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Dedicated alignment lift or 2 post with stands?


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Anyone using alignment stands on a 2 post lift? How are they for daily use?

 

I have a smaller shop with 2 techs and 3 bays, We have 2 lifts and 1 small "flat" bay. We are Japanese specialty shop that is growing and we were planning to add a new lift to the flat bay. The bay is not deep enough for a true 4 post alignment lift, so I was planning to purchase a new 2 post lift and add stands with an alignment machine in the near future. In searching for the right lift to be used with stands, I was just offered a used 2 post Hunter alignment rack that would fit in the bay for the same price as the 2 post with stands... and that really got me thinking...

 

We do an average of 25 cars a week on 2 makes and we are adding 3 more early this year (thus the need for another lift). We just started doing tires this past year and only sublet alignments when they are absolutely necessary. Our situation is pushing us towards needing an alignment machine in house, but we could use another lift for "over flow" just a much.

 

 

Knowing that we will be doing alignments out of necessity in the near future, I am leaning towards having a dedicated alignment lift. My questions are:

 

1. Does anyone regret purchasing their stands over an actual alignment lift?

2. Does anyone do "other" work on their alignment lift?

3. And how many alignments should I really expect?

 

 

If space were a major issue, what would you do?

(Drive-on alignment lift -OR- 2 post lift with alignment stands?)

Edited by J.P. GLENN
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On 12/22/2015 at 11:25 PM, J.P. GLENN said:

Anyone using alignment stands on a 2 post lift? How are they for daily use?

 

I have a smaller shop with 2 techs and 3 bays, We have 2 lifts and 1 small "flat" bay. We are Japanese specialty shop that is growing and we were planning to add a new lift to the flat bay. The bay is not deep enough for a true 4 post alignment lift, so I was planning to purchase a new 2 post lift and add stands with an alignment machine in the near future. In searching for the right lift to be used with stands, I was just offered a used 2 post Hunter alignment rack that would fit in the bay for the same price as the 2 post with stands... and that really got me thinking...

 

We do an average of 25 cars a week on 2 makes and we are adding 3 more early this year (thus the need for another lift). We just started doing tires this past year and only sublet alignments when they are absolutely necessary. Our situation is pushing us towards needing an alignment machine in house, but we could use another lift for "over flow" just a much.

 

 

Knowing that we will be doing alignments out of necessity in the near future, I am leaning towards having a dedicated alignment lift. My questions are:

 

1. Does anyone regret purchasing their stands over an actual alignment lift?

2. Does anyone do "other" work on their alignment lift?

3. And how many alignments should I really expect?

 

 

If space were a major issue, what would you do?

(Drive-on alignment lift -OR- 2 post lift with alignment stands?)

I have the stands you are talking about. They were $1900 and I used them twice.... I actually had a 4 post and it was just much easier driving it on the 4 post than setting up the stands.

Now if I didn't have a 4 post, I would've used the stands no problem. My third shop I just moved into doesn't have a 4 post so I am thinking of taking my stands over there when I get an alignment machine. If a 4 post will not fit, then 2 post with stands is fine. 

 

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On 3/21/2017 at 10:23 PM, xrac said:

Is anyone using the scissor type alignment lift? IF so what brand and how well do you like it.  Does anyone have the Hunter Sissor lift?  

We have a Hunter scissor lift.  Besides alignments and the repairs related to them, we do oil changes on the lift and we do inspections on it.  In a pinch we've done brakes also.

I would think that monkeying with the stands would create inefficientcy in the shop, as opposed to drive on - drive off situation.

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1 hour ago, mspecperformance said:

Jay, what kind of marketing are you doing especially for launching the new shops?

I'm mostly doing google adwords, that seems to work the best. I tried  a couple facebook campaigns and I pay Yelp as well. My new shop was actually busier today than my old one - my third one opening next week I think will be busy from the getgo bc of the location. 

All my adwords ads links to my specials page and I have a really high conversion rate: carmedixnc.com/specials

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26 minutes ago, PAPShop said:

We have a Hunter scissor lift.  Besides alignments and the repairs related to them, we do oil changes on the lift and we do inspections on it.  In a pinch we've done brakes also.

I would think that monkeying with the stands would create inefficientcy in the shop, as opposed to drive on - drive off situation.

4 post lifts/alignment lifts are GREAT for quick oil changes. Also good for heavy trucks, ours is rated for 18k lbs and we've had some pretty big trucks on there

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1 hour ago, Jay Huh said:

I'm mostly doing google adwords, that seems to work the best. I tried  a couple facebook campaigns and I pay Yelp as well. My new shop was actually busier today than my old one - my third one opening next week I think will be busy from the getgo bc of the location. 

All my adwords ads links to my specials page and I have a really high conversion rate: carmedixnc.com/specials

What has been your experience with car count and ARO for your first month up to 3 months? 

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2 hours ago, PAPShop said:

We have a Hunter scissor lift.  Besides alignments and the repairs related to them, we do oil changes on the lift and we do inspections on it.  In a pinch we've done brakes also.

I would think that monkeying with the stands would create inefficientcy in the shop, as opposed to drive on - drive off situation.

Did you flush mount your alignment rack?

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On 3/21/2017 at 11:23 PM, xrac said:

Is anyone using the scissor type alignment lift? IF so what brand and how well do you like it.  Does anyone have the Hunter Sissor lift?  

Hi, XRAC! In February we took delivery of a new Hunter alignment machine and 16,000 lb. capacity scissor lift. We had an older scissor lift that we moved to a different bay. We love our new machine and lift as we can turn out alignments quickly and also do longer trucks than previously. Alignments are now being performed in and out in 15 to 20 minutes. I am very pleased with our new machine's performance and capacity!

 

Hi-Gear

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1 hour ago, mspecperformance said:

What has been your experience with car count and ARO for your first month up to 3 months? 

Not sure if I understand the question but in Jan my car count was 178 and Feb was 179. My ARO Jan $159, Feb $238 (hired master tech and his apprentice and they do awesome inspections - reason for the jump in ARO)

Now March was when I increased Adwords budget and started campaigning like crazy bc of the new shop. Yelp ads I kept at $425 and I boosted Adwords from like $1000 to $2000-$2500, also spent $50 on a couple small Facebook campaigns. March car count was 261 with $229 ARO. March was also when my second shop became fully open. 55 out of 261 cars were from the new shop. March of LAST year my car count was 129 with $229 ARO

I broke a lot of records in March, total sales, GP and car count. Previously my record total sales for the month was low $40's. I was like $200 shy from $60k in March, and that's with nearly $10k sitting ($2400 head job just booked out today). Only thing that I have really seen work is Google. Yelp brought me a decent clutch job so far this month. Word of mouth is good too, got a $1,000 timing belt job coming Wed that is a referral.

What I noticed after opening a second location is that my first shop started ranking better on Google (could be my imagination....) but if I type in "auto repair durham nc," I am #6 on the list and the ones before me have been open for YEARS. It's just now been a full year for me.  If you sort by ratings of 4+ stars, I am #3 on the list. I think having more than one locations gives a perception of less risk for the customer and they are more likely to try out your shop.

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39 minutes ago, Jay Huh said:

Not sure if I understand the question but in Jan my car count was 178 and Feb was 179. My ARO Jan $159, Feb $238 (hired master tech and his apprentice and they do awesome inspections - reason for the jump in ARO)

Now March was when I increased Adwords budget and started campaigning like crazy bc of the new shop. Yelp ads I kept at $425 and I boosted Adwords from like $1000 to $2000-$2500, also spent $50 on a couple small Facebook campaigns. March car count was 261 with $229 ARO. March was also when my second shop became fully open. 55 out of 261 cars were from the new shop. March of LAST year my car count was 129 with $229 ARO

I broke a lot of records in March, total sales, GP and car count. Previously my record total sales for the month was low $40's. I was like $200 shy from $60k in March, and that's with nearly $10k sitting ($2400 head job just booked out today). Only thing that I have really seen work is Google. Yelp brought me a decent clutch job so far this month. Word of mouth is good too, got a $1,000 timing belt job coming Wed that is a referral.

What I noticed after opening a second location is that my first shop started ranking better on Google (could be my imagination....) but if I type in "auto repair durham nc," I am #6 on the list and the ones before me have been open for YEARS. It's just now been a full year for me.  If you sort by ratings of 4+ stars, I am #3 on the list. I think having more than one locations gives a perception of less risk for the customer and they are more likely to try out your shop.

You are calculating everything by total sales from all locations? It may help if you do more of a breakout per location. 

I was mainly interested in how fast you are getting your stores up and what kind of car count and ARO you are seeing from them. I see that you are opening #3 which is impressive. I am in the middle of expansion myself. I have a very robust plan that I've been working on for the better part of the year but I am always looking to improve it. As you probably are aware since you've expanded, getting the car count and numbers up when launching is extremely crucial for cash flow. 

Your number seem extremely low for 2 stores, how are you handling the expenses? It might be just a different in area that I am not taking into account. 

 

 

Thanks for sharing your numbers by the way

Edited by mspecperformance
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15 minutes ago, mspecperformance said:

You are calculating everything by total sales from all locations? It may help if you do more of a breakout per location. 

I was mainly interested in how fast you are getting your stores up and what kind of car count and ARO you are seeing from them. I see that you are opening #3 which is impressive. I am in the middle of expansion myself. I have a very robust plan that I've been working on for the better part of the year but I am always looking to improve it. As you probably are aware since you've expanded, getting the car count and numbers up when launching is extremely crucial for cash flow. 

Your number seem extremely low for 2 stores, how are you handling the expenses? It might be just a different in area that I am not taking into account. 

 

 

Thanks for sharing your numbers by the way

Yea for march I did bc the second location just opened but this month I am seperating the 3. 

I see the 3 locations as an extension of one another. They are under the same LLC, shop management software is all under the same account so all my advisors see all RO's. Startup cost for each location is really low and really simple. I always try and negotiate free rent upfront. (Typically 2-3 months). The third one already had 4 lifts and air hooked up from previous tenant, I bought all the equipment from him for $4500 and he is taking $500 installments! Lol. He even left the furniture.

I am still new to this and there's a lot that I don't know. I rather try and fail than not try and regret later in life. I'm still young so failing doesn't scare me but as of now I don't see failure as an option. Started this business with no capital. Every year I open a business card with no interest and pay it off before apr hits. I have a business line of credit that I've never touched. If I overanalyzed or delayed in taking action throughout this whole journey, I'd probably still be a mobile mechanic working out of my 01 Jetta or still a service advisor at carmax 

 

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But yea cash flow is important but when you already have a location making money, you don't get as stressed about the new location. Also with 2-3 months free rent, expenses are low so you should at least break even. Also for your second and third locations, you already have a customer base. 

But you should probably get advice from someone more experienced lol. I am experimenting as I go 

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10 hours ago, Jay Huh said:

But yea cash flow is important but when you already have a location making money, you don't get as stressed about the new location. Also with 2-3 months free rent, expenses are low so you should at least break even. Also for your second and third locations, you already have a customer base. 

But you should probably get advice from someone more experienced lol. I am experimenting as I go 

Jay I understand your logic however I would be wary if I didn't have a better plan of how my car count, ARO and profitability would look like beyond the 2-3 months of free rent. That's why having the right marketing plan and projections is of particular importance to me.

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10 minutes ago, mspecperformance said:

PAP, what model rack did you get? 

RX10, we've had it for about 4 years.  We have a second set of ramps that we use so we can do low profile cars. 

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On 4/4/2017 at 10:44 AM, mspecperformance said:

Jay I understand your logic however I would be wary if I didn't have a better plan of how my car count, ARO and profitability would look like beyond the 2-3 months of free rent. That's why having the right marketing plan and projections is of particular importance to me.

Yea I definitely understand. What really motivated me to do what I did was reading "Think and Grow Rich." Amazing book. Also "the 10x Rule" was part of it as well.

If you see me in Chicago come Sept, that means I'm still in business :) 

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22 hours ago, xrac said:

 The one we are considering is a RX16. 

XRAC, we bought the RX16 and can put most any vehicles we service on it. It makes an extended cab F150 look short. If the price is right, it will be an awesome addition to your shop!

 

Hi-Gear

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On 4/3/2017 at 10:12 PM, carolinahigear said:

Hi, XRAC! In February we took delivery of a new Hunter alignment machine and 16,000 lb. capacity scissor lift. We had an older scissor lift that we moved to a different bay. We love our new machine and lift as we can turn out alignments quickly and also do longer trucks than previously. Alignments are now being performed in and out in 15 to 20 minutes. I am very pleased with our new machine's performance and capacity!

 

Hi-Gear

Hi-Gear how much did it cost you the total package? I just got a quote from Hunter the rack is $32,070 and the Alignment machine is $13,660.

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On 11/16/2017 at 3:44 PM, Gavilan said:

Hi-Gear how much did it cost you the total package? I just got a quote from Hunter the rack is $32,070 and the Alignment machine is $13,660.

Hi, Gavilan! That sounds like a great price. I bought the Hunter Hawkeye Elite w/ the RX-16 lift with all the options and it was right at $67,000. You cannot go wrong with Hunter!!

 

Hi-Gear

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