Accelerated software development with B3 – Steve’s Auto-Body Shop

Steve, the owner of a local auto-body shop chain is looking to digitize his operation, track his mechanics’ productivity, and analyze profitability of various types of repair work.  He wants to enhance the customer experience using data captured about a customer’s vehicle and their specific repair order in progress. 

Steve is looking to:

  • Manage his employees work schedule
  • Go paperless on his processes
  • Capture data on certain types of repair work, vehicles, and customer segments for marketing.
  • Communicate more closely with his customer during and after repair work is done.

Steve’s unique value proposition is closely connected with the overall customer experience.  Enhancing this experience is paramount to getting ahead of the competition.  A few years ago, Steve asked a few software developers to estimate accomplishing his vision.  The vision included management reports, back office functions, technician repair order tracking, and a cross-platform native mobile app for customers.   Even though the estimates varied quite a bit, they all seemed pretty high for the ROI he was looking for.   Also, Steve didn’t know how the customers would react to his ideas.

Steve learned of a new innovative custom software solution that could address his needs.  Steve could present customers and technicians with fully working prototypes and get instant feedback on his ideas.  

First, a fully functional prototype application was made by combining the following pre-existing software components:

  • Service Task Fulfillment — Breaks down labor tasks on a repair order and tracks costs, completion, and service details.
  • Vehicle Damage Imaging — Can track images of the vehicle before and after service.
  • Communication — Sends customer emails or text messages when their vehicle is ready or if it has an additional problem.
  • Document Builder — Company branded estimates and receipts are generated and emailed to customers via the Communication component.
  • Timesheet — Workers submit their time and attendance and connect time worked to specific Service Tasks.

Secondly, Steve’s requirement for customer record management, additional analytics and parts of the customer app needed to be built from scratch.  While those were being built, several choice customers and technicians had a chance to provide feedback on Steve’s idea for providing a more pleasant customer experience. 

Based on feedback, several customers thought it would be nice if estimates showed pricing options for OEM versus aftermarket parts.  Service Task Fulfillment would need an additional customization to track the customer’s preference and ensure the correct parts were used in the actual repair work.  Since each of the components are designed for extensibility, the change was made quickly.

In the end, a large part of the solution was based on pre-existing software components amended with customizations and completely custom components.  The total solution was quicker and less expensive to develop.  Steve even ran a few extra feedback cycles with his customers to get the app experience just right. 

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