6 ways technology is costing you profits

6 ways technology is costing you profits

Keeping up with technology is critical to ensure a workshop’s efficiency and profitability. Here are 6 ways tech can affect your bottom line.

It might not always feel like it in our ever-changing industry, but technology is your friend.

Get the right technology in place, and use it well, and it unlocks the door to improved workshop efficiency and increased profitability.

Unfortunately, too many of us struggle to keep up with technology — whether that’s on the workshop floor or back in the office. In Capricorn’s State of the Nation Report 2020, 29 per cent of all Members said changing technology was one of the biggest challenges facing their business. That figure was even higher for auto electricians and mobile mechanics, as you can see in the breakdown below:

FIGURE 1: Percentage of Members who say changing technology presents a challenge to their business, by business type.

Technology presents a challenge

Mechanical workshop

Auto electrician

Panel & paint

Mobile mechanic

Tyre & Susp.








Overall, changing technology was considered the number one challenge facing the auto industry itself. Little wonder then that it presents challenges in individual businesses.

Here are six ways technology could be costing your workshop profits.

If your technology is outdated or inefficient

Technology is expensive and with workshops worried about lower margins, finding the capital to invest in new technology can be difficult. But continuing to battle away with the older tech you already have — whether that’s software or hardware — could actually be costing you more than dipping into your pocket to replace it.

Studies show older technology has a negative impact on business profitability in many ways:

  • Older technology is more vulnerable to security threats, like viruses and data breaches
  • As devices age they run slower, freeze more often and require more maintenance (how often have you told a customer “sorry, the computer is running a bit slow”?)
  • Old technology does not fill customers with confidence. If you’re battling with an old, grease-stained peripheral, your customers are less likely to come back. One study found 62 per cent of customers are more likely to return if a business uses modern technology
  • If your website runs slowly or takes ages to load, your customers will almost always choose a competitor whose website works more quickly. 40 per cent of customers abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

If your customers can’t book a service easily

Can your customers easily and efficiently book a service with you? Can they do it themselves, through your website? Can they talk to you easily through a webchat feature, if they have any questions? Do you respond quickly? And does all of this tech work as well on mobile as it does on desktop?

Customers who want to book a service are basically money in the bank. It’s up to you to remove any friction in the transaction, so they not only choose you this time but keep coming back whenever they need a service or repair. Make booking as easy, efficient and pain-free as possible. Technology is your friend here.

If you don’t have the diagnostic tools you need

Diagnostic tools can be incredibly expensive and, these days, you need a lot of them: scan tools, digital multimeters, oscilloscopes — the list goes on. They’re often expensive investments and, what’s more, often need regular updating.

But if you don’t have them, you can waste a lot of time and money trying to diagnose faults.

What do Members do when they can’t figure out a fault? Well, we actually have a pretty good idea. Here’s what the State of the Nation Report 2020 found:

FIGURE 2: Percentage of Members surveyed who said they perform the nominated alternative action when they come across something they “haven’t seen or dealt with before”.

What does your workshop do when it comes across something new?

Look for information online


I usually figure it out myself


Use Capricorn Service Data


Ask another mechanic from a different workshop


Use a non-Capricorn technical info product


Ask a dealership


Automotive association’s helpline


Send the vehicle to the dealer


Tell the customer you can’t carry out the job




Where technology is too expensive to purchase, Jeff Smit, Technical Editor of The Automotive Technician, suggests Members look into buying equipment together with neighbouring workshops and splitting the costs.

If you’re not charging for diagnostics

According to State of the Nation 2020, only a third of Members always charge customers for the use of scan tools and diagnostic software, as well as the time taken for diagnostics.

Capricorn Chief Executive Officer David Fraser said it’s time to start charging for it.

“If you don’t believe me, for a year try putting $2 in a cookie jar every time you don’t charge a customer for using diagnostic software, and then count how much money you have at the end,” he said.

“While you will certainly have some money to splash on yourself at Christmas, it’s also how much more you could have earned for your business.”

Perhaps this is a good moment for a gentle reminder that Capricorn Service Data, powered by AutoData, is available to all Members at no cost.

Capricorn Service Data gives you instant access to the most comprehensive range of online service information, covering thousands of vehicles. It includes manufacturers’ service schedules, service illustrations, repair times and an estimate calculator.

Now that Capricorn Service Data has been upgraded with AutoData, Members have access to a global database of 34,000 vehicles from more than 60 manufacturers, including 96 per cent of cars on the road in Australia and 87 per cent in New Zealand. It has 92,000 diagrams, 600,000 step-by-step procedures and is regularly updated with the latest information. It’s actually an incredible resource and it’s free!

If you can’t estimate your service times accurately

How much efficiency, productivity and revenue are lost by incorrectly estimating how long a job will take? State of the Nation offers us some insights:

  • More than 60 per cent of Members say it is hard to accurately estimate service times
  • Yet only 38 per cent of Members are using software-based “time guides”
  • While over a third use software to help estimate a job, three quarters of Members don’t rely on the software only. They use it as an input and also overlay their experience before making the final call (i.e., quoting or invoicing the customer).

If you’re not using a cloud-based workshop management system

Mr Fraser said all businesses, small or large, need to invest in technology to manage the way they operate.

“This will only become more important over the next decade,” he said.

“For a small workshop, investing in a cloud-based Workshop Management System will streamline your business, improve productivity, give you back some time for yourself and your family, and allow you to stay connected to your customer.

“The cost is less than one takeaway coffee a day.”

Capricorn Chairman Mark Cooper agreed. He said investing in the right software allows Members to access correct information quickly, improving workshop efficiency and profitability.

“Customer satisfaction will also improve when their vehicle is repaired efficiently, in a single visit,” he said.

“If Members fail to keep up with technology, they will eventually go out of business. Keeping up with technology is critical for our Members’ future success.”

If technology is costing you profits, check out Capricorn Service Data and familiarise yourself with the kinds of information already available to you for FREE as part of your Capricorn membership.

This article was published 22/10/2020 and the content is current as at the date of publication.