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A tool for profits

Today's software needs to quickly access specific..


May 8, 2008
By GTS Services

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Over the years, autoglass shop owners have expressed that it is not
enough just to have computer software to run their businesses.

Over the years, autoglass shop owners have expressed that it is not enough just to have computer software to run their businesses. Today’s software needs to quickly access specific information in their shop systems to aid them in better business decision making. They need to support more complex product mixes, as more
autoglass shops are diversifying their product line in order to maintain margins and sales. For example, more shops are selling flat glass or a variety of related items to expand their service to customers.

In addition, software allow shop owners the flexibility to manage their businesses by allowing them to analyze profitability with an easy-to-use tool, understand advertising, marketing and the success of their cost initiatives as well as managing labour efficiencies.

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Trends in software development
In today’s business climate, software has to be flexible enough to weather industry changes. For example, some industry specific software can help identify how the NAGS rebalancing would affect pricing by using sales data to evaluate a number of diverse glass discounts combined with various labour rates to calculate potential profits. Autoglass shops can now evaluate different scenarios to help maintain an equivalent selling price to what they have currently, as well as understand the impact of accepting various insurance contract offers.

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Another area of development focusses on better management tools. Shops can analyze profitability, cost savings and better ways to operate their business. Another key trend is building flexibility into the software so it can easily be tailored to the shop’s specific needs. Shops also need to track advertising dollars in order to see where they are effective. They need to leverage this information to drive growth and profitability.

The internet is playing a bigger role in the autoglass industry today. New software solutions for wholesale distributors offer web/online order capabilities for retail customers. Retail glass shops can use any web browser to connect directly with wholesale distributors. The retailer can view inventory availability and place orders without a phone call. Wholesalers become more competitive by increasing efficiency while retailers receive improved service levels.

Advantages of autoglass software
A key advantage is improved efficiency. For example, combining state-of-the-art software, eCommerce integration, mobile installers and a call centre provide improved and efficient customer service. Software is key to keeping the operation running smoothly across wide geographical areas. Organized and secure access to key information at remote branches gives a strategic advantage. Installers can access needed information located in a central shop from remote locations and computer-aided data entry increases efficiency. For example, entering a VIN and having the software look up the vehicle is an accurate and key time saving tool. To illustrate how eCommerce is another key advantage, an electronic dispatch brings key customer and car information from the claims administrator saving the shop time. Moreover, better efficiency translates to more sales and allows them to service and sell to the consumer rather than become data entry
technicians.

Software can be a significant strategic advantage when it comes to making business decisions. When a shop knows that particular advertising or marketing efforts generate profitable revenue, they can spend their marketing dollars more effectively.

The software is designed to enforce consistent business processes as chosen by shop owners. Software that allows only one business process limits the owner’s ability to adjust to the needs of their specific market.
Software should be flexible and easily configured to a shop’s specifications to preserve key value for their customers. Once this process is set up, it will maintain consistency in shop operations, job after job.

In the past, shops have looked for software that contains basic ‘look-up’ features and basic point of sale functionality to complete transactions with their customers accurately. Today, shops are using software that provide features that save time, money and increase sales. Strong emphasis on a streamlined order entry interface including receiving job dispatches electronically, automated EDI billing and accounting packages like QuickBooks is becoming a frequent request.

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Profit by saving
There are several ways that a good autoglass software package can save shop owners money. The order entry fields of the application ensure accurate pricing for the glass and related services. Additionally important, the labour for each job is tracked precisely. The eCommerce features surpass the basic software capabilities in receiving the dispatches electronically. The system also audits the transaction from dispatch to the invoice and through the EDI billing cycle, reducing rejects. Billing correct pricing on each job is the lifeblood of autoglass shops. It is equally important to monitor total sales and profits with a great data analysis tool. It also helps shop owners to make critical business decisions regarding the way they price, advertise, market and sell their products.

Choosing a software vendor
One of the key factors to consider is the software company’s track record and how long they will be around? Other factors to consider are how well the company supports its product. How frequently is the product improved? Are the improvements of value? What kinds of training does the company provide? You need to choose a vendor that has expertise with telecommunications and computer systems. It is always a good idea to make sure the software vendor provides references from reputable organizations and to make sure you choose a solution that allows for growth or industry changes.

Also important is choosing a software vendor that has the experience and expertise to update your software in response to changes in the glass industry and in technology.

In today’s dynamic autoglass repair and replacement market, software is becoming a necessity. If shop owners are not using software to drive growth, efficiency and profitability, they need to re-evaluate their business plan. Ultimately, if autoglass businesses are not using the best software tools to maintain their profitability and drive success, the industry changes will erode their market share and margins. -end-

Article courtesy of GTS Services, a software provider to the glass industry located in Portland, Oregon.


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