Thank you to all our loyal users and patient new users while we addressed some scaling issues with our system, we had an influx of new signups in the run up to and during the holiday season, so thanks to everyone who is spreading the word to their friends and family over the holidays, we greatly appreciate it!
However, our systems are creaking and we are ramping up to handle the extra demand. We recently performed several hardware upgrades to our infrastructure, but we are also seeing bottlenecks in the software too now. Most notable has been the unreliable PDF generation of invoices, which has been resolved now by changing to an alternative more lightweight PDF generator which should see this running smoothly again.
We have been having ongoing issues with PayPal as they make changes to their backend systems without letting developers know! Our own investigations into the data they do currently send us has allowed us to fix up the incorrect setting of expiry dates whereby user accounts due to be renewed in 12 months were only being renewed by one month. This should no longer happen now but if you find your account expiring before time please contact customer service.
Crypto-currencies are gaining major ground and mainstream interest in the last few years. Bitcoin is familiar to most people, it’s checkered past with incidents on the deep web like Silk Road, regulatory problems and corruption form NYC state officials, a mysterious headman that little is known about, and the biggest question on anyone’s mind when it comes to money is, “can I trust this”, the answer is yes you can.
The beauty of the blockchain is that it is decentralized, there is no one central repository or point of failure; the system can neither be contained or privatized into sectors, as many financial institutions are currently attempting, and here it is, the bank will just be another bitcoin consumer, equal to you, me and everyone else.
Traditionally when money is exchanged, lets say an immigrant worker tries to wire money home, currently this is handled by a trusted third party, a bank, Western Union, PayPal, all of whom steal you blind with massive fees to simply keep track of a ledger that says one party no longer has the funds and the other party now has the transferred amount and/or services. With the blockchain, there is no middleman, the ledger is essentially maintained across the globe on millions or more ‘nodes’, these all talk to each other and update eachother as transactions happen; maintaining one irreversible global, anonymous ledger, based on computers trusting eachother on established protocols. It is also completely transparent, everyone can see the ledger, but everyone’s identity is anonymous. Why is this distributed nature so important? It cannot be taken down, think of it like torrents for money but transferring, not making copies.
Consider what money really is; just a record of who owes what to who and accounting for it. Now we all know the banks made a spectacular mess of the entire global economy, but what if there was an alternative? What if this can be done by a trusted network of computers replacing the role of corruptible middle-men stealing more than a slice.
The fact that the blockchain is trust among people directly, and that the financial structure of the network can’t be influenced by deep pockets or manipulated with traditional banking deviousness and it is really pissing off the banking industry. All their quick buck screw the public and crash the world bankers who brought us quantitative easing, sub-prime mortgages, debt swaps, CDO’s, this cannot be done on the blockchain value system, and it is doubtful bankers will ever find a way of ever corrupting the blockchain; remember technology will always outpace regulation, law and control, but the wheels of law while moving slow, eventually come down with a mighty hammer. This is normal for any new tech, the government will want in, but until bitcoin becomes a legal currency, there really is not a lot they can do once your identity is concealed and you are careful where and how you transact. Crypto-currency is taxable in many countries so seek advice from a local accountant if you are going to trade on the blockchain or invest in it, if you are unsure yourself of any legal implications.
Of course the media are highlighting the phenomenal growth in the last year in bitcoin value, and there is still time to get in on it, but like any investment it is subject to risk and market fluctuation. The chart below shows in one year it has mushroomed from $750 up to over $11,000.
The bigger benefits of the blockchain lies within using it to transact in; paying for and getting paid with bitcoin and crypto-currencies, everything happens outside the traditional walls of banks and state, the benefits of doing business this way is much more profitable with very little regulation as of yet. The eco-system that blockchain provides is far greater than the currencies that sit on top of it. Their are rich APIs available to build all kind of value transfers on top of the blockchain, you will start to see ‘blockchain apps’ in the next year or two starting to appear. Think of traditional transfer of knowledge or assets such as a deed to a house, much of this is now already possible on the blockchain and more and more applications will be added.
Everyone worries about the bubble bursting, the blockchain is smart enough to have learned form the mistakes of historical financial structures and have an auto-correcting market valuation, crazy right? Yes, crazy but true…
It is worth noting the scale of the blockchain network, it currently consumes 1.4% of global energy usage, more than some small nations, and the amount of power required to mine a single bitcoin on the network would run in the region of $3-5000 depending on where you live in the world, still profitable of course, but gives an idea of the amount of computing power going into running the network.
A final note of one weakness of the blockchain, an obstacle to it’s wider adoption in retail is limited by transaction time, the likes of Visa are setup to handle peak transactions of 25,000/s, bitcoin is more like 6/s, often taking up to 15 minutes for a transaction to be fully processed, this is a big issue, throwing more computing power at it would solve it but as you can see that is very expensive, but better hardware is being built all the time, as well as more efficient software running the network.
For those willing to believe, take a little chance, It is a a Brave New World.
We hope to be introducing blockchain payment via bitcoin in January 2018, our new payment system will allow for subscriptions to be paid for in bitcoin currency and also your auto repair shop will be able to accept bitcoin from customers as a payment option, with an easy link or barcode on invoices to send payments directly to you! Sound good?
As you were likely aware we have been working on a new release for some time now, delivering a raft of new features, product improvements and important bug fixes.
The most anticipated new feature will of course be our new itemized labor entry for invoices and estimates. With this will also come much better document handling and conversion between documents, it is now much easier to convert a repair order to invoice, or an estimate to an invoice.
The overall responsiveness and reliability of the editor has been improved too, fixing many long standing issues such as losing filled in data when changing client or navigating away from the page accidentally.
Existing features to save time such as the QUIK Service and Preset templates have been seamlessy integrated to the new invoice system, you can still use your old presets that you have saved, it will automagically take you back to the classic editor, and you can of course you start creating Presets to use with the new editor too.
The QUIK Service feature is now a lot more useful and powerful when using the new invoice editor, giving proper detailed job breakdown on both time, labor cost and parts.
There is now also support for multiple labor rates on invoices, repair orders and estimates, you can set up to three rates in settings, but can override when required too.
There are now also a list of online parts ordering services, which will easily bring you conveniently to the ordering service from within the app.
There are now many more settings available to customize the software and invoices to your needs, most notable is the support for multiple labor rates.
Please take a moment to visit Settings and adjust the new system to make it function in the way most comfortable for you and your business.
There is no doubt that the most requested feature we see is the ability to itemize labor in a fashion similar to how our parts handling works. We have been busily implementing the required background work necessary to preserve your existing data in its current format.
The new editor will feature intelligent, learning auto-completion similar to the parts items. Many other new features are being introduced, such as multiple labor rates, e.g. if you have a commercial rate and consumer rate, or simply work near the border of two municipalities.
There have been a few delays rolling this out, as it needs to be rigorously tested to ensure it integrates fully both with our own internal systems, and with third party providers such as CarFax and QuickBooks.
One thing we wish to avoid is making the editor too complex, but I think you will be happy with the new invoices produced!
We can’t say for sure when this will be fully rolled out, but it is slated for the end of July, watch this space.
We have started on our upgrades in response to the feedback from our recent user survey, the participants of which we wish to thank again for time to let us know what is right, and what is wrong!
We will be rolling out a stream of minor upgrades over the coming weeks to improve user experience and address some highlighted bugs that have crept into the last release, and also preparing for a major upgrade scheduled for this summer.
In the meantime, we have made some revisions to the current invoice editor, and quote editor, which now shows the Parts/Labor totals at the end of the editor without tax, then the tax line and then final amount, we all admit here that it does look a hell of a lot damn clearer! Seeing this from our customer’s perspective certainly helped out here. The new format editor better separates out tax, labor, parts and total while making out the invoice, the printed invoice remains unchanged with this update.
On the R.O. side, we have added the much requested Repair Order document to include a customer sign-off line, this is now present on all Repair Orders, but we plan to make this optional in Settings soon for those who may not wish to display, for the moment it is now standard on all R.O., you do not have to use it, but there will be an option to remove it for those who do not with to display signature line.
In our upcoming update to our Android app, we plan on adding ability for customer to sign-off on a repair order using finger signature on screen of device, our mobile app is currently held up due to an issue with our licence plate scanner we are also adding to upcoming update.
Many more changes are on the way, including the most requested to have multiple labor lines, this is a major upgrade to the underlying systems and will take careful planning and testing before release, but we have begun work on this and aiming for release of this much requested ability sometime this summer.
Previously, there was a limited view of past action on the client dashboard, e.g. you could only the previous booking made and the last 5 Repair Orders. Needless to say this was not giving a complete overview of client-specific data that is readily available in your auto repair software.
Our revamped dashboard will now show you complete bookings history, a complete RO history, and as always, complete invoice/transaction history, however all this data is now wrapped in neat little scrolling sections, as we were aware some clients had issues with the ‘infinite scroll’ on clients that had lots of transactions processed over time.
Other minor UI/UX tweaks have been made to how payments and certain actions are handed, using appropriate redirects depending on from what page the user takes an action, this new upgraded sub-system also prevents repeat operations, such as repeat payments, or repeat invoices due to browser reloads.
Fixed the issue of restoring a browser crash and navigating back to previous action on relaunch, these and other tunings significantly boost system efficiency and reliability, providing safeguards against common errors.
We will be adding estimates to the client dashboard screen too soon, so as always stay tuned!
We are happy to introduce a revamped payment recording on invoices, in an effort to both make this process more user friendly, and less prone to payment errors.
The most noticeable change is upon creating a payment, instead of the Transaction Complete notice, you will now be brought to that client account, with a message indicated the payment has been recorded.
Another option that has been added on user request, is to record payments made by bank transfer, this option is now available as a payment type.
By far the biggest source of customer support requests, are transactions gone wrong. In an endeavour to simplify this, we have added the facility to reverse payments, which will be removed from transactions, and the amount credited back to the invoice. In a case where it really gets messed up, you can also delete the invoice, which will clear all associated transactions. Please exercise caution with these new options, they cannot be undone once deleted.
Audit Trail This revised system is due to unprecedented levels of customer enquiries with payments that were recorded in error, however while the ability to do so is now available, we will be refining the system so that reversed transactions are still present in the system, but balanced by a counter transaction that will be invisible on the UI.
Further updates will include proper refund handling and more accurate reversal tracking with an optional note on reason for reversal.
Also, we have improved the invoice selector to properly update the invoice amount and payment amount when selecting the invoice you wish to pay.
For our current users, most of these are welcome changes and implemented upon suggestion, so as always we hope this speeds up your day makes life easier for you.
Many requests from customers have been to store historical mileage data on invoices. This was previously managed by the vehicle log, and did not maintain a historical mileage record on individual invoices. This has now been changed so that all mileage information is now stored per invoice individually at the time of invoice creation.
We will be adding this to quotes and repair orders soon also.
Another aspect of our auto repair software we are looking at giving an overhaul is our inventory system, which is getting a review also, and we will be introducing a more feature rich tracking of cost of sales and profits on parts, other features we are considering here are part purchase dates. As always please get in touch with any suggestions you may have to improve the experience!
Auto Repair Bill has many subtle, powerful features that are often easy to overlook. Most features in our software are interconnected and feed into each other in a natural flow, this may not be obvious just by casually using or looking at the app.
In this post we intend to demystify and debunk some of the inner workings, showing you how to get to maximise productivity and save time on data entry.
For maximum efficiency, set your labor rate. Use the QUIK Service for vehicles requiring scheduled maintenance, add the desired items to the repair order, then make any adjustments you need in the RO editor, when the job is finished, the One Click invoice button will produce a fully costed and prepared invoice to give to your customer.
1) Streamlined, Every repair document can be converted into an invoice with one click
Below you will see the Repair Orders screen, note the highlighted icon, this will instantly convert the select repair order to a chargeable invoice with one click, auto calculating the total labor and adding parts for you to preview and edit before saving. Labor line items from a repair order will be formatted to the labor field on the invoice, with a total calculated.
You can do exactly the same in our auto repair software with an Estimate, with one click invoice creation to convert a quote to an invoice.
2) Set your labor rate in settings
Setting your labor rate in Settings allows Repair Order and invoices to calculate labor costs based on time involved on a job, this particularly speeds up RO creation.
3) One click QUIK Service for Invoices and Repair Orders
The QUIK service feature is a very simple way to create an RO or Invoice for a vehicle by entering VIN, mileage, date since last service, and you will be presented with a list of scheduled maintenance items from manufacturer, you can opt to chose which items you wish to add to your document.