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When choosing a shop management system, there’s a lot to consider. Jason Bertellotti, vice president of repair solutions for Mitchell International, shares some insights into what shops should think about when selecting the system that will be, in essence, the backbone of your shop’s operations.

Let’s start with the solutions themselves. The first thing a shop owner should consider is, what does your organization look like today, and what do you want it to look like tomorrow? Pick a solution that will support the current approach, and will grow as you want to grow. More is not necessarily better when you’re adopting a solution. Feel empowered to buy only the right thing, the solution with the functionality you need, but that is able to grow later and let you add more features when you need them.

The second thing to consider is the total cost of ownership. The smallest cost when a shop is implementing new technology is the software itself, the subscription fee. But a lot more goes into the total cost of ownership. Ask: Do I have to buy new hardware? What’s the cost to support the hardware? Will I have to hire IT staff, or outsource to an IT vendor? What are the costs of training? There are ongoing costs; it’s not just a one-time expense.

The third piece is the vendor. With any technology product, you want to make sure that the vendor is stable and committed to being around as long as you are. Do they have the infrastructure to be a partner, and are they experienced with supporting a body shop that’s purchased a management system, versus estimating or smaller applications? Shop owners should be comfortable that their vendor really understands and has the people and infrastructure to support them.

The fourth thing: You need to be ready for any change this large. Some employees will not be ready and may not embrace it. They need to be prepared for that change. A good solution should support your process, not change it. Most shops go through some pain, and they get through it as they work through the kinks.

The future focus of all collision repair software is integrated platforms.Mitchell’s RepairCenter is a single workspace that allows the shop to use all our management system functionality, estimating functionality, repair methods and customer satisfaction solutions in a single integrated workflow. Shops can pick only the modules that they want to use and have it all in a single solution. It all comes together, allowing you to manage your business, your customer and the repair, in the way that you choose.

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