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How important are alignment services to your shop?

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I am trying to do some research on the impact of the alignment service is to repairs shops. If you sell a lot of tires, alignments are important. It also drives a lot of front end work. Its also a service you provide to be a complete provider of everything your customers need when it comes to car care. It is also probably the most expensive equipment you will ever have to purchase. If you guys have alignment racks, or send out your alignments please answer the follow questions and hopefully we can build a healthy discussion on this topic!



1. Do you have an alignment machine? What kind of alignment system do you have (please be specific)?Do you sublet your alignments? If you sublet your alignments what is the price you pay and the price you charge? If you perform in house alignments how much do you charge? How many hours do you pay your technician?



2. How efficient and productive are your alignments? How long does it take your technician to perform alignments? Are you doing predominantly 2 wheel or 4 wheel alignments? What are the times for both? Do you have to redo any comeback alignments? If so what are the return rates?



3. What percentage of your car count do you offer alignments to? What percentage do you actually align? What percentage do you also perform suspension work with alignments? What percentage do you perform tire work?



4. What is your sales process for alignments? Do you perform an alignment check with your machine? How long does it take for you check the alignment and give a print out to your customer? Do you find this method effective? What percentage do you close alignments with this method? If you have another method or sales process please explain.



5. If you have an alignment machine and rack, what was your ROI on the equipment? How long did it take you to pay it back? Did you finance? lease? pay outright?



6. How much do you advertise/market your alignment services? What have you found to be effective?



7. Do you do pre alignment inspections to check the steering/suspension? Do you charge for this if the person opts not perform an alignment?



8. Do you perform wholesale alignments for other shops? What price do you charge them? What is your retail price? How many cars do you see for this service?




Please be as specific as possible. Unless you a serious micro manager I am guessing you may not have the figures for the alignment percentages. If you have a guesstimate PLEASE note that it is a guess opposed to actual figures you are tracking. I think this will be a great topic of discussion!

Edited by mspecperformance
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I would not be very helpful answering your exact questions because my people, product and process are broken. We have a Cemb alignment machine and I do not regret purchasing it. http://cemb-usa.com/DWA1000XL.html



I have read many many posts of yours and I think an alignment machine would be perfect for your shop. Your shop definitely has what it takes to successfully make good money with alignments.


Sorry I wasn't as helpful as Joe. Joe and his shop are light years ahead of me but a shop just like his is my goal.

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M-Spec, since you wrote to me and asked me to weigh in on this topic, here is my take.

From my perspective, even though the question may seem simple, it's actually more involved,
especially when you're considering investing in a new alignment machine.

It's all about being clear about your intention. Here are a number of questions to consider.

What are you trying to do by investing in a new machine? For example...

What are you trying to do by focusing on this, as a service?

Are you trying to bump your ARO with your existing customers?

Are you trying to attract new customers?

Are you trying to make it convenient for your customers to have everything done in
your shop - to make it a one-stop-shop?

Are you trying to set your business apart from all of the other shops in the area, by
offering alignments?

Are you trying to fix efficiency issues only?

These are questions only you can answer. For example, a Hunter rep or any other sales
rep can tell you how great the alignment opportunity is but the alignment rack is
only a tool. You could have the latest technology and tools, but if you can't get
the customers in the door or communicate with the customer what the value is
to doing business with your shop, it's time and money wasted.

So, basically... how important it is... pertains to your situation only.

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My next question is: what is your strategy for promoting and selling alignments?


There's no right or wrong answer. There just has to be a strategy that delivers predictable results and sales.



This is a GREAT question. I'd love to hear some input on this. To start with what I would like to implement into our inspection process an alignment quick check. Of course this can only happen if I have an aligner capable of performing a quick check in a QUICK amount of time lol.

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We charge the same for all 4 wheel alignments, some take longer. Full contact shims isn't normal alignment procedure so we charge for that. Basically if the suspension is adjustable that's included in the price. Heating tie rod jam nuts is part of it around here even on 2 year old cars. Drilling, removing, replacing is separate operation, normally replacing springs brings the specs back in line on cars that we think need this type of major band aid. Our alignment rack came with the building but IMO it is a mandatory tool in any shop that does any type of suspension repair. I don't have enough man power to do as many alignments as I could sell so I don't push them too hard. I dont want to install a tie rod and then send my customer to another shop, they might not ever come back or they could do a sloppy job. Steering angle reset has been around since the 90's on Mercedes, we don't charge extra for it. Its so simple to do. Bottom line is even a new install full price hunter Hawkeye will pay for itself FAST! With a full time trained alignment tech on the payroll. I'll say 50% of all alignments need a small adjustment only and a correction in tire pressure to be perfect. The 50% that are way out need repairs like springs ball joints bushings tires ect.... Our hunter rack makes us a lot of money because we use it properly and the cars leave fixed. Sure we slip sometimes and line up junk but I learn my lesson every time. Toe n go for $39.99 might not be the best strategy.


Junk with big lift kits we don't do, the customer re-engineered thier truck we can't help them.

Duallys we don't do either, they don't fit on the rack.

Oversize tires and leveling kits are usually no problem, as long as the camera clears the tread we can line it up.

German cars want weight in the car, we do the best we can without a ton of special equipment.

Wholesale alignments to used car dealers has been a loser, we try to be too busy for them. They always need a ton of work that we aren't going to get.

Edited by alfredauto
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I had an old Hunter machine that was in the shop when I bought it in 2005. In 2013 I was looking into buying a new Hunter machine for around $30,000. I would have needed financing. A salesman came by and told me about the CEMB machine, and it looked very good. CEMB is a Swedish company and is huge, Their USA office is in Gainesville, GA. I bought it and paid cash and have had no payments on it!!! It has been fantastic and we do from 4 to 9 alignments per day.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Auto shop owners are always looking for ways to improve production levels. They focus their attention on their technicians and require certain expectations of performance in billable labor hours. While technicians must know what is expected of them, they have a limited amount of control over production levels. When all factors are considered, the only thing a well-trained technician has control over is his or her actual efficiency.
      As a review, technician efficiency is the amount of labor time it takes a technician to complete a job compared to the labor time being billed to the customer. Productivity is the time the technician is billing labor hours compared to the time the technician is physically at the shop. The reality is that a technician can be very efficient, but not productive if the technician has a lot of downtime waiting for parts, waiting too long between jobs, or poor workflow systems.
      But let’s go deeper into what affects production in the typical auto repair shop. As a business coach, one of the biggest reasons for low shop production is not charging the correct labor time. Labor for extensive jobs is often not being billed accurately. Rust, seized bolts, and wrong published labor times are just a few reasons for lost labor dollars.
      Another common problem is not understanding how to bill for jobs that require extensive diagnostic testing, and complicated procedures to arrive at the root cause for an onboard computer problem, electrical issue, or drivability issue. These jobs usually take time to analyze, using sophisticated tools, and by the shop’s top technician. Typically, these jobs are billed at a standard menu labor charge, instead of at a higher labor rate. This results in less billed labor hours than the actual labor time spent. The amount of lost labor hours here can cripple a shop’s overall profit.
      Many shop owners do a great job at calculating their labor rate but may not understand what their true effective labor is, which is their labor sales divided by the total labor hours sold. In many cases, I have seen a shop that has a shop labor rate of over $150.00 per hour, but the actual effective labor rate is around $100. Not good.
      Lastly, technician production can suffer when the service advisors are too busy or not motivated to build relationships with customers, which results in a low sales closing ratio. And let’s not forget that to be productive, a shop needs to have the right systems, the right tools and equipment, an extensive information system, and of course, great leadership.
      The bottom line is this; many factors need to be considered when looking to increase production levels. While it does start with the technician, it doesn’t end there. Consider all the factors above when looking for ways to improve your shop’s labor production.
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