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On-line Trade Show - Seminars

No Tech to High Tech

by Art Little

Transmission Digest Magazine
This article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Transmission Digest.

This year, according to the United States government, I am legally old. Most would look at getting old as a negative thing but, having  just arrived on the scene,  I have to tell you , it doesn't look that bad to me. There are a lot of cards to play.

The “ old card “ works in a lot of situations. If I forget to do something... everybody thinks I just had one of those senior moments and moves on. 20 years ago I would have gotten fired. If I don’t want to do something... I just say I am tired and everyone understands. The trump card in this getting old game is the fact that my wife worries about me now more than ever and acts as my advocate to make my life easy for me. I don't lift anything heavier than a chicken wing now days. Sweating is out of the question.  Long work days are over. She wants me home early. Naps are a good thing. Naps.... Yes sir, I’m thinking I can get used to this.

My wife's  goal , to make my life easier,  leads me to this months article. I thought if that is her goal, and it is working out so well for me, I should make it my goal to be your advocate and try to  make your life, as a manager or shop owner, easier for you.

We will start off with a little history lesson. Being old now, I have a unique understanding of our industry’s history. I happen to have been  there for most of it. I remember when the shop only had one phone and it was a rotary dial. The accounting, banking and invoicing systems were all a paper trail kept at the shop on pads, in file cabinets and repair order racks. I was a manager at a major franchise during this time and I remember complaining  that I hated to sell a job because I had to document it in 6 different logs. It was ridiculous. The repair orders had 4 copies back then. The paper mill was brutal .

One day , I come in to work and there is a computer. They told me it would cut down the paper work. I just had to learn the program. There is a touch dial phone with 2 lines. One for customers to call and one for something called a fax machine. I had a difficult time distinguishing between the two when the phone rang for a long time but, I really liked that touch tone dialing.

Time marches on... Now days I see the Internet, Smart Phones, Skype,  Mobile Technology,  Online Banking , Online accounting, Mitchell’s On Demand, All Data, etc....  As my work takes me from one members shop to another, It becomes obvious that there is a real organizational problem in our industry.

The source of the confusion  seems to come when we mix how , and where we access our business tools used to manage our transmission shops . For example, If your production board is at the shop , unless you call and ask , you have to go to the shop to see what is going on with production. If your lead sheet is at the shop, you have to go to the shop to view it.

If your parts invoices for the week are in a stack of papers in the back office, if your cash collected for the week is on a computer program at the shop, if your sales records are at the accountants office, if your production reports are in your car, if your vendors list is on a piece of paper taped to the wall at the shop and  your checkbook in is in your desk at home, you “might” be caught up in the confusion I am talking about.

 Here is a good rule of thumb to make your life easier. Because, that is my goal now.

  1. Paper systems are a bad thing.
  2. Computer programs are outdated.
  3. Modern Internet apps are a good thing.

Most shop owners are in a transition phase using all the above to manage their shop. Your  goal should be to put all of your business management tools and systems on line . This makes everything easy to access. Mobile technology is at it’s best when you can access everything you need to manage your business online. Last month, smartphones outsold desktop computers. Mobile technology is the reason for that. Let me put “mobile technology”  in perspective right quick and explain how it can influence our industry.

Management makes decisions every day at the shop. If the information needed to make intelligent decisions is not easily accessible, the data needed to make the decision, most of time, will not be used. That leads to uninformed decisions being made by management or no decision being made at all.

For example, you get a call when you are away from the shop and have to make a decision regarding your shop. If you have to go into the shop and look in a paper file cabinet or use the shop computer’s program to get the data you need to make an intelligent decision, you will either make a decision based on your best guess or procrastinate on that decision .

That is how and why , bad decisions are made. That is how profits are won and lost. Remember, most of the time, the worst decision you can make, is to not make a decision.

Today’s modern  business systems used in the shops  are called apps . Apps are good because they do the same thing the outdated paper systems and computer programs of the past did for us. The only difference is that they  work on the Internet and are easy for us  to access . These apps are mobile. What makes them so good is the fact that these business apps can be accessed at the shop, at home,at lunch or at your kids ball game. Thus the term “mobile” technology.

If you have a smartphone, and all of your shops operating systems are set up as apps on the Internet, you have everything you need to manage your shop in your pocket no matter where you are. When someone calls you and you have to make a decision, you can use the phone you are talking on  to  access the business data you need to make a smart  decision. Thus the term, “smart “ phone. Easy access to data is the name of the game.

Let me wrap up this session of making your life easier by just saying, if you are not set up with the latest business apps available maybe you should at least look into it.  If you think about it , the only reason you can not leave the shop  is because,  that is the only place , you can access those paper systems and computer programs of the past.

 If you work on evolving all of your old operating systems to the Internet, then your  smartphone becomes, literally, the  key to your freedom. If  you were able to get away from the shop for a while every day and  start making timely informed decisions who knows what would happen ? You might make some more money and get a chance to take a nap too.

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