More than 30% of vehicles out on the road today need an alignment and are outside of manufacturer specs. This presents a great opportunity for dealers: Not only is there more work out there for you (which means more money to be made), but there are also drivers out there who need help with vehicle maintenance.
Here’s where you can step in and make keeping up with vehicle and tire maintenance easy, and installing one or more inspection lanes in your shop is a good start.
Typically, inspection lanes allow the car to be driven over or near sensors to read tire tread depth, alignment, suspension and other undercar data, which is generated in a matter of seconds. Some inspection lane equipment also generates a report for service professionals to review with the customers and discuss their vehicles’ health.
You may be thinking: “An inspection lane? How much is that going to cost?” While you may have to initially shell out a several thousand dollars to create an inspection lane, the returns you reap on your investment will multiply many times over.
Profit Center Opportunities
When talking about investing in new equipment, dealers always ask about return on investment (ROI). So, let’s run through the math.
Inspection lane equipment can vary in cost from $26,000 per lane for a simple tread depth scanner to up to $70,000 for a tread reader and alignment check towers.
Say you run 50 vehicles per day through your inspection lane. Around 30% of those (say, almost 18) will need an alignment. If you charge $99 for labor on each alignment, you’d be making an additional $1,782 per day. That’s an extra $53,000 per month.
So, if the cost of setting up an inspection lane ranges from $26,000 to $70,000, it could pay for itself in less than a month to two months, depending on your setup.
Plus, it acts as a customer retention tool. Once your service advisors discuss inspection reports with customers, they will have a barometer for their vehicles’ undercar health. Next time they’re wondering if a service is really necessary, they’ll come to you, because you have the equipment that proves they need the services you’re recommending.
Making the Investment
Before your shop begins the process of shopping around for inspection lane equipment, consider the costs, as previously mentioned, as well as the following factors.
The location of the equipment is crucial to consider. If the equipment is placed near the entrance of the service drive, the customer will likely perform the drive-over test. If it is placed near the exit of the service drive, a service advisor or technician will perform the test. Each has its own advantages, depending on the shop’s setup.
There are typically two options for inspection systems: above-ground or flush-mount systems that are built into the ground. The latter has several advantages: Flush-mount systems create a sleek, built-in look, are unobtrusive and don’t create a distraction in the drive aisle. Know that you will have to break ground in the drive aisle to install flush-mount systems and will have to figure out the electrical setup.
As a rule of thumb, every drive aisle should have an inspection lane. This allows for 100% inspection of all incoming vehicles. Leaving lanes open allows cars to bypass inspection, and dealers might miss out on potential revenue.
Don’t forget about the training that’s involved. A shop’s entire service team, including the service manager, should be familiar with the equipment and how to use it. Training sessions not only teach staff how to use the equipment, but they also demonstrate how your staff can present the results of an inspection to the customer, how to properly quote it and how to follow up on any work not performed.
With more than 30% of vehicles out on the road today needing an alignment, service opportunities abound for dealers that can identify a vehicle that needs servicing in a matter of seconds. Depending on its car count, a dealership can pay for an inspection lane in as little as 30 days when properly utilized.