Alignment Update: Consider Long-Term Value of Equipment

Alignment Update: Consider Long-Term Value of Equipment

Alignments are an equipment-intensive business. Purchasing this equipment is often done with the state-of-mind of “who is the least expensive.” But, “least expensive” is a relative term that can be narrow or broad in definition and scope.

Least expensive can be looked from two different perspectives. Short-term is looking at just the one-time purchase price. While, long-term means looking at the overall features that can boost profitability and productivity of the machine during its entire lifetime.

Shopping for the best short-term price can be an exercise in futility. With new information sources, it is possible to shop for the lowest price from a variety of suppliers. There is a good chance that you can find a super low price, but to bring you that price, certain aspects like features, quality and support are bound to suffer.

Long-term shopping does not mean finding the lowest price, but finding the best “value balance” of features that can boost productivity and durability. This value can be measured in the quality of the product, depth of support and innovative features. Simply put: Pay now or pay more down the road for poor quality, spotty service and crippling productivity problems.

A low-price for an alignment system often comes at the sacrifice of features and design attributes that can make the alignment bay more productive and eventually more profitable.

New features can help to maximize the technician’s time and decrease the number of trips around the car. It could be as simple as an air hose at each corner of the lift for tire inflation. Also, it could be a system that can eliminate the need to manually pull and replace the pins on the turn and slip plates.

Ask any alignment technician about what is the most time consuming part of an alignment and they will say that it is pulling the pins on the plates. With some alignment systems, an alignment might require two or three trips around the vehicle to replace the pins.

One recent innovative feature is a system that can free the plates with the touch of a button. The system even has a feature that automatically locks the plates when the lift is lower. This can save time and wasted time repairing a damaged plate.

The long-term value of a machine can have a great deal to do with the company behind it. When you purchase a piece of equipment, you are making an investment in that company and engineering resources. Researching the company requires patience and persistence, but it will pay off in the end.

Why do technicians continue to purchase tools at high prices off tool trucks when they could buy a less expensive wrench from a hardware store that could perform the same job? The first reason is quality, and the second reason is product support. If you need a new tool or break one you have, the truck will be there without fail.

Most manufacturers realize that a customer is more valuable if he becomes loyal to the brand and continues making purchases. One way they keep the customer coming back is to offer superior support and service.

It can be tempting to purchase a piece of equipment based on just the initial price. But, in the long term, cost of ownership and possible productivity issues can cost more than buying a quality piece of equipment in the first place.

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