Earlier in the year, PMF was invited to Carbits in Birmingham to investigate how Automotive Automation’s software has helped the company to develop and prosper.
It is essential that motor factor owners and directors can ensure that the software that they implement is absolutely right for their business. Neil Singh is the owner of Carbits, a single branch motor factor that has been servicing Birmingham for over 40 years. Despite its long history, the company has not been afraid to adapt to the modern world, and Neil has placed his trust in Automotive Automation (AutoMM), a company that currently offers two software platforms: Vision Mobile and Vision TMA. Neil uses both of these platforms, and estimates that he is probably “one of the most frequent users” of AutoMM’s technology.
What really makes Carbits tick is AutoMM’s software offering. Describing the applications as “really useful”, Neil explained that they were able to give him “instant access to data on his mobile phone” – even when he’s out on the road – as well as enable him to give key members of staff, such as his purchasing manager, access to information that they need to fulfil their roles.
Integrating with not only each other, but with MAM Autopart as well, Vision Mobile and Vision TMA appear to be making the management of motor factors a far simpler task. For example, users can access important data, such as who’s on-site and who’s away on holiday, at the click of a button. According to Neil, “The TMA system allows me to keep track of my staff, and I can easily check that I’ve got a full turn out each morning just by checking my phone. It also shows upcoming holidays that have been booked and keeps track of sick days, which has saved me a headache when it comes to payroll. Essentially, the TMA system shows me who’s on duty and who isn’t.”
A sneak peek
Going through his own system, Neil demonstrated some of the perks of AutoMM’s software. “It gives me an overall view of the business,” he explained. “From the home screen, I can look at suppliers and see which of their products are selling well. Similarly, when my purchasing manager goes to meet these suppliers, he can pull out this data to easily identify which products he wants to discuss. What works well is that the data can be compiled on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.”
This isn’t the default Vision Mobile format, however; it is tailored to suit Neil’s needs. Luke Bettles, AutoMM’s Managing Director, commented, “This is something that Neil asked for because he prefers this view. We’re always open to feedback. If someone gives us a suggestion, we can look at getting it implemented to suit their style. With the software, Neil can react quickly to any issue that he comes across. We try to keep things simple; nobody’s going to analyse their business from their mobile phone, and we know that, but it’s not meant to be a deep analysis of the business, it’s a very comprehensive, live overview of critical information.”
“What the app allows me to do is to look at staff performance,” Neil added. “The software gives me a breakdown of sales, credits and net margin. In essence, it provides me with essential management information. Using the app makes it easier for me to motivate my staff to hit their targets. It allows me to go up to my staff, show them their data (e.g. sales made, previous sales) and their targets, and ask them what I can do to help them reach their targets – it’s constructive.”
Neil can access the data from a variety of applications; he can log into the system on his mobile phone and his computer, and he is able to transmit data onto a big screen that is situated in the top corner of his office. The heart of the software – the control panel – combines both versions of AutoMM’s offering, and can also be tailored to fit the needs of the user. In Neil’s case, he requested his top customer sales over the last three months, and even though this is not something that would necessarily be used by a business with multiple branches, it is essential data for single branch factors.
According to Luke, data is something that AutoMM must deal with very carefully. “When we first started doing this, the first thing that we did was get MAM down to look at it. The company wanted to make sure that what we were providing was secure, so SSL247, one of Europe’s biggest security-penetrating testing companies, did a security audit on our platform, which we passed. MAM were very positive; they’ve been fantastic at helping us to get set up.”
So, from Neil’s perspective, how has the software improved his ability to run his business? He commented, “It’s eased my problem; I don’t have to be physically in the business day-to-day. Pre-AutoMM, it took far more time to access the relevant data. For me, it’s essential that I can easily access what I need for the business.”
Not every customer operates like Neil, however, and Luke was keen to stress the flexibility of the software: “We have customers that seem to hardly use the platform, especially in comparison to Neil. However, they use mobile push notifications, which can be scheduled to inform the user of the information that they need at a specific time. Customers such as these tend to be a part of a large team, and so they only require certain information.”
When asked if the platforms had helped Neil’s business, the answer was a resounding “Oh yes!” Neil added, “With the software, it’s a move away from the traditional way of running a factor. I can go to customer and supplier meetings with confidence because I have all of this information to hand, and the data is so much easier to interpret. We needed something more critical, and now we have it.”
In terms of how Luke and AutoMM’s Technical Director, Matthew Wood, support their customers, Neil was, once again, extremely complimentary: “They’ve supported me through any issues. We’re always in contact, and they get back to me straight away.”
With the visit coming to an end, conversation moved on to the work that the aftermarket has to do to keep up with advances in technology, and Luke commented: “This industry doesn’t seem to have moved forward as quickly as other industries.” This sentiment was shared by Neil, but he emphasised that despite the industry’s technological weaknesses, Vision Mobile and Vision TMA have helped him to “move with the times”.
To sign off, Neil wanted to stress just how positive his experience with AutoMM’s software has been: “I guarantee that it will improve your business; it will grow it, make it more efficient, and help you find the flaws that exist throughout it.”