Will Your Shop Benefit From A Tablet ?

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WP_20140418_002Tablets are popular everywhere, and are often advertised as the solution to all of life’s tasks.  In fact, they are compact, light, go with you, and can do quite a few things.  This leads to the question:  “Will your shop benefit using tablets to handle data ?”

Let’s first distinguish between the types of tablets.  There are two.  Android and iPad tablets run small applets that are specific to individual tasks.  They are popular for reading the news, sharing on social media, playing games, and perhaps with photo work.  Windows tablets are quite different.  They are actually full computers with touch screens.  They usually have slightly larger screens, and can run full business applications just like your desktop and notebook computers.

A Windows tablet can be great for working in your business, if it uses software that takes advantage of the touch screen, and onscreen keyboard.  To make this work you will want a tablet that has a docking station ( for wired internet, connection to a large monitor, and that keeps the tablet charged ).  It also should have Windows 8.1 installed.  You will also want a bluetooth keyboard and mouse.  The tablet resides in the docking station, and it’s screen is off, but your program displays on the large monitor.  This is particularly effective for a service writer’s workstation.  The bluetooth keyboard and mouse make it quite easy to use as a regular workstation, and the monitor makes it always easy to read.

When a client comes in, the Service Writer can simply grab the tablet off the dock, walk out to the vehicle, make the inspection, take photos, and create the Estimate.  The tablet remains in the program and seamlessly connects via the wi-fi.  It’s functioning is always live, so all lookups, and data entry, are immediate.  In fact, from the car, the service writer can send the Estimate to the printer, and the customer can go back to the front desk, sign the master, and receive their copy.

The service writer can move from one client to another very quickly, initiating individual workorders as they go.  When the “outside” work is done, they simply put the tablet back on the dock and continue their work at the desk.  There are no switches to throw or complicated procedures to follow.  The screen automatically comes on when the device is removed from the dock, and transfers to the large monitor when it is replaced.

With this in mind, what type of tablet works best ?  Look for those answers in the next post on this site.

Welcoming Carfax Service Histories

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Auto Shop Writer has long enjoyed a relationship with CARFAX, the automotive industry information system  We not only continue this in 2013, but now we have added a new feature, service histories from other repair facilities.

Originally we offered the CARFAX VIN database within our decoding system.  This is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive source of information identifying all of the assembly facts on a specific car.  It includes the make, model, submodel, and manufacturing information.  To that it adds the specifications on the engine, drive train, transmission, body, and wheels.

About 2 years ago we were able to integrate QuickVIN.  With this feature, its not necessary to enter that long VIN number.  Simply enter the License and State of a vehicle new to your service center and CARFAX will provide the VIN which ASW will then decode.

Now CARFAX has added service histories to the feature list.  A single button in the Vehicle edit screen, workorder, or appointment scheduler will show you what services were provided previously, and when, even if they were done at other locations.

Throughout, CARFAX has only asked that our clients submit services performed on vehicles.  Auto Shop Writer handles this automatically each day.  The information is added to the full CARFAX reports which are purchased by interested people when your client sells the car.  It also includes information about the shop who performed the service which is an excellent free advertising method.

CARFAX services are provided to all Auto Shop Writer users at no extra charge !