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Hard news on software

In part two of our two-part series on tire software providers, we look at more of the major players and what they have to offer you.

In our March issue, we profiled ASA Tire Systems, OpenWebs Corp., Quality Design Systems Inc. and Andreoli & Associates. Here's a rundown of more of the top computer companies in the tire and auto service industry, how to get in touch with them via the phone and their Web sites, and what you'll see when you're surfing. Company news and new products are also spotlighted.

American Business Management Systems Inc.

Web site: www.tireguru.net

What you'll find: Tire Guru Tire Link, a complete Internet-based e-commerce system. Features include a Bay Scheduler and Catalog Maker.

In the spotlight: Tire Guru, which Clint Nicholls, president, says was designed for wholesalers to build a "multi-million dollar business-to-business link with their customers."

"With Tire Guru, they can simply log onto Tire Guru via the Internet with a secured password, see inventory availability with their specific pricing, and order the product," he says. "They can also see specifications on each tire (series, rim width, sidewall, ply, load index, speed rating, tread wear, traction, temperature, tread depth, section width and weight), as well as a picture of the tire, with features and benefits."

Phone: (877) 470-2267

Andreoli & Associates Inc. (A&A)

Web site: www.aasys.com

What you'll find: The company's HITS 2000 POS software for tire dealers, HITS Multi-Store and HITS FIRST STEP inventory control software, barcoded key chain tags and WebDIS Internet-based dealer-to-wholesaler connection software.

In the spotlight: Web-hosting service (continued from March).

With the company's Web hosting service, dealers now have an alternative to doing their own daily backups, which many times are not done anywhere near on a daily basis, says Mike Andreoli, company founder and president.

"To ensure that dealers have reliable, stable access to their Internet-based data, A&A leases servers from a 'server farm,' where more than 3,500 computers are housed under one roof," he says. "The facility is tornado and hurricane rated, equipped with backup generators and A/C cooling systems, and is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We load all updates for the dealers, and each dealer's data is backed up and verified every night," says Andreoli. "But for those dealers who want a backup copy of their data, we do offer an option whereby the dealer can periodically backup from the hosted server to a local computer."

Phone: (800) 438-4487, ext. 32.

AutoWare Technologies

Web site: www.softwheels.com

What you'll find: Software that allows your customers to visually preview how any wheel will look on their particular vehicles before the wheels are actually installed. The company's database includes more than 1,100 vehicles and 3,000 wheel styles representing 185 brands and 600 tires, all shown in high-resolution images.

And, reports the company, with the software, you have the ability to change the background behind the vehicle, view the vehicle and wheels in motion, change vehicle color, show wheel plus sizing and vehicle lowering, change the tires to white letter sidewalls or whitewalls, and much more.

In the spotlight: SoftWheels Version 8.0 with new features, including the ability to show the effects of lift kits on trucks, changing tire sizes and viewing different profiles, and TreadWare, an electronic tire guide and powerful plus-size calculator.

Phone: (850) 233-8795

Compu-Power Inc.

Web site: www.compu-powr.com

What you'll find: TRACS, a complete software system designed for tire dealers with multiple locations. TRACS is integrated with Open Road Technologies' retread system (now Bandag/QDS).

In the spotlight: TRACS currently supports barcode inventory, and the company's Premier Partner status with Intermec allows TRACS users to benefit from the power of RFID scanning (touchless, non-line of sight) to receive and track inventory through their process when tire manufacturers begin shipping RFID-tagged products.

"TRACS 'add-on' features include Wireless VIN scanning and DOT registration data collection, line-busting wireless handheld POS stations, and informational and transactional kiosks," says Ron Black, president.

Phone: (410) 964-0333

Dowell Systems

Web site: www.laborguide.net

What you'll find: Real-Time Labor Guide computer software, a labor guide for automotive, light and heavy-duty truck repair shops. It covers domestic and foreign cars and trucks made from 1974 through 2001. You can use it to print repair estimates, including diagnostic times when necessary, using your labor rates.

In the spotlight: Real Time Estimater, which helps dealers price tires and automotive parts for a service job.

"As a dealer uses it more and more, the program gets smarter and smarter," says Vern Dowell, president. "The program starts to recognize how the dealer prices jobs, and updates its estimating information."

The company has been test marketing the software and currently has about 500 dealers using the Real Time Estimater.

Phone: (800) 487-0279

E-Solution Professionals Inc.

Web site: www.esprofessionals.com

What you'll find: E-Driver, a business-to-business communication service via the Internet, On-line reporting for on-line sales information, E-Tyres for buying and selling tires, second-hand machinery, etc.

In the spotlight: E-Retailer, which helps you access preferred suppliers' product catalogs on-line, check product availability, and place an order on-line 24/7.

Phone: (702) 990-3936

Palmer Products

Web site: www.palmer-products.com

What you'll find: Auto Repair Boss, a software program for preparing and printing repair estimates and storing them for future use. Features include a screen that displays in invoice form; the ability to locate a customer by the last name, car tag number, VIN, home or work phone number; a review of the service history of any auto; an automatically adjusting inventory to reflect the parts used for each invoice; daily checks and reviews of invoices; and customized methods of payments. It can print multiple copies of invoices, and the invoice will automatically reflect the individual customer's preset discount and price levels. "Kit codes" also can be set up for jobs that require a string of parts, and vendor price sheets can be added with multi-level pricing -- pricing that can be calculated automatically based on preset percentages.

In the spotlight: Auto Repair Boss Version 8.0, a new, updated version of the company's software.

Phone: (800) 473-5198

Tire Company Solution (TCS)

Web site: www.tcstire.com

What you'll find: Fully integrated point-of-sale and accounting systems for tire dealers and automotive service companies.

In the spotlight: A recently released multiple-store version of its POS software.

"All along, our efforts have been focused on providing a high-value product to satisfy the needs of the single-store owner who wants a good, strong system to compete, but can't justify the high cost of POS systems typically aimed at larger chains and franchises," says Steve Burgess, TCS owner. "The funny thing is, our customers are increasingly opening and acquiring additional stores and asking us to provide more and more capabilities for the multi-store environment! "Because of our unique relationship with the market, we accomplished this without many of the expensive components of a 'traditional' multi store setup."

Phone: (888) 449-TIRE

Tire Point Software

Web site: www.tire-point.com

What you'll find: Tire Point Software for the retail tire and auto service industry with POS, inventory, quotes, mailing labels, accounts receivable/payable and more.

In the spotlight: Jim McDonnell, president of Tire Point Software, says his company is now offering what he calls the first touch screen program for tire dealers and service outlets.

Keys for various screen options can be color coded -- like a restaurant might have keys for drinks, main courses and desserts in different colors, McDonnell says.

This "hot keys" program "allows the user to set up on the screen 30 labeled squares (keys) which can be 'touched' (or clicked) for inventory item selections," explains McDonnell. "These can be color coded (red for tires, green for wheels, yellow for parts, etc.) for easy identification and groupings. Next page, last page, page number, these keys can be programmed, allowing for multiple and unlimited pages of 30 keys."

The company has been test marketing the Tire Point 4 touch screen technology for four years and currently has about 200 dealers using the product.

Phone: (800) 452-3201

United Software and Design

Web site: www.aaos.com/usd

What you'll find: Tirewiz complete accounting and management system for tire dealers and the Wiz Networking System (WNS), a high-speed, low cost, Internet-based networking system that connects people office-to-office, home-to-office and those on the road to the office.

For example, a company that has 25 locations with 25 people on the road can focus all data in one central "brain" at one location with WNS, according to Len Schneider, president.

In the spotlight: A mobile, two-way satellite dish system that requires no cell phones or phone lines to connect to the Internet. It can be attached to an RV, truck, van or other platform to achieve broadband speeds no matter where they are parked.

Phone: (207) 338-6238

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