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Client Stories - Pedders Suspension

Wild & Wolf

Revving their engines for change

Pedder’s Suspension and Brakes began in 1950 by specialising in the servicing of shock absorbers to now developing, manufacturing, distributing and installing their own products in their stores. Today operating in over 120 locations Australia wide and swiftly growing. As experts in their field, Pedders desired to continually arm their staff with the right tools to efficiently service their customers. Even though each franchise store functions as a separate business, they are a very active community who frequently share their experience and expertise. From a customer point of view, every Pedders store offers the same outstanding service and having one technology platform was key to supporting this.

The Pronto Woven project focussed on integrating front-end processes such as bookings with back office functionality ensures all staff work one integrated platform, rather than switching between multiple applications. This streamlined operational processes with technicians for example able to record their observations and recommendations online while vehicle assessments (brakes, steering and suspension checks) are completed. While this also ensured that information is available to customers with accuracy & speed.

Assessing under the hood

Pedders growth strategy is focused on increasing the number of franchises and encourage their trade accounts in becoming their own franchised stores. While they often have deep automotive expertise, the demands of running a business can be challenging. Providing potential franchisors with a ready to go and easy to use business management system provided a competitive edge in closing more deals.

Simon Richardson, Senior Executive of technology and systems at Pedders said “Our former solution was partially integrated to our ERP and removing that ERP was going to leave our job card system (store based vehicle and customer workflow management) standing by itself. We went to market for a new ERP as we wanted to ensure that our workshop mechanical management system and customer management system (Electrical Job Card) was fully integrated to our ERP. Though there was nothing specifically wrong with our past platform, we were unable to invest in that platform and introduced a lot of new functions to improve our workflow.”

Historically, Pedders maintained a mixture of an online and offline systems which were very manual and paper based, especially for their technicians completing the vehicle assessments. This resulted in a lack of visibility, clarity and accessibility of their business status, inventory and customers globally.

While their head office needed to understand the overall picture of all franchises, each franchisee desired to have more access to insights about their business, customer’s history and inventory. Without the facility to collect insights and trace a customer’s history across appointments and franchises, it was difficult for Pedder’s to follow up on customer interactions to generate leads.

Our previous system was very poor at customer communication and consisted of very little functionality to enable it. It realistically only sent out an SMS reminder after six months for the next check-up. There was nothing to encourage customer communication and no return path or follow up for those SMS. Our customers were even unable to book an appointment online.” Said Mr Richardson

Being in the automotive industry, Pedders deal with over a 1000 car models every day, each involving hundreds of different parts which are by various manufacturers and dealers. Instant easy access to this information is vital when servicing their customer’s vehicles. Technicians also required a location to easily add any new information or knowledge they may come across in their everyday work. This includes new methods of completing their work, critical safety warnings and tricks of the trade.

Robust solution of the many parts

Pronto Woven identified the need for robust software that would combine Pedder’s processes and software systems, all into one simple interface.

This included:

  • Updated workflows to provide consistency of data with one source of truth Pronto Software’s ERP, Pronto Xi. This allows real-time inventory updates to ensure information gets to the right place at the right time.
  • Implement a real-time automatic integration with PartsDB that stores and pulls through vehicle product relationship data such as models, parts, registration and VIN no.
  • A user experience which will make it easy and intuitive for technicians to input the right data when completing vehicle checks. This will enable them to share their knowledge and findings with fellow colleges and customers.
  • A central CRM to maintain customer information in one central place for the entire company to create a historical database between franchises

The main focus in designing the platform was understanding and mapping out the day to day workflows for each key stakeholder (store manager, franchisee owner and technician). The design needed to continue supporting their current workflow but also help improve these processes. This included creating a tablet first design to allow the technicians to be completely mobile while completing their vehicle check.

Equipping our technicians with hardened Android tablets has been a major transformation that our mechanics (technicians) are loving. They have been further empowered through it's efficient process and intuitive designed system. With a quick 10 minute walk through, the technicians are ready to go without requiring any further training or documentation. They also have increased visibility of what's going on as well as input and more communication to the customer. As a result, we received plenty of excited feedback even from our franchises of additional future features and we have already completed the first round of continuous improvement which we will continue to invest in for a long time to come.” Said Mr Richardson

A key complexity in achieving this outcome was the requirement of one company-wide data set to remain as the central source of truth so head office can view the overview of the company. However, the information also needed to be treated as separate when it came to each individual franchise such as when showing store specific pricing, inventory levels and so forth.

Their new digital platform now enables the following functionality:

  • Online Booking which automatically sends a notification of the booking to selected store
  • Calendar smarts to show availability of times for each technician and their work load for no overlap of appointments
  • Check in of vehicle via their customer’s name or number plate and can view their history
  • Creating an easy checklist for the technicians when completing a suspension, brake and steering check. Technicians can record their prime concerns and failed items.
  • Collection of evidence such as videos and images of the pre-state of the car.
  • Comments section so technicians can record all their observations and expertise.
  • View and add all related vehicle parts and prices categories (cost, RRP and customer price) to the estimate for the customer.
  • Automatic quote regeneration for customer to review based on the previously created checklist.
  • SMS messaging to communicate and notify customers of their estimates, when to pick up the car or are due a safety check.
  • Record all customer history and allow other stores to view this history without individual store’s prices and confidential info.

Though the core of the product reflects our previous product, we've taken opportunities to develop a whole lot of new features and reporting capability that we didn’t previously have. All these functions are integrated such as capturing better quality data by ensuring we received field level validation, SMS messaging and attaching vehicle images while it’s been worked on. As well as email communications, estimates and quotations between ourselves and the customer.” Said Mr Richardson

Zooming ahead in the race

The solution has now been rolled out across the business and so far training has been provided to all Pedders’ owned stores across the country. They now have over 20 stores operating on the Workshop iQ, with a further 30 expected by the end of CY21 and plans to migrate an additional 40+ during CY22.

We have now a significant amount of customer communication functionality. With a click of a button, we can SMS or email customers a report, estimates and even sign things. Customers can receive booking, vehicle pickup and service reminders. Our teams have an online portal where they can maintain their vehicles and view customer info, their current jobs, the past jobs as well as carry the warranty details. This is a significant improvement on what we had in the past.” Said Mr Richardson

In addition to the company stores, Pedders have implemented Workshop iQ to 10 of their franchised stores with many more to follow.

The feedback from franchisees has been very positive. It is a major change in their business, perhaps one of the largest they are likely to make. Therefore, we designed a 14-week training, mentoring and critical support program so once launched, they have all skills required. This enabled many to successfully go live with very little interruption to their ongoing business. In fact, our first franchisee to go live had the second-best month on record in their very first month from implementation and several other have already had some of their best weeks on record.” continued Mr Richardson.

Pedder’s new platform has enabled them to better capture data to enhance their customer communications including:

  • Customer data base for the history of past vehicles and jobs/assessments to be able to action any follow up interactions
  • Customer notifications via sms of booking reminders, services and also detailed quote estimate breakdowns so customers can gain a comprehensive view of their vehicle assessment.
  • Parts IQ to show customers accurate representation of the relevant vehicle parts which can also be pulled into a digital catalogue to send out to customers and trade accounts.

The new technology is a great step to help Pedders build an increased relationship with their customers from those valued insights.

One of the other big things that we haven't yet realised because we're still finalising these components of the software is the additional revenue we can capture through previously 'lost' sales. The way the system is now capturing data should make it quite easy for store owners and store managers obtain more detailed reporting for customer mining. This should mean that the customers feel we're more attentive because we're consistently following up.” Continued Mr Richardson