Many small business owners believe, incorrectly, that they don't need shop management software. It's not a waste of money or time to set it up because it can do so much more than you've even imagined possible. While it won't provide your customers with that human touch they crave, it can keep things organized and help you serve them more proficiently.
Shop management software can keep track of all the auto parts you currently have in stock, which ones are running low, and which ones need to be reordered. In some cases, it can also order these items for you, or at least gather all the information, so it's ready to send immediately.
You'll never sell something that isn't actually available to sell ever again and can avoid the embarrassment of telling your customer that you were wrong.
While no program is going to be compatible with everything out there, you should search for something that will run with the applications you need. For example, if you use Quickbooks or Word documents, you want programs that will export/import information for you, so you don't have to retype or copy/paste.
Many shop management software solutions will also let you write estimates and work orders, though each one is different. This feature can make it easier to create tickets and organize them by priority or first-come-first-serve. Your technicians won't be rushing around trying to determine who came in first or which one will take longer because it's all in the system.
Likewise, you want something that's easy to use and functional. If it has all the bells and whistles, but you can't figure out how to print the ticket or save it, the program won't do much good. The same goes if it doesn't have any features you really need, but is easy to use.
While some auto repair shops prefer to clock in and out on paper or by the honor system, it can be much easier if your program has a time clock built in. You don't have to remember if Joe left early last Friday or if Bob came in late because they punch a clock or sign into their computer and it is all timestamped.
Service monitoring means that you can keep track of the vehicles and customers, sometimes together, but most of the time, separately. When you know more about the cars and clients in-house, you can make better decisions.