PMM speaks to Pro-Align’s Jamie Taylor who explains how wheel alignment can help boost workshop profitability.
PMM: In general terms, remind us why wheel alignment is so important to a workshop’s profitability?
Jamie Taylor (JT): Wheel alignment continues to be one of the most profitable services that workshops can offer. With ongoing efficiency improvements, modern alignment systems are capable of helping workshops achieve profit margins of around 88%, whereas the likes of brakes and tyres typically achieve just 49% and 16% respectively.
What’s more, the number of opportunities available through alignment is huge. Our research found that nine out of every 10 cars on the road suffers from some form of misalignment, so it really is an opportunity not to be missed.
PMM: So, is it simply a case of installing some equipment and watching the money roll in?
JT: No, not at all. Having the right equipment simply gives you the capability to increase your customer service levels and profits. There are many other elements to consider and get right but, in my opinion, the most important aspect for achieving a fantastic return on your wheel alignment equipment lies in how workshops can use it to improve their transparency, which leads to long-term customer satisfaction.
PMM: Why is transparency so important?
JT: Historically, the motor trade has not done a great job promoting itself! There are countless examples over the last 20 or 30 years of garages being stung in ‘rip-off’ investigations. The impact of this is that many motorists simply don’t trust garages.
However, when performed correctly, wheel alignment can significantly change this perception. It’s unacceptable for workshops to simply recommend some alignment work to customers or try the hard-sell approach. These approaches simply don’t work and only build up further levels of mistrust. The customer needs to understand why the work is being recommended and advised, and some systems can even help with this.
With Hunter wheel alignment systems, for example, results can be communicated using an easy-to-understand colour-coded printout, which can also be sent directly to customers’ email inboxes or smart phones.
PMM: What’s the best approach that you’ve seen in improving wheel alignment ROI?
JT: The wheel alignment printout that is generated by Hunter systems undoubtedly plays a massive part in increasing alignment sales and ROI, but there are other aspects, too.
An alignment check should be performed as part of a basic vehicle health check that every vehicle entering the workshop goes through. When the check takes around 70 to 90 seconds with a system like the Hunter Elite TD, why wouldn’t you include this?
Some of the most successful workshops I’ve seen include the check within their vehicle assessment and simply deliver the results to the customer as a value-added service. No scare tactics are needed – simply offer friendly advice and let the customer go away and think about things. Schedule a call back and more often than not, the customer will have pondered the misalignment results and understood that it makes sense to have the work done.
PMM: Does this approach really work?
JT: Absolutely! Investment in a high-end wheel alignment system could be as much as £30,000 but I’ve had customers who have recouped this investment within just three months. After that, all alignment income is pure profit! I have another customer who generates around 180 paying wheel alignment jobs per month at an average cost of around £60, just from one wheel alignment system!