Jocelyn Park

Don’t confuse Wrenchead, Inc. with a here-today-gone-tomorrow dotcom, or you’re only getting half the story. “We’re not a dotcom, period,” says Gus Conrades, chief executive officer. “We transitioned out of being a dotcom.” Instead, Conrades says they offer something more. Put simply, “We are a leading provider of digital and e-commerce products for the automotive industry.” Besides, Conrades says, “Successful dotcom’s are those who are a part of an already successful, established business,” in this case, the automotive aftermarket. Conrades tells MS Wrenchead Inc. did a good job at having people recognize the company –though perhaps misjudging them at first as an e-tailored dotcom only when that is only a portion of what they do. “We focus on what we do best, which is this software,” he says.

So what exactly is Wrenchead Inc. and why should you, the independent repair shop, be interested in what it has to offer? There are three major products: an electronic catalog, Vision Manager and Vision Central.

The electronic parts catalog, which was one of its first products, is continuously updated and sent out on disk on a monthly basis. A shop can use it alone or with other Wrenchead products. The Vision Estimator is an estimating, parts lookup and ordering tool for the automotive aftermarket. The system offers updated labor rates and speedy estimating and quote creating. Instead of the current 30 minutes or so it may take a technician to find parts prices, flat rate times and produce the quote, the system integrates the process, making it more user-friendly and reducing the time spent to about five to ten minutes.

The Vision Manager is a full turnkey shop management solution. A shop can run its entire business on this system, from managing inventory, tracking warranties and managing accounts payable. “We’re not displacing existing systems,” says Conrades. “We can actually integrate seamlessly with what you already have in place. We’re not asking you to switch off the systems that you’re currently using, we’re adding functionality for what you’re already using.” Other features include simplified parts look up, integrated Mitchell Labor Guide, appointment scheduling, management reporting and backorder management. Conrades says the beauty of Wrenchead, Inc.’s shop management system is that it can stand alone or be interfaced with existing systems. If a shop has three different computer systems, the Vision Manager can simplify things by integrating all the information into one single system. According to Conrades, next to ease of use and low cost, this ability to easily integrate with existing systems is what makes Wrenche ad, Inc. stay competitive. To get started, a representative comes to the shop, installs the software and provides the necessary training. The shop is then ready to go.

Vision Central is a full-feature, e-commerce platform and transaction engine that interfaces with existing business systems of WDs and their service dealers allowing them access to critical, real-time information on parts availability, technical specifications and labor guides. To use Vision Central, all a shop needs is a computer, Internet access and a password. It interfaces with current WD systems. Conrades says this is a low-cost alternative for those who have been unable to afford other name-brand, mainstream services. “We’re leveling the playing field,” he says. This helps independent shops reap the benefits of a full e-commerce system at a low cost without getting rid of existing systems, and gives them access to the electronic systems that are commonplace among the larger companies, thus helping them keep a competitive edge.

Most of Wrenchead, Inc.’s products are available on a monthly fee basis.

The company has three websites: carries information on product offerings; supplies corporate information; and offers automotive enthusiasts and DIYers access to how-to articles, message boards and a service center locator.

Conrades says Wrenchead, Inc. continues to grow by partnering and building relationships with other industry participants, such as retailers and warehouse distributors, and by offering improved products. “We’re not going away,” he says.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Adams Business Media

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