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Alignment Procedures


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Hello all,

 

I would like some input from other automotive repair shops in regards to alignment procedures. When a customer requests an alignment how do you handle it? Do you ask questions such as "is it veering/pulling/shaking, how are the tires,etc? or have them fill out a questionaire of what their primary complaint is.

Would it be a good idead to test drive the vehicle before and after an alignment?

 

Do you also do a suspension/steering inspection prior to the alignment? If you were to find something wrong, ie tie rods bad do you charge for a diagnostic or just proceed with the alignment and make the necessary recommendation service notes?

 

Any input would be much appreciated it as we are trying to expand our business with alignment services.

 

Thank you and happy holidays!

 

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I think folks do not get up one morning and think..."hey I need to get the car aligned!" The real reason must be discovered with an analytical mind and open ended questions. Like Joe said, ya gotta be a good detective. Years ago a customer told me he was 100% sure he needed an alignment on his Fairmont. I asked why, and he told me the same thing, he needed an alignment. Being a newbie store manager and not wanting to upset this guy, we did his alignment. He was back in less then an hour and said the damn car was still shaking at 70 MPH! Well I personally balanced his tires and that solved his problem. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Get them to tell you why they are in your shop asking for an alignment. Once you know the problem, solve it for them and make them feel good about it.

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All great info in this thread. I will share this personal experience on my daughters 2007 Acura TL. I purchased new tires and did the recommended alignment no problem as I wanted to keep the tire wear to a minimum even though I knew that the 16 year old driving this car will curb check the heck out of it. I watched the tech and I was pleased with the time spent on checking it out. They recommended a couple items and we ended up doing camber kits in the back and replacing the compliance bushings in the front. After all of this the tech performed the adjustments and went to reset the steering angle sensor with their newer Hunter Machine. The tech ran into an issue, after he did the relearn the dash was lit up with lights, ABS, Brake, Check Engine, and as few more. Long story short their tool would not perform the relearn. Luckily with the right tool this is about a 5 min fix.

 

I bring this up because 1) You should be selling a steering angle reset diagnostic fee, and 2) You need to be aware that to really perform the service right then having a quality scan tool to perform this is now a reality.

 

Out of curiosity, how many shops here are performing this relearn and charging for it? If you are have you had any issues like what I described? We find that a lot of shops don't do it for a whole list of reasons. Don't let those excuses keep you from doing it right.

 

Merry Christmas everyone, hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season.

 

Thanks

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         3 comments
      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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