Garages face parts pricing dilemma according to TechMan

TechMan says customers need to beware what they wish for when it comes to having suppliers’ catalogues available within their garage management system. Leo Freebairn, TechMan’s national sales manager says whilst customers ‘often ask for this’ it is important garages realise this convenience can come at a cost to their business.

TechMan is an independent web-based garage management system. It is frequently compared by garages to lower cost systems tied to their preferred motor factor suppliers, which have parts catalogues and prices linked in. “This can streamline the process of parts pricing and ordering for sure,” said Freebairn. “But it’s at a cost if you’re not getting best value for money from your parts supplier.”

Dan MacDonald is director at Mac Automotive. The family run garage in Worthing offers a wide range of services for all makes of vehicle. He’s been a TechMan customer since the end of 2016.

“Moving to TechMan was the best thing I’ve done,” he said. “Loading parts does take more time but we’ve seen several clear benefits.”

With TechMan, all parts ordered to a job need their part number, cost price and mark-up or sell out price inputting, along with the supplier’s invoice number.

“This ensures we don’t miss parts off our own invoices to customers, which can be a problem on long jobs that need several parts orders,” said MacDonald.

Another benefit Mac Automotive has seen is in full traceability of parts.

“We used to have faulty parts waiting around in the workshop,” said MacDonald. “Now we don’t need to go searching for old paperwork.

“Say a starter motor fails after a few months, we just use TechMan to find the customer, view the job and see the date and supplier invoice number, making it really easy to arrange the warranty return.”

Beyond streamlining returns and ensuring parts all get invoiced out, Mac Automotive has found the biggest benefit from TechMan has been in detecting supplier price increases.

“Over time, TechMan builds a database of all our previous parts prices,” said MacDonald. “So we can see increases from the last time we bought, otherwise we just wouldn’t notice prices creeping up.”

Mac Automotive say TechMan enabled them to spot significant price rises from their main supplier 8 or 9 months ago.

“Everything started going up – filters by 50 pence or £1 and other parts by £10 or more,” said MacDonald.

“We raise price queries with the branch now, who will normally say: ‘head office has changed it, we’ll move it back down’ so it’s saving us a lot of money.”

TechMan point out detecting changes in price is only possible precisely because parts are inputted manually and historic data is stored.

“Yes absolutely, it’s fast and convenient to pull live prices into the job,” said Freebairn. “But our customers are telling us TechMan is helping them avoid parts price increases.”

Kevin Steel runs Jim Steel Garage in Beeston with son Sam. Having moved to TechMan in August 2017 he’s been able to save around £2,000 on parts cost in six months, more than paying from TechMan from that source alone.

“Our main supplier has been increasing prices over the last six months without telling us and we’ve been able to challenge it successfully,” said Steel. “Yes, our old system was faster with parts prices but it’s really laziness if ease and speed are coming at the expense of profit!”

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