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AutoMaker was developed in 1992 as a means to keep control of the everyday task of taming the paper giant and allowing me to get back to fixing the cars as I understand all too well every hour I spend in the office or on the telephone is Dollars lost. I examined other programs on the market and have found there is a real need for a program written for a Tech by a Tech. In the real world of being a automotive technician, Information overload is a problem.

Basic Program Overview:

 A NEW customer enters your shop and checks in his car. Get his phone numbers and correct name spelling if possible. In the Real world the customer enters the shop while you are under a car and as soon as you released the oil drain plug :-) So I pull out a clip board and listen "Greasy hands and all" and scratch down the needs and info. When I'm ready to start on this car, I grab the clip board and retrieve the car info such as mileage, vin#, year, make and model, engine and trans type and enter the info into the Phone Directory. Each name in the Phone directory will hold up to four cars at this time. After all this is entered, You can start the invoice. Click on the TAB of the car that you want to start the invoice on. Invoice opens up and has all the customer and car info entered. Invoice prompts you for Mileage and the Technicians initials that is going to be doing that particular job. You also have the ability to have many techs doing multi jobs on the same car. Just make sure you have the proper initials on the labor and parts to credit them when it comes payroll time or pay parts commission time. Note: Payroll and Parts Commission are not included in the Base AutoMaker System.
Now that we have started a Invoice, Its time to build it, but first its proper to make a Estimate Usually a car gets checked in for a complete check out with a oil change service or small list of concerns. There are several ways to handle this:
If time permits "your not rushed or have a dedicated person to handle it" Get the car and customer info and enter it in the Phone Directory. Click on the tab above car information in Phone directory to start A Invoice on that car. Goto the Estimate File, find each estimate and send them one at a time to the Estimate Worksheet. Now go to the Estimate WorkSheet and view it. You can add a new job to the Estimate WorkSheet for this customer by simply pressing NEW JOB. For example enter NEW JOB and type in General check out and enter the fee in the Labor field. Press PRINT ESTIMATE and present it to the customer. In the real world the customer may say ... I want this done and this done and I will do this later. Go back to the Estimate WorkSheet and click on the STATUS field to select what he wants done. Return to the INVOICE and click on WORKSHEET = INVOICE. You will be prompted for only selected or All. The estimates are made into a Invoice. inventory adjusted, and the selected or all estimates in the Estimate WorkSheet deleted that were placed on the Invoice. Jobs the customer didn't want done at this time are still in the WorkSheet. As you work on the car ... chances are you will find other repairs needed or things that will need to be done at the next service. Just go to the estimate file and send them to the WorkSheet. Print it and attach to the Invoice. The next time customer returns and you start a invoice, the Estimate WorkSheet is found automatically. If the customer drops in and says I lost my estimate or list of what my car needs ... not a problem. Go to the WorkSheet and find on his name and print it out. This function allows you to keep track of needs and rapid invoice construction on return visits.
If time does not permit or you have no dedicated person to take care of the process above, You can do it later on the phone, or Fax them the Estimate WorkSheet.

Often you will look under the hood of a new drop in potential customer and you point out several weakness. They start in with the "How Much?" thing. I tell them I don't keep those figures in my head. Its in the computer. Than I evaluate this potential customer with several questions like when was the last Major service? Who's been working on this car? Do you use it for primary transportation? Do you travel? I am asking them what do you want from me? Fix for exact customer complaint or check out to bring car to road worthiness? I'm a specialist on Saab and older Mercedes diesels. I know what to look for and usually when a component is going to fail at given mileage's.

Based on the potential customers reply, I print out a Estimate for the exact job requested or If potential customer just bought the car or never took care of the service and wants to bring the service to Par. I inform them ... We start with a complete check out for a Fee. It includes a printout of Estimates of all recommendations and weakness found. I tell the customer that this way you will know what to expect and to budget for it and the ability to compare apples to apples need it be. If the customer returns .... Tracking and Invoice construction is rapid. I say show me what you want done at this time. I select the jobs in Estimate WorkSheet, turn them into a Invoice, print the parts list and get on with it.

You don't have to use the Estimate WorkSheet as you can bring in one Estimate at a time from the Estimate File to the Invoice.
You don't have to use any of the tools mentioned above. For example, if you don't have the said job archived, you can click the Enter New Job on a invoice in progress or just enter the job function in the description field and labor charge in LABOR$ field. Click enter anything and do the same for a part or get the part from inventory if you have it listed or entered. Now here comes the good part ... You can turn this job into a estimate for future use by simply clicking the Make This Job A Estimate button. During this function, you will be asked to name the estimate. Give it a descriptive name so you can retrieve it with a Key word search when you do this job again.
You can do a quick invoice straight from Invoice by just entering a name and if you have no inventory or the part the person is buying is not entered in inventory by clicking enter anything. enter the part#, Part Description, quantity and List Price. You will also have to click on the Cost and List button to enter the part cost to keep the profit report in order.
Again in the Real World ... You have to make sure you have the PARTS for the Jobs.
This is where we use PartsTracker. It will check the Estimate WorkSheet or if you already turned the Estimate WorkSheet into a Invoice, It will check the Invoice and return a list of parts not in stock. Print it and get them ordered ... so you can get on with it.
Tracking Maintenance History:
This function will check the last time a service function like air filter, spark plugs, fuel filter, ... on and on, even the brake pads and wiper blades were replaced. It compares it to the mileage on the car now and ledgers out the miles of use. It has a calculated flag field that displays a "X" if miles of use exceeds 35,000 miles. This is the first function I perform on making a new Invoice. I print the report and attach it to the invoice with a updates Estimate WorkSheet print out for jobs needed on next visit. OR If Major service is past due ... Pick up the phone after you get the estimate together. This report can be run from the Phone Directory, where you have to select what car and enter the mileage. In the Invoice file it automatically uses that cars data. Either way you are prompted to print a list of all the job functions done on said car. Its pretty impressive when a customers invoice contains the Invoice, Maintenance Report, List of all jobs performed on this car, and a refreshed Estimate.
All Invoices stay in the Invoice file till they are paid for. Then they are sent to Deposit File with a click of the button SEND TO DEPOSIT. Your enter the payment type such as Cash, CK###, Visa. There are different tools here to look at the deposit in different ways. Use the View/Print Deposit Summary for Books button to look at where your deposit stands at any time and to print it. The DO DEPOSIT button sends the works to Retail History and prints out a deposit ledger for your books and records. There is also a tool to remove any Invoice from the deposit if needed. This tool is associated with the SEND DIRECT TO HISTORY button. BTW ... You can print a Invoice Copy from Deposit, Retail History, or Customer History.
The best way to experience AutoMaker is to download the demo and load inventory with several parts, enter several customers in the Phone Directory with car info. build a couple of invoices that have different jobs and turn these jobs into a estimate. Play with the program and follow through from the invoice to the deposit. Then do it again with some of the previous customers as repeats and check out the service history functions. Need be I can supply sample data. If you do a lot of work on Saab and older Mercedes diesels ... I have a parts and estimate database I use at my shop and will supply you with it on request if AutoMaker is purchased.
AutoMaker sells for $500.00 and you will need to purchase FileMaker Pro $299.00. FileMaker Pro is the engine behind AutoMaker and allows for many powerful features such as:
Support and updates are free for the first year. After that you can expect $300.00 per year if you desire support and upgrades.
You have 30 days money back guarantee if not satisfied.
My goal is to Automate your garage control system to the MAX with as little expense and learning curve as possible. I welcome input for weakness and how to better the system. If I utilize a suggestion of a function or tool into AutoMaker, The Update is Free for the license holder that made the suggestion.
I'm Looking Forward to Serving your Shop Management needs.
Tom Townsend
Master Technician on Saab Automobiles
Software Developer for the Automotive Industry
2229 WEST LEE ST., Ste B
336 292 4170
336 286 6460
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