I spent decades working in the automotive repair industry, in retail, operations, accounting, pretty much every job except actually selling the cars.
Now, working with Acumatica Cloud ERP, I see how well this technology would streamline the financial operations of an auto body shop.
If you were working at any auto body shop, you would first create a project in Acumatica, which would reflect the initial estimate. Or you would start with an opportunity in Acumatica to create an estimate and roll that up into a project once it was won.
Within that project, you would have the initial estimate for the customer. You can easily attach pictures of the customer’s car, and it would all be part of that one repair. Also, if the estimate is done in another application, integration may be able to be set up to link this to Acumatica. Or a simpler approach would be just to attach that estimate as a file when a project is created in Acumatica so you always have it there.
Appointments and Workflow
All service orders are created from the project in Acumatica; the flow of work can easily be tracked through the different steps. For example, from tear down and rebuild, to the paint department and then detail, quality control, and on down the line to completion. You can set up different flags for each one of those stages throughout the repair.
If there is an opportunity for the body shop to submit a supplement to the insurance company for additional work needed, that is all done within this same project. The project would have the initial estimate, then the supplemental estimate would be added along with any additional pictures taken. They are captured within that one project, allowing you to see your profitability, tracking the time spent and efficiency on that vehicle repair.
Reducing Cycle Time
Cycle time is a key performance indicator (KPI) for a body shop and Acumatica can help your auto body shop track cycle times. With many insurance companies requiring repairs done in a timely manner, the lower your cycle time is, the more appealing you are to the insurance companies. If you can get the work in and out and it is done right the first time, you are more profitable, the customer is happy and your partnership with the insurance company is stronger. The dashboards in Acumatica allow you to set up warnings, or notifications, that might say to you, “You set a goal of a cycle time of five days. This project is at three days, and it hasn’t moved into the next step of the cycle.”
Body shops will order parts for a specific car and then wait for the customers to come back to complete the repair. Tracking those parts can be difficult, especially if the job is canceled and that part ends up on a shelf somewhere. The inventory management system in Acumatica has serial tracking, so you are able to attach a part with a specific job and track it. When you process a return, you attach it directly to that project. There is no question where the credit belongs. From an accounting standpoint of checks and balances, this allows for a clear audit trail. When you use the Acumatica system, all the data is exactly where it should be.
With a robust financial system like Acumatica, all your data is in one place. That means you can create reports and dashboards to analyze your business. For example:
- Appraiser productivity
- Technician productivity
- Opportunity close rate
- Cycle time trends
- Gross profit and expenses
- Profitability by job
- Profitability by the insurance company
Acumatica adds more accountability and reinforces that you can properly cost out a repair.
Industry-Specific versus Acumatica
The dealership I worked for in the past had one of the largest body shops in Connecticut. And I know that they would be very happy using Acumatica.
Most dealerships use industry-specific software – such as CCC1. The disadvantage of these systems is that they started out as appraisal system and then decided to add on the financial features. And the honest truth is that financial tools are just not as good as what you get in a true ERP system. When you’ve worked with a true financial system, you’ll realize the difference.
The core accounting side of Acumatica is amazing. Then when you bring in project and inventory management functionality, it just clicks.
When a body shop does an estimate, most people probably don’t realize all the different places that this data needs to go. With Acumatica, there is a project flow, tracking, accountability, alerts, and reports.
I believe that Acumatica Cloud ERP can dramatically impact the profitability of any automotive repair and body shop.
By Chrissy Pakutka, CAL Business Solutions, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Acumatica Partner, www.calszone.com
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