THA 071: Underutilized Shop Management Systems (SMS)


 Your Learning Curve Never Sounded So Good

The Panel:

Tom Ham, with the help of his wife Deb, is the creator and owner of Automotive Management Network an 12,000 plus member website dedicated to the exchange of vehicle service management information. Tom got his start in the auto service industry pumping gas in the late 60’s. Tom and his wife operate Auto Centric, an import specialty shop in Grand Rapids, MI. Tom and Deb have five children including two sons and a daughter who served in the Iraq War as U.S. Marines.  He writes extensively on industry topics.  Discover Tom’s previous episodes HERE.


Scott Brown is an ASE Master Certified Automobile Technician with over three and a half decades of professional service industry experience. He and his wife own Connie & Dick’s Service Center Inc., a 57-year-old independent shop in Southern California.

With a strong focus on engine performance and electronics, Scott began collaborating with other industry professionals, online, beginning in the early 90’s. Since 1995, he has been an instrumental resource in the development of the largest online community of automotive service professionals, the International Automotive Technicians Network — iATN where he once served as company president. Additionally, he serves on the NASTF Board of Directors and is a member of the following associations: ASCCA, CAT, ETI, I-CAR, & SAE.

He is now President of Diagnostic Network and shares this plans and vision for this new diagnostician tool. Find other episodes that have featured Scott HERE.


David Roman began his automotive career in 1999, attending an automotive technical school at a local community college. While attending college, he took a part-time job at a large parts retailer, hoping to gain some experience in the field. This part-time job turned into full-time employment, as he was promoted to management, culminating in placement as a store manager in East Central Illinois.

David discovered a passion for helping people and sharing his automotive knowledge. This passion for serving others allowed him the opportunity to successfully manage multi-million dollar operations in Illinois, the St. Louis area, and eventually Kansas City. His approach to customer service garnered him several accolades and awards, something he eventually wanted to bring to automotive repair and service.

In 2012, he opened Done With Care Auto Repair in Merriam, KS, with the goal of bringing exceptional customer service, transparency, and honest work to his clients. The business was started with only some savings, no prior clients, and no history. Over the last six years, David has been able to bring a servant’s mentality to helping his clients with their automotive needs resulting in loyal customers, excellent reviews, and a solid reputation.  Find other episodes that feature David HERE.


Talking points:

  • The foundation is to learn as much as you can about your computer operating system and the power of the internet.
  • Your SMS should be utilized to the max because it will benefit your customer and your business.
  • Your job is to educate/inform the client what it takes to repair their vehicle.
  • Be sure the power of your system can communicate with your client in the form they want it.
  • Your SMS is not a booking machine that prints invoice. There is so much more to leverage with the power in the software
  • The SMS should be the hub of the business. Everything ties into it.
    • Marketing, parts, customer, inspections
  • There is a training gap between features being used.
  • Some new feature software has no training available.
  • The comprehension of software’s full capabilities is not known of understood by the shop owner.
  • Training may not be utilized when offered by the software provider.
  • You need to be trained so you can learn how to augment how your shop flow can add value to your processes.
  • Cloud-based SMS is where we are heading.
  • Security for your data and your customers
  • It is the shop owner’s responsibility to request and get the training from your SMS supplier.
  • Your hub becomes valuable is your SMS process is part of your SOPs.
    • It becomes a closed loop function.
  • With a fully functional and proper utilized SMS, you could reduce administration headcount.
    • In a small shop, you may be able to eliminate a half person
    • In a big shop, you may be able to eliminate two headcount.
  • Learning the software is shop owner’s responsibility
  • Great software is very intuitive. It operated the way you think or expect to think.
  • Some service advisors are doing too much today, and future software will do more and more for the service advisor, but you need to set the options correctly for it all to support your processes.
  • With good software, you’ll find yourself not calling support that often, especially if you learn the software, and even more if it is very intuitive.
  • We need a rallying cry to get pay by invoice capabilities for our customers built into our POS. This is what customers are looking for because they are doing this for other services.
  • From a marketing, customer perception, when you are all digital and you come across as ‘high tech’ from counter to bays. It also puts you ahead of the pack and provides a certain level of differentiation.
  • Be sure your hardware is new and up to date along with your operating system. Full usage will require a lot of bandwidth and processing power.
  • Network with other shop owners to understand their pain points and successes.
  • Use a dual monitor to expand your view of features. A huge productivity booster.
  • Microsoft ads are saying that if you have a three-year-old computer you are underpowered today.
  • Find time to re-look at your current SMS and ‘re-set’ it up as if you were just installing it.

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About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast and the pioneer of automotive aftermarket podcasts. Carm calls on his years of experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices, and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host of over 1,000 episodes, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ paths to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.

Follow the podcast on your favorite podcast listening app and always listen to learn just one thing!