Garage management system- Case Study: Fitch Autos
garage management system
About the company
Neil has been in the automotive industry for the last 11 years. The Fitch Autos garage is a family-run business that his dad set up 42 years ago. Since his dad has retired, Neil and his brother have taken over the company between them and have been running it for the last 10 years.
Since they have taken over; the business has grown to 6 techs and 3 office staff. They’ve also gone from 1 unit to 2 units that sit back to back, and since joining Garage Hive in 2019, their turnover has grown 25%.
"The industry has changed a lot over the last 10 years, with technology becoming a crucial part of helping us run the business and in meeting the customers increasing expectations, allowing me to stay ahead of the competition. I had tried a couple of different software providers to enable me to achieve this and found they could not give me what I needed, leading to me look for new software"
We asked Neil some questions about their journey over the last two years and how Garage Hive helped accomplish their business goals.
What problems were you facing which made you decide you wanted to change?
"The business data from our previous software was a problem. We weren't getting from it what we needed. It wasn't accurate or relevant. We wanted specific data so we could monitor how we were performing daily, and also at a weekly level, so we could know what is going on at any one point in real-time without having to manually pull it out of our current system and edit the data. To manipulate the data ourselves was a lot of work and time-consuming. With Garage Hive you have all the information at your fingertips, making it easy to make decisions quickly based on the data”
“The diary was also an issue for us in our previous software. The problem with it was that it was pretty unclear. When there was a job with a large amount of labour required to complete it, we’d often want to spread this labour over multiple days, say 4 hours on Monday and 4 hours on Tuesday, but the dairy would only allow us to add all the labour hours on the Monday for example. It meant we’d often not book in enough work on Monday, but then we’d potentially book in too much work on Tuesday, as we didn’t account for the 4 hours. With Garage Hive, you can create allocations of time, so if you know something will take you 4 hours the first day it’s booked in, you can allocate the 4 hours on that day and then allocate another 4 hours for the same job another day. This makes it a lot easier for me to plan and organise the techs time better and more effectively fill my diary with work.”
What made Garage Hive stand out for you compared to others on the market?
“It is a lot faster in terms of what we needed and also it is much easier to get instant data which is instant feedback, We can see precisely what is going on within the garage daily.”
How was your experience during the implementation process?
“In terms of the initial training, Alex and Rhys came down to do the install with us. Both were really good, and with us having a group set up on WhatsApp where you could ask a question straight away or send a photo, it was so easy to get that live support when you needed it.”
“Garage Hive makes you do things the right way upfront, which really enables you to create the good habits early on. After two or three weeks, it became second nature, and we soon found that it helped us trust the process and feel more in control day to day. On other software, we could skip steps which the accountant then had to sort out later”
How did you find the support from our Garage Hive team during and after going live?
“The support was great! With the WhatsApp group that we had access to, we could ask questions and get instant answers and send pictures or messages at any point, and people would get back to us, so we could still get on with doing something else. It’s so much better than any of the garage management systems that I’ve used. You always get support very quickly, and the support is second to none.”
What are your favourite features?
“We found using the contactless drop off alongside pay by Garage Link during Covid was pivotal to us staying open, as we had a week where all three office staff had to isolate. With Garage Hive, we still managed to run the office with everyone working from home. Contactless drop off meant the customer dropped their keys off at the garage, which notified our front of house through the tiles system on Garage Hive.”
“The pay by Garage Link is excellent! We used that a lot alongside the contactless drop off which we used loads during Covid. We use it to send the links to customers as it’s convenient for them to pay through their phones before collecting their keys. This made things a lot easier when giving the keys and invoice to the customer when they came to collect their vehicle and took a lot of pressure off our front of house as they didn’t need to use the card terminals.”
"It's such a great benefit doing things remotely, that is another great bonus. It gave us a massive advantage, which feels nice as when everyone had to self-isolate. It was a difficult time for us, we managed to limit the impact by getting our service advisors set up to work from home."
“I really like is the Autodata integration. We used to have an issue when newer cars came in like a 20 plate, and we’d do our full-service checklist, but then we’d end up doing more checks on the vehicle than what’s required due to the manufacturer’s service requirements. Since the update with the service interval matrix for Autodata, we can now attach the manufacturer’s schedule and do the checks required for its warranty without printing it off separately. It is a huge time saver because you haven’t got to go into Autodata separately.”
“Another feature I like is the service packages, they are a huge time saver, and I like how I can add specific labour times and costs based on the make of the vehicle, engine size, and model type. It is good how you can put the standard pricing in and filter it down to the vehicle type specifically.”
What is the most significant change have you noticed since switching over to Garage Hive?
“Turnover growth, but this will be partly Garage Hive, but also down to us making key decisions. How Garage Hive did help with those decisions was the data that comes with it. You can quickly see what’s working and what’s not working within the data, and because you can find this so quickly, you can monitor it and very quickly assess the impact of the changes you make. It spurred me on to continue making more changes which helped us make more money. Since coming onto Garage Hive, we’ve raised our average invoice value by over £90 per invoice by seeing where the weak points in the business were through Garage Hive. This is based on us doing 450 jobs roughly per month previously, and now we are doing 390. We have considerably fewer jobs now, therefore, the garage is calmer and less stressful for everyone.”
“We are making more money than before. This is down to us doing checklist inspections on every vehicle, which has increased the average invoice value by 32% and gross profit is up by 15%.”
How did your Technicians take to using Garage Hive?
“Obviously, because we’ve been using other software previously, it wasn’t too much of a significant change for them, as they were already doing vehicle inspections. Hence, they found it an effortless transition onto Garage Hive. No one kicked off or pushed back on using it how we wanted them to use it.”
How are things going now? What’s next?
"It's going well, we have recently had some refresher training with Tom from Garage Hive to help us get more out of the system. The staff took to it well and seem to figure out lots of things themselves now."
“Our accountant has also switched over to using the Microsoft Dynamics accountancy package within Garage Hive, and they’re getting on really well with it.”
“We are looking to move over to a more premium brand of work, like BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover and jaguar, for example.”
Have you enjoyed being a part of the Facebook community?
“Yeah, it’s good! It is beneficial, and there are loads of switched-on garage owners on there, and everyone bounces ideas off each other. It’s nice to see how open everyone is to share their ideas and how they give feedback to help improve the software further.”
Why would you recommend Garage Hive to another garage owner?
"I recommend Garage Hive because it helps you understand your business a lot more than you do now. The business performance data lets you see what's going well and what's not quite right and make positive changes. For me, it's all about that it allows me to make decisions that can positively impact our business quickly and confidently."