Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been innovating countless aspects of our day-to-day life for years—from apps that can determine the best route based on the current speed of traffic to Facebook’s algorithm that personalizes your newsfeed to the spam filters of your email. Now, AI is innovating the day-to-day of independent repair shops by helping them run their businesses more effectively.
Shop4D, a technology company founded in 2018 by the founders of Auto Profit Masters and the RPM ToolKit, has launched a new cloud-based shop management system that integrates every aspect of the repair into a single tool. The system’s AI then learns from every inspection, advisement and communication and proactively shows the owner how to run the shop more efficiently.
The need for AI in auto repair presented itself when the creators of Shop4D, David Rogers and Terry Keller, realized that the most difficult aspect of turning a struggling repair shop around is getting the owner and staff to truly act on the metrics of the business. AI can also help with another daunting challenge for shops—the technician shortage. Rogers explains, “There are less technicians coming into the industry, so we had to come up with a way to make the entire repair process much faster and more efficient—even the diagnostics—so that a shop can move those vehicles through faster while relying more on facts and data.
The process of Shop4D looks like this: When a vehicle arrives at the shop, the shop’s tablet or cell phone camera reads the VIN and starts the check-in process. By the time the vehicle is dispatched, the technician already has access to recall and TSB information, and the AI is already working to diagnose the vehicle. As the tech is doing an inspection, Shop4D will source parts and begin to build the invoice. You may be wondering where the vehicle-specific information is sourced—Shop4D has partnered with Epicor to provide integrated parts and labor time lookup, service intervals and more.
Aside from vehicle inspections and parts ordering, AI is also incorporated into the shop’s point of sale, customer communication and marketing, credit card processing, and management and measurement.
The true innovativeness of AI lies in its ability to constantly learn and fine tune the data processing as more information is added. Shop4D takes that ability of AI and expands it exponentially—once a shop has switched to Shop4D on the shop’s existing devices, they’re connected to an AI that is constantly learning from each shop on the system. Every repair and interaction thus makes the program smarter for all businesses connected to it.
Chris Morgan, manager of Keller Bros. Auto Repair in Littleton, Colo., has implemented the technology in his shop and has seen improvements for the business and his employees. He shares, “Every team member—myself, the techs, the service writers—has more time to focus on their primary job because they are spending less time diagnosing a problem, doing research or dealing with busy work. With nearly every step automated from the moment a car comes into the shop, we have more time to focus on providing excellent customer service and fixing the vehicle, so we’re able to bill more hours and spend more time growing our customer base.”
As this system shows, AI could provide independent repair shops the edge they need to compete with larger repair centers and dealerships. One thing is certain: the shop of the future is no longer an idea in our imagination—it’s here.
To learn more about Shop4D, visit www.shop4d.com