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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...

 

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

 

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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In my experience if you have equipment that is not easy to use then you most likely will shy away from using it. I never used stands however we did have our scissor alignment rack not in the best location. We hardly used our alignment machine because of the inconvenience. Once we rearranged our lifts then we started performing more alignments. Just some things to think about.

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I agree with M-Spec.

 

We have an alignment lift (cover photo on https://www.facebook.com/Paradigm-Automotive-99678520342/ ). We use the lift for other work, short jobs and especially oil changes....... hook up all the tires and air up the tires, tech can walk under car and do inspection while oil is draining. I've seen a few brake jobs done on it, and the owner tends to schedule PPI's on that lift so he can "show & tell" what is wrong with the vehicles.

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Thanks for the responses!

 

 

I use a 2 post with stands only because I have a 2 bay shop, with bays that are really smaller then average. So the flexibility for me was the big thing, it's much faster with a drive on lift for sure but it was another investment at the moment.

The flexibility is definitely a concern. The cost for me will be the same (although I am comparing a used alignment lift to a new 2 post). Do you think you would sell more alignments if you had the space for an alignment lift?

 

 

In my experience if you have equipment that is not easy to use then you most likely will shy away from using it. I never used stands however we did have our scissor alignment rack not in the best location. We hardly used our alignment machine because of the inconvenience. Once we rearranged our lifts then we started performing more alignments. Just some things to think about.

This particular bay is not in the best location to start with. That factor is making this decision so much harder than it should be! I think the location will be better suited for alignments but I am concerned about losing the ability to do other jobs if necessary. Unfortunately we are stuck with an inconvenient situation no matter what I do. Since we have never really pushed selling alignments I also have no idea of what to expect as for how many we will (or could) be doing.

 

I guess the question I am really trying to answer is, If you had only 2 techs and 3 bays what would you rather have: A shop full of regular lifts with alignment stands, or 2 regular lifts and one alignment lift?

 

 

I agree with M-Spec.

 

We have an alignment lift (cover photo on https://www.facebook.com/Paradigm-Automotive-99678520342/ ). We use the lift for other work, short jobs and especially oil changes....... hook up all the tires and air up the tires, tech can walk under car and do inspection while oil is draining. I've seen a few brake jobs done on it, and the owner tends to schedule PPI's on that lift so he can "show & tell" what is wrong with the vehicles.

That is my expectation with an alignment lift. Thanks for the input.

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You should also look at it from a numbers stand point. If you are seeing approx 25 cars a week that is approx 100 cars a month give or take. How many alignments are you currently outsourcing? How much time is spent on sending the car out? What kind of profit are you seeing from it? how much do you charge the customer? What percentage of your work is suspension/steering related?

 

My method for selling alignments and undercarriage work differs from most. Since you specialize in only a few brands this might work for you as well. We also work with a lower car count than most. Our alignments start at 179.99. Since we work on German makes this is more understandable but the idea is you want to and can charge a premium. It boils down to how you are selling the service. If you can effectively build value in your alignment which is DIFFERENT than the guys down the road then your conversion percentage will increase. You will also recommend alignments and tire balancing if any undercarriage service is performed. Also it should be a focus on your vehicle inspections and test drives. All of them. You may also want to create a after sales system for "maintenance alignments". This is a great way to book a client's next appoint. Say for instance your regular alignment charge is $150. The client has come in and gotten some struts, control arms and alignment performed. During delivery you mention your maintenance alignment program. You explain your vehicle can come out of alignment over time due to various reasons such as poor roads, changing seasons, road debris etc. We recommend that we check your alignment yearly and make any adjustments necessary. Our regular alignment cost is $150 however for our maintenance alignment clients we only charge $79.99. Book them for that appointment even if they really dont even know their schedule. When you are 2 weeks out from that date, give them a call and see if they can still make that appointment or if you have to reschedule them.

 

These are ideas and advice. There are many ways you can play it but the goal is that you have some sort of sales system behind it. Alignment lifts and aligners are very expensive and you need to a return on your investment.

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mspecperformance,

 

I really want to look at it from a numbers stand point but I keep feeling like it is more of a "guess" than anything else. We only sublet about 3 a month, it is time consuming, and when looking at the labor cost of 2 trips with 2 people we really don't make anything on them. Due to the fact it isn't profitable, we turn away another 3 a month on average. We typically only sell them when doing steering work or replacing tires on a vehicle that has obvious alignment issues. Since we are only selling them when absolutely necessary, I have no idea of how many to expect to be performing.

 

I do plan to schedule yearly alignments and I love the idea of the different priced services. We also just started doing digital inspections so finding the sales opportunities shouldn't be an issue. And to be completely honest, I personally feel that we are doing our clients a disservice by not selling more than we currently do.

 

Being there are no parts involved (typically) it seems to be less profitable than most repair/maintenance work. This is probably my biggest hesitation to an alignment lift over a 2 post lift. At the same time, we will be doing alignments and we will be doing as many as possible so I want to make them as efficient as possible. As with almost anything else, I guess I can't have it all!

 

 

Thanks again for the advice

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I'm still new to the alignment game, just got the machine and stands operational within the last couple weeks. I make it a effort to make sure that the bay where everything is stays as open as it can so I can do alignments when needed. I'm not doing alot currently, but I've done about 1 a day since I've gotten everything operational.

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mspecperformance,

 

I really want to look at it from a numbers stand point but I keep feeling like it is more of a "guess" than anything else. We only sublet about 3 a month, it is time consuming, and when looking at the labor cost of 2 trips with 2 people we really don't make anything on them. Due to the fact it isn't profitable, we turn away another 3 a month on average. We typically only sell them when doing steering work or replacing tires on a vehicle that has obvious alignment issues. Since we are only selling them when absolutely necessary, I have no idea of how many to expect to be performing.

 

I do plan to schedule yearly alignments and I love the idea of the different priced services. We also just started doing digital inspections so finding the sales opportunities shouldn't be an issue. And to be completely honest, I personally feel that we are doing our clients a disservice by not selling more than we currently do.

 

Being there are no parts involved (typically) it seems to be less profitable than most repair/maintenance work. This is probably my biggest hesitation to an alignment lift over a 2 post lift. At the same time, we will be doing alignments and we will be doing as many as possible so I want to make them as efficient as possible. As with almost anything else, I guess I can't have it all!

 

 

Thanks again for the advice

 

 

I'm still new to the alignment game, just got the machine and stands operational within the last couple weeks. I make it a effort to make sure that the bay where everything is stays as open as it can so I can do alignments when needed. I'm not doing alot currently, but I've done about 1 a day since I've gotten everything operational.

 

 

My learning curve was harsh. We were using a bosch alignment machine at first which cost me 20k. Pure junk. Alignments took a loooooong time to complete, many times were incorrect due to a garbage machine and the lift was in an awkward location. This really stunted my growth in regards to effectively sell alignments. To many alignments profitable with a low car count you really have to have a perfect storm of a STRONG sales strategy and sales team, good equipment (we have a hunter hawkeye elite now), easy access, and good technicians performing alignments.

 

With a low car count you really have to push alignments hard. In my personal experience I could not see being profitable and turning out quality work without having all those things in place.

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I went with the Hawkeye Elite, I'm in a unique situation where I don't have any rent basically so it allows me to use money that would be for that on other things. I'm having my best 2 month streak ever, thanks in large part to this site but I'm still shy of 15k/month in gross.

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We have a Hunter presto 2 yrs old. We do on average 2 alignments per day. We use stands and it works for us. The old machine we had was a Sun that worked great. However the old machine was cables and took too much time to set up. The new hunter is a wireless which saves time. I will say that the stands are a little of a pain but we can still perform a 4 wheel alignment on most cars in 30 minutes.

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CMillet86 AND Bockauto,

 

Thank you for the input. 1-2 alignments a day would make it worth it for me to go with the alignment lift over the stands in our current situation. If you don't mind sharing, what car count do you guys have? (If you don't want to share exact numbers as I did, feel free to give a % of total car count or something along those lines.)

 

Hunter rep is giving me some numbers of their expectations of what could be done. Obviously the sale is up to us. I'm interested in the "real world" numbers of what others are doing so that I can make an educated plan.

 

 

 

Also - Is anyone checking alignments on services or normal inspections for free?

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CMillet86 AND Bockauto,

 

Thank you for the input. 1-2 alignments a day would make it worth it for me to go with the alignment lift over the stands in our current situation. If you don't mind sharing, what car count do you guys have? (If you don't want to share exact numbers as I did, feel free to give a % of total car count or something along those lines.)

 

Hunter rep is giving me some numbers of their expectations of what could be done. Obviously the sale is up to us. I'm interested in the "real world" numbers of what others are doing so that I can make an educated plan.

 

 

 

Also - Is anyone checking alignments on services or normal inspections for free?

 

I haven't done much with the quickcheck feature yet, working on that. I have low car counts currently, it's taken an uptick the last couple months. I don't currently have a car coming in each day.

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Also - Is anyone checking alignments on services or normal inspections for free?

 

We have teamed up with Discount Tire. They only do wheels and tires and that is it. They refer all of their customers to us for alignment checks and give the customer a $5 off coupon for an alignment (they also send their customers to us for any other repair work). We do the alignment check for free, and have built the reputation of being the best in town for alignment checks and usually do a "show and tell" when a car needs an alignment.

 

We are more likely to throw a car or truck on the alignment rack since we do have one and Vehicle Inspections are also done on the alignment rack so we can do an alignment check.

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CMillet86 AND Bockauto,

 

Thank you for the input. 1-2 alignments a day would make it worth it for me to go with the alignment lift over the stands in our current situation. If you don't mind sharing, what car count do you guys have? (If you don't want to share exact numbers as I did, feel free to give a % of total car count or something along those lines.)

 

Hunter rep is giving me some numbers of their expectations of what could be done. Obviously the sale is up to us. I'm interested in the "real world" numbers of what others are doing so that I can make an educated plan.

 

 

 

Also - Is anyone checking alignments on services or normal inspections for free?

 

 

 

I haven't done much with the quickcheck feature yet, working on that. I have low car counts currently, it's taken an uptick the last couple months. I don't currently have a car coming in each day.

 

 

Think of alignment checks the same as vehicle inspections. You perform a vehicle inspection on EVERY car that comes through your door to up sell services. You can't upsell services if your customer's (and you) don't know that they are needed! Alignment quick checks perform the same function. This will be the advantage or detriment of the alignment system you are running as well as the type of lift you have. Alignment quick checks need to be exactly that, QUICK. If you have a cumbersome system you will not be able to effectively perform a check on every car. You will also shy away from actually performing them since it will be a chore rather than a method for you to make money.

 

On my Bosch camera system it took me 15 minutes to set up and an additional 10 minutes to break down the heads. That also included racking up the car. That was entirely too much time to perform an alignment quick check. On my Hunter HawkEye Elite it takes me 2 minutes tops and we can perform quickchecks on the ground without having to have the car on the rack.

 

It all depends on how you want to sell alignments but quickchecks are a powerful tool and I highly recommend you utilize them in some fashion.

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Think of alignment checks the same as vehicle inspections. You perform a vehicle inspection on EVERY car that comes through your door to up sell services. You can't upsell services if your customer's (and you) don't know that they are needed! Alignment quick checks perform the same function. This will be the advantage or detriment of the alignment system you are running as well as the type of lift you have. Alignment quick checks need to be exactly that, QUICK. If you have a cumbersome system you will not be able to effectively perform a check on every car. You will also shy away from actually performing them since it will be a chore rather than a method for you to make money.

 

On my Bosch camera system it took me 15 minutes to set up and an additional 10 minutes to break down the heads. That also included racking up the car. That was entirely too much time to perform an alignment quick check. On my Hunter HawkEye Elite it takes me 2 minutes tops and we can perform quickchecks on the ground without having to have the car on the rack.

 

It all depends on how you want to sell alignments but quickchecks are a powerful tool and I highly recommend you utilize them in some fashion.

How can I research this? Sounds excellent.

 

Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk

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How can I research this? Sounds excellent.

 

Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk

 

 

It is hard to shift through the marketing info because a company will not tell you "Our machine takes 15 minutes to set up" or "Our machine is really not conducive for productivity." I made a $47k mistake because of bullshit marketing from these companies. This is the truth of the matter from the horse's mouth... Any camera system is going to under perform vs a targeting system. The 2 companies that sell productive targeting systems are Hunter and John Bean. Both companies also sell camera system on their low end. The design flaw is inherent in ANY camera system. Reason being is because the mounts have to be attached to each wheel and the camera has to then be attached. They also all have to be leveled before you can move on with your alignment. All those extra steps eat away at time. Stick to the higher end systems. If you want a system that will be fast and productive I would highly recommend the Hunter Hawk Eye Elite. Even though it is one of the most expensive systems on the market it will do the job whilst you will be wasting your time fiddling around with a lesser system. I can't comment on John Bean as I have never used one however they are similar technology. John Bean's machine does look slightly more cumbersome to use due to Hunter having a much better design with their targets. The difference in how fast a car can be set up on the aligner and broken down is still on a matter of 2-5 minutes more on a John Bean from what I can tell.

 

If you do some simple calculations let say it takes a Hunter system 5 minutes to attach and break down (It takes us 1-2 minutes I have timed it). A Camera system to set up and break down takes upwards of 15 minutes. Lets say 10 minutes for arguments sake. If you are trying to average 2 alignments a day, that is a 10 minute savings daily. On a week basis that would 50 minutes you are saving and so on and so forth.

 

Even another thing to think about is what if you have to rack the car and set up the aligner if the alignment is off or the customer complains about the alignment? There goes another 15 minutes of lost time.

Edited by mspecperformance
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It is hard to shift through the marketing info because a company will not tell you "Our machine takes 15 minutes to set up" or "Our machine is really not conducive for productivity." I made a $47k mistake because of bullshit marketing from these companies. This is the truth of the matter from the horse's mouth... Any camera system is going to under perform vs a targeting system. The 2 companies that sell productive targeting systems are Hunter and John Bean. Both companies also sell camera system on their low end. The design flaw is inherent in ANY camera system. Reason being is because the mounts have to be attached to each wheel and the camera have to then be attached. They also all have to be leveled before you can move on with your alignment. All those extra steps eat away at time. Stick to the higher end systems. If you want a system that will be fast and productive I would highly recommend the Hunter Hawk Eye Elite. Even though it is one of the most expensive systems on the market it will do the job whilst you will be wasting your time fiddling around with a lesser system. I can't comment on John Bean as I have never used one however they are similar technology. John Bean's machine does look slightly more cumbersome to use due to Hunter having a much better design with their targets. The difference in how fast a car can be set up on the aligner and broken down is still on a matter of 2-5 minutes more on a John Bean from what I can tell.

 

If you do some simple calculations let say it takes a Hunter system 5 minutes to attach and break down (It takes us 1-2 minutes I have timed it). A Camera system to set up and break down takes upwards of 15 minutes. Lets say 10 minutes for arguments sake. If you are trying to average 2 alignments a day, that is a 10 minute savings daily. On a week basis that would 50 minutes you are saving and so on and so forth.

 

Even another thing to think about is what if you have to rack the car and set up the aligner if the alignment is off or the customer complains about the alignment? There goes another 15 minutes of lost time.

Thanks for the info Adam.

 

Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk

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