Garrett Ming got into the software business four years ago, after he spent 27 years in dealership fixed operations. The main reason for his career switch, he says, was the frustration he felt as service advisers couldn't accurately tell customers when they could expect to pick up their vehicles.
"Every customer asks the same thing: How long will it take?" Ming told Fixed Ops Journal.
The company Ming founded, KABI, of Bakersfield, Calif., offers software products called WorksTiming and ShopLoader. They are designed to organize and schedule service work, enabling service departments to set promise times more precisely.
WorksTiming, which costs a dealership $600 a month, is designed to focus exclusively on routine maintenance such as oil changes and other quick service.
That work generally doesn't require technicians to diagnose such symptoms as a "check engine" light or an electrical problem. As a result, Ming says, the length of the job is usually predictable.
The WorksTiming software offers a digital display that shows where the vehicle is in line. It also identifies the technician assigned to a job.
A countdown clock predicts how soon the vehicle will be ready. At their expense, dealerships can install a screen in the service lounge that displays the information.
Service customers who download a free app can get the display on their cellphones, along with text-message updates.