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Auto Repair Shops Embrace Power of Paperless
JUN 12, 2014 10:20 AM
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By Mike Risich

Electronic signatures are common in grocery stores, are frequently used for FedEx deliveries and are growing in popularity at automotive repair shops as customers digitally sign to authorize work.

At the latter, customer signatures and accompanying digital multi-point inspections, repair orders and estimates are then stored on the cloud, instead of their paper predecessors cramping overstuffed filing cabinets, being crumpled, lost, or requiring re-entry into the shop’s software management system.

Going paperless

Automotive software solutions which integrate with shop management systems and enable repair technicians and shop advisors to carry out common paper-and-pencil tasks on mobile devices dramatically cut down on paper use. And that’s a good thing since, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper consumption has tripled since 1960.

At that rate, the EPA estimates that Americans contribute to 85 million tons of paper ending up in the waste stream and more than 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges being dumped in landfills yearly.

Add in the fact that the average U.S. officer worker prints 10,000 pages of paper per year and it’s clear that going paperless, or at least cutting back on paper and printing use, is beneficial.


Besides the obvious advantages of saving trees and helping businesses to operate with a more environmentally-friendly footprint and less waste, going paperless means greater business efficiency, increased productivity, higher revenues and more accurate data capture.

‘Going green’ with mobile technology

Traditional repair shop functions such as vehicle inspections, estimates and the building of repair orders- prior to the advent of recent automotive software solutions, which allow customer check-in via a tablet-powered kiosk and the delivery of digital multi-point inspections and more using handheld mobile technology-were typically carried out in a tedious handwritten format. As such, tasks relied almost exclusively on a technician’s ability to correctly write a 17-digit vehicle identification number, for instance, and for those symbols to be legible for the service advisor, who most likely had to input the information.

Now, with revolutionary mobile technology disrupting the automotive computing space, technicians can, within seconds, scan and decode vehicle identification numbers, license plates and more. These digital capabilities mean paper-and-pencil inspections, estimates and repair orders are moving toward technology extinction in the same fashion as typewriters. By the same token, the need to have paper copies of automotive repair reports is dwindling as more and more vehicle owners prefer text or email notifications.

Mobile technology has helped repair shops seamlessly cut 10 steps from typical desktop functions, saving technicians several minutes per customer order and freeing up shop staff to handle higher customer volumes while keeping staffing levels flat.

In addition, integrating digital capabilities with texting functionality helps businesses to be more efficient in daily operations. Empowering the vehicle owner to easily flip through vehicle photos and view estimates, inspections, work orders and more from their mobile device has been proven to reduce customer approval time by more than 50 percent, meaning it is far less likely for vehicles to be removed from lifts only to be re-added hours later once customers are reached.

For a growing number of the nation’s 275,000 independent auto repair shops, going paperless not only makes good environmental sense, it also saves “green” in the process.


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Mike Risich has been involved in software development since 1995. While teaching a Microsoft-based class in Bucks County, Pa., a student who owned an auto repair shop asked for help with the computer programs he used to organize sales. Mike realized a large gap between the technologies used in the automotive industry and those that were available in other industries.

The opportunity to develop time-saving software solutions already in use by doctors, dentists, convenience stores and airports became apparent. His introduction to the automotive industry began in 2008 with the formation of BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY - a software solutions company based strictly in the automotive world.

His affiliations quickly grew to partnerships, including with Mitchell 1, a Snap-On Tools company, which has officially licensed three of BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY’s products. The company serves thousands of auto repair shops across the U.S., Canada, South America and Guam.

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