Calibrating your ADAS sales

May 3, 2024
With numbers rising on ADAS-equipped vehicles and new ADAS equipment hitting the market, distributors need to know what works best for each of their customers.

Advanced driver assistance systems, more commonly known as ADAS, have greatly evolved in the past few years. 

“If we are talking about modules and sensors installed on a vehicle, the number of ADAS-related control units has increased dramatically in quantity and complexity over the years,” says Fabio Mazzon, technical manager for TEXA USA. “At the very beginning ADAS systems were limited to adaptive cruise control (radar sensors) and lane departure (camera sensors) to quickly and accurately confirm distance. Now there are different range radar sensors for blind spot, rear collision warning, and emergency braking, as well as lidar, cameras that can "read" speed limit signs, and more...”

However, the advancements in ADAS don’t stop there. Mazzon notes that the latest ADAS technology can help with autonomous driving and parking or be used to adjust the intensity and direction of a driver’s headlights. 

As vehicle manufacturers continue to advance the complexity and scope of ADAS, tool and equipment manufacturers have followed along, updating and coming out with new products to assist technicians who work on those vehicles. 

Just a few years ago, when Professional Distributor published its first article on selling ADAS tools and equipment, it seemed not many mobile tool distributors were trying to make that sale. Now though, there are distributors selling three to four comprehensive ADAS set-ups every year. That may not sound like much, but as you continue reading, you’ll gain a better understanding of just what this means. 

Cornwell Quality Tools distributor, Steven Errichetti, is one of those mobiles who has found successful selling ADAS units to his customers. The northern New Jersey-based distributor has been selling tools for close to 10 years now and has worked out a system to find potential ADAS customers within the variety of dealerships, independent heavy duty body shops, private auto repair shops, heavy duty repair shops, and the many other stops he makes along his route.

A tool distributor’s job is to help their customers find the tools and equipment they need to complete their work quickly, efficiently, and safely. To do this, distributors should also keep advancing. Staying up-to-date on the many options available to their customers, especially for more complex tools and equipment like those needed for ADAS, is crucial.       

Why ADAS? 

Though there are many reasons why shops aren’t offering ADAS as a service — lack of space, cost of set-up, training, etc. — it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a growing field. In last month’s issue, we featured our annual Aftermarket Profile. A study that surveys hundreds of shop owners and technicians across the country to understand what they’re purchasing for their shops and what services they are offering. Comparing 2023’s study to this year’s, the response to our question, “Does your shop offer ADAS services?” jumped from seven percent of shop owners to nine percent of shop owners, saying, “Yes, we do.” 

With the growing need for ADAS calibrations to be performed, Errichetti cites two reasons why shops should add ADAS services to their roster.

1. The money stays with the shop

When Errichetti talks with shops that are seeing repairs that include ADAS calibrations, and he hears the shop is sending those calibrations to be done elsewhere or having a mobile technician come in to perform them, he asks, “Don’t you want to save that money and put it in your own pocket?” 

He notes that ADAS has become prevalent enough in his area that some of the shops he visits have told him they see three to five vehicles a day that need ADAS calibrations performed. At that rate, Errichetti explains, shops are paying off the cost of an ADAS unit much quicker than they realize. For some shops, offering ADAS services may offer them more profit in the long run.

2. The shop’s reputation isn’t being put on the line

When a shop sends out a vehicle for ADAS work or has someone come in to handle the ADAS calibrations, it’s still their responsibility to ensure that the vehicle is properly calibrated. 

“If somebody did a calibration, and they did not do it properly,” Errichetti says, “And they end up doing the final inspection and giving it the ‘okay’ and [the customer] leaves with their car not calibrated properly, it’s still [the shop’s] responsibility because their name is on the final bill.” 

This sort of mistake has the potential to ruin a shop’s reputation. Having the calibrations done in-house, Errichetti notes, provides the shop with a sense of security because they know the job has been done right.

ADAS options

For shops interested or on the fence about providing ADAS services, showing them the options they have for the different levels of ADAS calibrations they can perform could help to make the sale.
Brandon Alexander, marketing manager for Thinkcar Tech simplifies shop service levels for ADAS into three categories. 

  1. Dynamic calibration
  2. Radar calibration 
  3. Comprehensive calibration

Dynamic calibration tends to be the most accessible level of ADAS services for a shop.

“Dynamic calibration, which involves driving a vehicle through a series of set conditions, only requires a diagnostic tablet or computer supporting this feature,” Alexander says, “Keep in mind, the ADAS subscription will likely be sold separately even if the tool supports ADAS." 

Taking it up to the next level with radar calibration, Alexander notes, generally, all that’s needed is an ADAS-capable diagnostic tool, radar reflectors, and set-up accessories. Because radar calibration is only a subset of more comprehensive, static calibrations – typically associated with front and rear bumper repairs – not only is less equipment necessary, taking up less space in the shop, Alexander explains, but it is also more affordable.   

Lastly, for shops looking to offer a comprehensive range of ADAS services encompassing dynamic, radar, and camera calibrations, they’ll need a complete ADAS system including visual targets, racks, radar reflectors, set-up accessories, and a diagnostic tablet with ADAS support, Alexander lists.

“Some of these comprehensive systems can take up a huge amount of space as main racks with electronic measuring systems and adjustment motors can be several feet wider than vehicles, weigh a significant amount, and require recharging of the internal battery packs,” Alexander says. “This is the solution most people think of when ADAS calibration is mentioned, but it is certainly not the only approach.”  

Products to stock

Once you’ve discussed the level of ADAS calibration your customer would like to be performing, you can start focusing on the tools and equipment they will need to achieve this.

To break this down further, Frank Terlap, vice president of ADAS Solutions for Opus IVS, recommends asking the following two questions.

  1. What type of vehicles do your customers service?
  2. What type of facilities do they have or plan to have? 

Terlap notes that if a shop is working on mainly domestic vehicles, the ADAS calibrations performed on them tend to be dynamic, meaning much less equipment is required than if the shop is working on Asian or European vehicles.  

Space and lighting in the shop should also be considered.  An ADAS calibration unit like TEXA’s RCCS3 can help save space in the shop. It uses digital targets on a 75” monitor for forward camera systems. Having digital targets instead of physical ones also makes adding new targets simple, notes Mazzon, as they can be added with the regular TEXA IDC5 software updates. 

Another space-saving system is the ELITE ADAS system from Thinkcar Tech. The main rack of the comprehensive ADAS system folds into a compact package saving valuable floor space. Additionally, the unit has built-in set-up instructions to help guide technicians in preparing for the calibration.

When helping your customers find the right ADAS system for their shop, having a system that has step-by-step instructions to guide them through the calibration can help ease their minds of worries about improperly calibrating a vehicle. 

However, if your customers are looking for some extra assurance when performing calibrations, the ADAS MAP software platform from Opus IVS can tell users what ADAS systems are on the car, where the components are located, what type of calibrations it needs, and why. If they prefer a more human touch for their ADAS help, Opus also offers remote diagnostics. 

Opus’ technicians can perform these ADAS services and calibrations remotely, and they can help supplement the knowledge that shops and technicians are still trying to get as they begin tackling ADAS, Terlap explains. 

Making the sale

Many factors come into play while talking with your customers about ADAS. To help make the sale, you’ll need to be fully prepared to answer any questions or objections that come up. 

Be a resource

“I think it's incumbent on [mobile tool distributors], in my opinion, that they need to understand a lot about ADAS in the vehicle, so they can consult or advise their customers on what they should be buying,” Terlap says. 

When Errichetti walks into a shop, before he even considers broaching the topic of ADAS, he’s looking at the size of the shop, asking himself if his customer would be willing to expand, paying attention to windows and other light sources. Whether he brings up ADAS or his customer does, he wants to be able to provide them with the information they need to get started with the equipment that will work best for them. 

Errichetti and Terlap both agree that the worst thing a distributor could do would be to sell a customer ADAS equipment that won’t work for them. 

Be honest

“Technology is constantly changing,” Errichetti says, “No matter how much you tell somebody, ‘Hey, this is gonna include everything you need.’ You can't say that because a year later or months later, something [new] comes out, and they might just need something more.”

It’s been about four or five years since Errichetti sold his first ADAS unit, and he believes being honest and upfront with your customers is the best way to go. So even though at the time, he provided them with everything he could to perform ADAS services, new targets have come out since then. His customer was aware this would happen, so because Errichetti was honest, whenever they need a new target, they go back to him.

“Demo” the product

Demoing an ADAS isn’t as simple as showing off a new torque wrench. If your customer is interested in seeing a product in action, see if you can connect them with another customer of yours who’s already using the product. 

Errichetti notes that shop owners tend to talk to each other, so they may even arrange a meet-up themselves. However, if they don’t arrange a meet-up or you’re not able to, try reaching out to the manufacturer to see if they know someone in the area with the product or have another way of providing a demonstration.  

Keep the manufacturer in mind

Even though being a resource to your customers doesn’t end after you’ve made a sale, it can help to keep the manufacturer in mind. Selling products, especially ones more technically complex like ADAS equipment, from manufacturers who offer training and technical support for after the sale can take some pressure off you and ease your customers’ minds. 

“[Distributors] should rely on the manufacturer for product setup and use training to support the after-sale for customers.,” Mazzon says. “Mobile distributors are promoting the [product] as well as the manufacturer after-sale support, so they need to know which manufacturer provides reliable support for their customers’ peace of mind.” 


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