The most important aspect of any repair business is having reliable software for tracking your repairs. This is something you should implement and get right from the very start of you new repair business because being organised and efficient will mean you can spend your very valuable time on other aspects of your business such as completing repairs (which actually is the source of most of your income) plus frees you to spend more time promoting your business.
Why Use Repair Tracking Software when I can just pen and paper or excel?
ha, good question? Consider this;
Paper Based Repair Sheets:
You have just finished a couple of iPhone 5 screen repairs. You use paper receipts, pre-printed forms, which you hand write your notes on for each customer repair. Takes about 5 mins to write your notes and create the invoice just as a customer comes through the door.
Its 3pm, local school has just finished for the day, Customer comes in, asks you questions about the repair you did for them three weeks ago because they are experiencing the same issue again and want to bring it back under warranty. You dig through your paperwork looking for your customer’s repair notes (you do keep notes don’t you??).
Another customer comes in with their noisy kids they just picked up from school to get an iPad repaired. You give them a pre-printed form to complete – name, address etc. A few mins later you find your notes written on the first customer repair sheet, notes says, you re-installed operating system on their laptop, nothing else. You tell them to bring it back in so you can take a look.
Phone rings, customer asks “is my repair ready yet”.. you look on your workbench, not there. You look in your collections area for their repair, not there. You have a customer waiting for you so you offer to call back your customer in a few minutes. Phone rings again, but this time you leave it ringing while you serve the customer with the form they just completed and they hand you their broken iPad.
Customer comes in to collect their iPhone 5 you just completed you hand it back to them and get paid. You then sit down to complete the other iPhone 5 which has been pending for over 2 hours. Job completed but then the last customer comes back in with their newly fixed iPhone 5 they just collected showing you pictures of kids – not theirs, a strangers kids! She’s not happy. Threatening to go to the local news because you gave her the wrong phone and potentially could have given her phone to a complete stranger! (fortunately, you settle her down and she leaves calm and relatively happy her broken phone is working again!). You were so busy to realise you accidentally switched paperwork when you were looking for the missing laptop. Easy mistake as both iPhones look identical.
Too tired to to clean your workbench and not enough time to have lunch or a coffee break; you head home, spend a few hours creating some facebook ads before going to bed. Busy, tiring day.
Next day, angry customer on the phone – “you never phoned me back like your promised”, oops, you forgot because it got quite manic for a few mins. You still cannot find the repair, you look everywhere. Damn, its lost. One last look on collections… phew, found it on your collections shelf inside a black laptop bag. Customer complains about the service and that no-one contacted her about her repair being ready to collect or called her back. She hangs up unhappy….
Same Scenario as above but this time using Tracking Software:
You have just finished a couple of iPhone 5 screen repairs. Two clicks of a mouse and you have completed your repair notes, invoiced both customers and they just got a SMS telling them to come and get their iPhones.
Grab a coffee. Take a 5 min break…
Its 3pm, local school has just finished for the day, Customer comes in, asks you questions about the repair you did for them three weeks ago because they are experiencing the same issue again and want to bring it back under warranty. You look up their repair on your tracking software and find you re-installed Operating system due to virus infection and ransomware virus. You explain if she has another virus infection its not a warranty job, they agree its a virus also and says will pop it back in next week.
Then you grab a bite to eat…
Another customer comes in with their noisy kids they just picked up from school to get an iPad repaired. They have been in before, you quickly find them on your repair tracking software, book their iPad in for repair and tell them they will get a SMS on completion. They leave. Takes just a few mins from the moment they walked through the door to leaving.
You get some time to call some customers to remind them their AV is about to expire and to come back for renewal and their annual service (repeat income!).
Customer comes in, thanks you for sending them a text message and email saying their repair is ready (you didn’t, it was automatic!). You quickly find the repair in your tracking software which says its on the completions shelf booked in with a laptop bag and power supply. You glance over at your collections area and can see a white label on the laptop bag with their name on (this was automatically printed via your repair tracking software). Customer pays and leaves happy.
You run a quick facebook ad for “Same Day iPhone Repairs” and reply to a few facebook messages. Next you clean your workbench ready for tomorrow, call your wife and say you’ll be home for shortly.
Phone rings again, you answer, it’s a repair enquiry. Do you repair desktop computers? “Yes, please drop it in”. It turns out they are a local business, with 10+ computers looking for upgrades.
Customer comes in to collect their iPhone 5 you just completed. You have two identical iPhone 5 devices so you simply compare the serial number to the serial in your repair tracking software, you hand it back to them, get paid then sit down to have a drink.
Go home and relax 🙂
What should Good Repair Tracking Software offer
- Time Saving – Automations and canned messages will ensure you spend less time creating repair notes. If you find yourself typing the same notes over and over then it’s time to look to automate this!
- Invoicing – Quick and easy invoice creation, quotes and linked to repair tickets. You need to get paid!
- Repair Tracking – Important for customers and you to track repairs i.e. awaiting parts, awaiting approval, completed, new etc. Means you can follow up on repairs that are slowing things down (parts not received etc).
- Part Tracking – Important to ensure parts you order are allocated to the repairs on delivery. Returns for faulty parts tracking.
- Automatic Customer Updates – Less time customers will call you “is my repair ready yet”. Website checks, SMS and email updates.
- Customer CRM – ALWAYS get as much customer contact info as possible. i.e. email, mobile/cell number, address, secondary contact details. This is very important. Firstly, if you cannot reach your customer on one number, you have email/sms as backup. Remember, repairs sitting on your shelves waiting collection is no good for your cash flow. Secondly and importantly, treat customer information as pots of gold. Use it for re-marketing at a later date – repeat customers will be the lifeblood of your business.
- Point Of Sale – Payments received for both repairs and shop sales. Nice to have this in a single application.
- Reports / Stats / Live Data – Stay on top of your business with stats and reports. Some software even gives you a live data board for your staff to see how many repairs have been completed / warranty returns / sales etc. Perfect for setting targets.
- Secure – You are storing your customers name, addresses, and personal and sensitive information such as passwords, email addresses and more. Its important you look after your customers data. See below: Software Security.
Your repair tracking software will be storing your customer information. Not, just your personal info, but the personal information for EVERY customer who has ever had a repair or enquiry in your shop. Its important you know where their data resides, and keep it safe and secure.
Paper Based Records: Simply storing your customers emails and passwords on a sheet of paper is not good enough! This is very poor. Simply because if you choose to keep records of the repair you may not be shredding their personal details. Having it written down in plain sight is poor and leaves your customers vulnerable.
Excel Records: This is a bit better than paper based records. Passwords and emails are still stored as plain text. You could create a password to lock the spreadsheet but this is relatively easy to hack and once a copy of the spreadsheet has been obtained, its a matter of a hour or two before your customer’s data has been breached.
Online Records: This is a bit better than paper/excel records. It the company is reputable, they should be encrypting the data that passed through the server using SSL, plus actually encrypting passwords and sensitive data on the server. However, with security breaches becoming commonplace and big companies like Sony (November 2014) and Talk Talk (twice, 2014 and 2015) and in 2016 / 2017 many high profile UK companies such as Three, Wonga, Sports Direct, Tesco and globally JP Morgan and billion user accounts at Yahoo were hacked!
So what is the answer to security?
There is no clear answer. Two things are for sure, DO NOT USE PAPER OR EXCEL based records! Do you, or do you not store your data online? Thats a decision you need to make. My own personal preference is to store my customer’s data on my own premises or my own controlled servers leaving me 100% certain I know where the data is and only I can access it plus ensuring passwords are encrypted on the server.
Tracking Software I have used in the past and what I recommend?
I have tried many systems over the last 10 years. I started off using CommitCRM – this is great software, perfect for IT professionals as it offers contracts tracking of hours, timers, invoicing. Its a windows application and unlike all the web based solutions available, this differs because your data is YOUR data, stored locally on your own PC or even as SQL Server database own local network.
The drawbacks of this software is that it was general purpose for the IT industry. for example, sometimes I would forget to write in the notes that the customer left a “Laptop Power Supply” or “External drive” when booking in a repair. As all laptop PSUs look identical, its easy to get misplaced! This would sometimes involve an awkward 5 mins when customer insists they dropped their PSU off, we insist it was not dropped off, only to find it elsewhere! CommitCRM was still a bit too complicated to use for a computer repair shop.
I also used Easify, Point Of Sale Software which is excellent software. Easy to use. However, not linking to my tracking software difficult to track which repairs are collected and paid or which ones are collected and not paid (some customers pay 30 days later – see Getting Paid).
I looked at some online tracking tools… but I was put off because I didn’t want my data to be on a server off-premises located out of my own control.
So I need an ultimate tracking tool, taking the best features of CommitCRM, Easify POS and some of the online tracking tools I found. With a 2nd repair shop on the horizon and career in programming and software development before quitting and starting my first repair shop, I will create it myself and I imaginatively called it Computer Repair Shop Software!
I needed something that I could use at more than one shop sharing the same information, but secure and hosted on my own servers, must be easy to use, fast to book in repairs and create tickets. Must also link POS transactions to repair tickets so I know when jobs were paid and collected (and the ones which are not!).
Computer Repair Shop (CRS) Software was born!
(warning: shameless plug)
CRS has been actively developed for the last 6 years. Started as a basic tracking tool, before opening up the software to computer shops globally, it has a global user base with features and improvements completed based on feedback from CRS users. CRS has a FREE edition, perfect for start-ups and new computer repair businesses looking for some amazing tracking software without big financial commitment. Check out the features on offer here.
Free Edition supports ticket tracking for 20 repairs per month for a single user on a single PC workstation.
Free 30 days Trial unlocks ALL features, multiple users. unlimited PC workstations.