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eStar Mercedes-Benz Truck and Van Aftersales

Within two weeks we’d saved 6,000 pieces of paper from Mercedes diagnosis system Xentry alone, and that is huge.

Process Improvement Manager

eStar is an approved Mercedes-Benz dealer, with five sites in the North West and North Wales. Implementing mstore has reduced the number of pieces of paper in each service job pack from 30 to two, with plans afoot to reduce to zero. Working with digital files has delivered flexibility, cost savings, better cash flow, improved productivity in the workshop and back office teams, and even enabled remote working through the Covid 19 lockdown.

eStar (formerly Roanza) is bucking the trend in the commercial vehicle and truck retail sector by embracing paperless ways of working and rolling out a new digitised job pack system across the group to introduce improvements to aftersales operations.

Former Process Improvement Manager James Reed oversaw the initial 2020 installation, taking a pragmatic approach by rolling out mstore one site at a time, and creating champions from initial users. “The two sites we’ve got it in at are dead happy with it. The first week when I go out to site is a bit painful,” he explained. “First few days, no one wants to know. The second week, people are loving it. Once people start realising how useful it is to them, my job becomes really easy. People come to me and tell me ideas. Once they flip and decide this is really going to benefit them, I could more or less just go home.”

Interviewed during the Covid-19 lockdown when much of the implementation was underway, James confirmed, “My view is, when we do fully reopen, we’ll be working a lot better because we’ll be working digitally in mstore.” Read the Covid19 news article here.

Becoming more flexible and efficient

The mstore system has opened the door for more flexible and remote working through the lockdown and beyond. “We could say to people if you need to be home on a Thursday because there’s no after school club, we know that because it’s digital, you can now work effectively from home as if you were sat in the office.”

 “The benefit of mstore is massive; it allows us to follow the same process across all sites. Having people utilise the same tool means that even if they really try to do it differently, they can’t.”

“Secondly, let’s say we have some staff absence. In that past that was a problem. With mstore we’re going to give them the permissions in mstore which is easy to do, and just have them cover each other.”

"So a job comes into the back office queue and whoever you are, wherever you are, you just process it and invoice it as quickly as you possibly can.”

Single sign on is important for staff. “When I told them mstore knows your password from your computer, that was a point scored,” James shared. “Because it’s digital, people see that if they ever need to get the history of a vehicle, it’ll all be on the computer.

Making savings

“For Mercedes Benz audit purposes you had to print everything that you’re doing to prove that you’d done it. They can now go digitally straight into mstore which saves paper. Within two weeks at the first site we’d saved 6,000 pieces of paper from Mercedes' diagnosis system Xentry alone, and that is huge. The Xentry prints is a massive one, I can’t overstate that, pulling the report directly from the diagnosis machine. As soon as you told me you could do that, I was in! I knew how big an issue that is.”

James explained how technicians in other Mercedes' dealerships save reports from devices onto a memory stick. “I didn’t want to do that because in my opinion, they’re kidding themselves that they’ve gone digital. All they’ve done is replace one type of work with another type of work. It’s not that much more efficient.”

Time is also saved in the workshop “There’s also a huge frustration with printers; technicians used to get so wound up waiting for the printer to print. There might be two or three people printing at once, you might get there and the person in front has picked up the print. The chap at the far end of the workshop walks all the way over to the printer. Now there’s none of that, so that’s a big benefit.”

Audit readiness and visibility

Missing job packs plague aftersales teams. “Finding job cards in people’s drawers genuinely happens. You’re passing bits of paper around and they get lost. We’ve had staff leave, and we’ve gone into their drawers and there’s a carrier bag full of old jobs in their bottom drawer. We won’t have that problem anymore because it’s impossible to have that with mstore. You can’t put a cost on that, but that’s definitely a thing that is happening.”

 “From an audit perspective, we had to run into the filing and go through loads of boxes, look through them, and dig them out. When we get audited from jobs with mstore onwards, it takes us about 30 seconds to find them. Normally we’d have to print them off and give them to the auditor. Now we can give them a log into mstore and let them go have a look themselves. We could give them access to audit remotely.”

mstore also brings greater visibility and control “Site managers say they love it because they can see what’s going on and can chase people.”

“When a job has been through our workshop, the workshop controller signs it off to confirm he’s happy that he’s got the right paperwork, the test sheets and diagnostic receipts, all the stuff that he needs. mstore then sends this to the parts' queue to check and do a final sign off that parts have been used and taken before it goes off to be invoiced, so it should allow us to keep our stock in order. It’s a small improvement, but multiplied by eight sites, you might actually pay for the running costs of mstore with the money saved there.

 “It’s reassuring for my boss who’s signed off on the cost when I can tell him that with mstore this is happening. He can sign in, see things moving, he can click into the odd job, see that each job was invoiced within two or three days and he’s satisfied. He’s the Group Aftersales Manager, he could never do that before.  We could never justify a director driving to a site and picking up a few jobs at random and having a look at them.”

“We’ve built into our system 'return reasons'. If there’s a problem with a job, the administrator selects a reason from a list such as 'technician write up no good' and it sends it back to the workshop controller who corrects that error. Every time we send a job back to someone, it takes extra time for someone to look into it and it delays it from being processed."

“Once the roll out’s finished, I’m going to make it my job to analyse that data, spot our biggest problem, correct that, check the next month. So that report is genuinely useful because we will use that to improve our efficiency. We’ll monitor those return reasons and get better at it.”

Improving cash flow

“Managing through put is important. If we don’t process things quickly enough, we’re effectively giving people extra credit as it’s always from date of invoice. A big, big thing for us is keeping that work in progress down as low as possible, processing things as soon as possible, getting it from that workshop to the invoicer, invoiced off and billed, so then we can get the cash in a month’s time. If not, the cash flow slows down.”

“With the visibility in mstore we can now stamp out leaving everything to the last three days of the month which means that all of those invoices don’t come of age so we can start asking for payment. mstore allows us to be really on it.

“We can look at how long it’s taken to create a job 'til invoice date in mstore. With bits of paper you can’t really see that. In my napkin maths I worked it out that the amount we save on paper and printing will pay for the annual running costs and licences as well.”

Why mstore?

The scalability of mstore is definitely useful because we would probably prefer one system if we’re going to go digital in all areas. We’re installing mstore in aftersales at the minute. In 18 months or so we’ll probably have the truck and van sales on mstore too.”

 “When you guys started talking about automatic indexing I got very interested. I realised the less that staff actually had to do, the better it will work. We just press print in Kerridge and it just picks up the document and sends it to the job pack in mstore automatically. You guys were quite forward thinking.”

“I wanted to give something to our staff that actually did the job for them without them having to worry about it. With mstore, they just press print, and it does it for them with no potential for people making mistakes with the keying in. So that’s the reason I went for you. You were talking about doing things automatically, and we’ll work with you to work things out.”

“Currently about 90 - 95% of what we generate goes straight into mstore, more when we digitise job cards and write ups are done. It never gets printed off physically. Without that you’ve not gone digital or greener, it’s the emperor’s new clothes - you’re kidding yourself that you’ve gone digital.  When that’s done we’ll be generating barely any paper.”

Read more about mstore for automotive here.


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