Alignment systems offer a way shops can increase their revenue they may not even be thinking about. Many shops have older equipment that sits dormant most of the time, when the ROI of upgrading to the newer equipment can improve bottom lines quicker than ever.
It’s like with cellphones, said Andrew Randell, product manager and support for CEMB-USA. “Ten years ago a cellphone was big and bulky, you could only talk on it for maybe 30 minutes, and if you dropped it, you probably broke it.” We all know it’s not like that anymore.
Similarly with alignment equipment, he said, technology has improved the equipment to work faster, be easier to setup and alignment heads aren’t as susceptible to damage if dropped.
“Ten years ago, you had to know an awful lot about alignments. ... You had to be an alignment tech,” Randell said. “Now if you’ve got a good technician, I can turn them into an alignment tech pretty quickly, just because the machine’s that good.”
“You had to actually know what you were doing, now if you can use a computer, and click on icons ... you can align a car,” Randell said.
That’s huge for smaller shops where they won’t need to find an alignment specialist. Another big problem shops often deal with is having old, outdated equipment.
REPLACING THE OLD
“The key components when discussing functions in a wheel alignment system of any kind can always be summarized to … accuracy and repeatability,” said Oscar Ferreyra, with Cartek Group/BEAR. “Everything else becomes ‘bells and whistles’ that may or may not be used by the different users.”
Accuracy, repeatability and speed are key in imaging alignment where system cameras feed 3D images to a computer to check the vehicle’s stance vs. OEM specs. The imaging alignment systems have also added increased portability to the service.
Randell said that advanced technology has led to more durable alignment heads, and not having the need to calibrate the machine, allowing shops to invest in equipment without fear of continually paying for repairs and service of the actual capital equipment.
Alignment systems have advanced to where “you’ve really taken away two huge expenses that people are concerned about … the cost of ownership and how often do I have to calibrate it?” Randell said.
UPGRADES AND ADD-ONS
Upgrades can always be beneficial to any bottom line. Depending on the type of shop, after the initial equipment is sold, owners might be interested in different types of lift equipment or wheel clamps.
“We have wheel clamp upgrades – zero runout wheel clamps. Typically they are used for high-end cars for BMWs and Mercedes, but you can use them for anything,” said Randell. Drop-down adaptors are also available, for use on heavy-duty and large truck wheels.
Both said it is important to check on different clamps and adaptors available to be able to align majority of vehicles that come into the shop. Machines available in multiple languages are also becoming more important.
For distributors, the last key item is support — support for them in sales and support to the shops of what they are selling. Brochures and pamphlets, training sessions (live and online), mailers and more are good items to be asking about in evaluating new equipment.
Wheel alignment systems will help shops strengthen their bottom lines. The same goes for distributors that do what they can sell them.
Knowledge is power selling alignment equipment.
Whether you already perform wheel alignments or are just getting ready to get into the game, a solid understanding of four-wheel alignment principles serves as a solid foundation.