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Alignment Machine Jan 2024


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Hi folks. A quick search and I did not see any recent alignment machine posts. I have a quote from Hunter, $86,000 includes a scissor life and the concrete work to flush mount it, shipping, the machine with wall mount cameras. Some accessories. If I do conservatively 3 alignments a week my break even is approx 4.5 years, a bit longer depending on financing cost.

I lease my shop, and one of my biggest fears has been getting kicked out of here. Should I be looking at obtaining a location instead? I am always nervous about taking on the massive cost of a bigger building, especially when I struggle so often to hire good people. I talked to a friend that went from a small shop like I have to a larger facility and he said it was a lot more headaches with very little increase in income. I want less headaches, less stress.

 

Maybe it is my small shop that makes it hard to hire? Is this the right time to try to get a new location? How do I even start finding financing, I do not have a ton of cash saved up right now. Should I get the alignment machine now, and continue to save up for a new location? How much do I need down for a new spot? Should I keep my eye open for other shops that might fail in the coming year and hold off on the alignment machine and continue to stack cash? I am kind of tired of loosing an employee for 30 minutes to an hour to run an alignment across town that may or may not get done to the same quality standards I hold my employees to.

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On 1/3/2024 at 12:39 PM, DUFRESNES said:

Over 10 years ago, we paid $65,000 for our hunter.  Does it pay for itself, doubtful.  Takes up a whole bay.  Yes we needed it to be a complete shop for the customer's full needs.

Thanks for this. I lose an employee for an hour each time we need to send out an alignment. I feel like it would eventually pay for itself in that aspect alone. I do worry that the bay would get less use due to the difficulty of pulling wheels on a rack style lift. Decisions!! Thanks for the input.

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Snap On has an alignment machine that works with a two post lift. This would alleviate any of my concerns but I haven't heard any reviews on it and I would wait till Hunter came out with one anyway.

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3 hours ago, pfseeley442 said:

I bought the smart aligner by RAV America, Had my last one for about 12 years, this one also will work on a two post lift. Check alternatives before spending 85K.

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How does this work on a two post lift, do you have to set the car on stands, or does it take measurements on the floor then adjusts for droop as you lift?

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

We just installed a new Hunter flush mount rack, alignment Machine I replaced a year ago with a new Hunter. I don't buy any under car equipment that isn't Hunter. This Is my third Aligner and Rack, they last between 12 to 15 years and we now average about 7 to 10 alignments a week costing about 119.95. Over the years an alignment use to be about 45 minutes, now with the technology most cars are out in 20 to 25 minutes! When it comes to service, Hunter is the best! It definately costs more, but it is worth it.  I just sold my old 12,000lb Rack for 7,000 dollars. 

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The Aligner and the rack total is probably close to 90,000. But we use the rack as a lift, we do a fleet of ambulances that get the brakes changed every 10,000 miles and several other fleets that the rack now allows us more headroom and service ability on these fleets. The ceiling height in my shop isn't great so the flush mount rack gives you a few more feet of height plus its 16,000lbs.  

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On 2/2/2024 at 5:07 AM, RYAN B said:

The Aligner and the rack total is probably close to 90,000. But we use the rack as a lift, we do a fleet of ambulances that get the brakes changed every 10,000 miles and several other fleets that the rack now allows us more headroom and service ability on these fleets. The ceiling height in my shop isn't great so the flush mount rack gives you a few more feet of height plus its 16,000lbs.  

Do the ambulances require special specs or equipment? Do you do them while the rack is on the ground?  That's how we do 1 ton trucks.

Just now, Juli Southard said:

Do the ambulances require special specs or equipment? Do you do them while the rack is on the ground?  That's how we do 1 ton trucks.

and what do you charge for these? Thanks  ~  Juli

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No, now we do them at normal height, and the rack lifts them no problem. I get 149.95 to align them. We use the rack for everything, Right now I have a utility body chevy truck we are rebuilding the differential in, it will be off the rack by 3 and I think we have 2 alignments to do after that so far. 

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I do maybe 2 or 3 alignments a week. Would that increase if I had a machine? I never did hear back from my landlord about digging up the concrete for a flush mount rack. I do have the ceiling height for non flush mount, I just worry about maneuvering around it.

 

I would be looking at a 5 to 6 year pay off before I started making money with the machine. I pay $69/ alignment right now, it is just a hassle. I would prefer to know they were being done properly in my shop..

 

Decisions! I still like the idea of the 20k unit, It would pay for itself in a year and a half. If we find ourselves doing way more alignments, I could maybe sell it and upgrade.

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For Us it did, My father put our first machine in in 1989, and it was a top of the line Hunter and it was total about 40,000. As soon as we did we were doing 10 alignments a day it was totally crazy, 2 dealerships paid off our first machine in the first year. After about 6 to 7 years of that we just stopped doing alignments for outside shops, because 75% of the time they didn't check the cars properly and parts were always bad and we were always doing double work. Now we only do our own customer cars, but people who come in see the machine and it does sell itself. If you send out 2 to 3 a week, and you have a machine I would see you doing 4 to 5 a week at 110.00 each you would be looking at like 2000 a month 24000 a year and its not hard to push that up. Our rack does generate extra income. I will always have one.   

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9 minutes ago, RYAN B said:

For Us it did, My father put our first machine in in 1989, and it was a top of the line Hunter and it was total about 40,000. As soon as we did we were doing 10 alignments a day it was totally crazy, 2 dealerships paid off our first machine in the first year. After about 6 to 7 years of that we just stopped doing alignments for outside shops, because 75% of the time they didn't check the cars properly and parts were always bad and we were always doing double work. Now we only do our own customer cars, but people who come in see the machine and it does sell itself. If you send out 2 to 3 a week, and you have a machine I would see you doing 4 to 5 a week at 110.00 each you would be looking at like 2000 a month 24000 a year and its not hard to push that up. Our rack does generate extra income. I will always have one.   

That is positive news. Maybe I should just do the above ground. I would feel much more comfortable pulling the trigger on an expensive setup if I was not leasing my space.

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The last 2 I had were above ground, and we moved the last one from the gas station we were at forever to the shop we are presently in, and it wasn't expensive or a big deal. 

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16 minutes ago, RYAN B said:

The last 2 I had were above ground, and we moved the last one from the gas station we were at forever to the shop we are presently in, and it wasn't expensive or a big deal. 

How did the move go, did you find yourself having to ramp up again, lose any clients, business drop off? Did you go to a bigger facility? Did you buy or lease?

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I made out great, the new shop was a stone's throw from our old shop, a half a block away. 100% customer retention plus new customers from the other shop, at the old shop I had 2 techs plus myself now I have 4 techs plus myself and a receptionist. The new shop was over twice the size plus a bigger parking lot and more storage are for vehicles. The shop was a lease purchase, a good start, but in the first 6 months I put a new roof on it and new heaters, new lighting 3 new lifts! The second year was new windows, a good way to spend 45,000. I had to excavate and stone my rear parking lot! Then the 3rd year we had to pour new concrete pads in the front of the doors in front of the building and the rear of the building and repair part of the parking lot, another 50,000. Every year it seems as though I spend about 50,000 on the building, it was in worse shape than I intialy thought. I don't mind it except the ceiling height is like 10 to 12  feet, and that is a little to low. My landlord that I am doing the lease purchase with is great and I am fortunate to have him, I wanted to fix the place up and establish my place before I went to the bank to get a mortgage, and now it's just a matter of timing, I don't want to pay ridiculous interest, so hopefully within the next year I will own this property and will secure my future.

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25 minutes ago, RYAN B said:

I made out great, the new shop was a stone's throw from our old shop, a half a block away. 100% customer retention plus new customers from the other shop, at the old shop I had 2 techs plus myself now I have 4 techs plus myself and a receptionist. The new shop was over twice the size plus a bigger parking lot and more storage are for vehicles. The shop was a lease purchase, a good start, but in the first 6 months I put a new roof on it and new heaters, new lighting 3 new lifts! The second year was new windows, a good way to spend 45,000. I had to excavate and stone my rear parking lot! Then the 3rd year we had to pour new concrete pads in the front of the doors in front of the building and the rear of the building and repair part of the parking lot, another 50,000. Every year it seems as though I spend about 50,000 on the building, it was in worse shape than I intialy thought. I don't mind it except the ceiling height is like 10 to 12  feet, and that is a little to low. My landlord that I am doing the lease purchase with is great and I am fortunate to have him, I wanted to fix the place up and establish my place before I went to the bank to get a mortgage, and now it's just a matter of timing, I don't want to pay ridiculous interest, so hopefully within the next year I will own this property and will secure my future.

Man this sounds like a dream come true. I hope I can find something similar soon.

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