and end of the process can be viewed differently but the waste factor is still evident. Anytime information is handwritten on a document then entered into the computer duplication of effort and potential for error occur. Anytime information is printed when it could be transmitted electronically waste occurs. So running paperless means more than saving trees. It also eliminates steps in the repair process. This reduces operating costs and increases capacity. The following are steps to running a paperless shop:

  1. Use Electronic Quotes – Produce computer generated quotes and send them to the customer if necessary or if they’re present let them view the quote on a computer screen.
  2. Eliminate Order Forms – Carrying a clip board to the vehicle with a stack of forms on it to review repair requirements with the customer is wasteful in more ways than one. Defining repair requirements when the appointment is made will take care of a good portion of this. If the customer is a walk in then take the information from the customer and enter it directly into the computer system. Writing it down then keying it in not only wastes paper but results in the task being done twice.
  3. Email Customers Their Documents – Rather than handing customers their estimates and invoices at the counter – email them. Also, email Accounts Receivable statements rather than printing them and mailing them. These actions will cut down on paper/printer usage and save time as well.
  4. Do Away with the Shop Packet – Printing a packet for each vehicle and using it as a vehicle to drive the repair process presents a number of issues. In addition to wasting paper it creates a fragmented process definition. All personnel – service advisors, parts people and technicians should be able to work directly on the shop system without using paper documents.
  5. Eliminate Inspection Forms – Most shops do a courtesy inspection on every vehicle that comes to their shop. The forms are filled in and then stored so they can be referenced. Also part of the inspection process involves making recommendations for areas that need service. Performing the inspection process by working directly on the computer will eliminate a good deal of manual effort.
  6. Use Signature Capture – Using credit card processing that’s integrated with the shop management system can provide a good productivity boost and streamline the vehicle delivery process. Taking that one step further – using electronic signature capture will eliminate the need to print a paper receipt and have the customer sign it.
  7. Process Supplier Transactions Electronically – Supplier orders don’t need to be processed on paper. Orders can be placed via the supplier web site or through shop management system integration. Likewise payments can be made either with a credit card or electronic bank transfer.

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