CAT supplier lives: Pro-Align

Alignment is a good earner for some
Alignment is a good earner for some

Ever more garages are turning to alignment for extra income. Profits, we are told, are easy to come by and equipment can pay for itself within a matter of months. Indeed, Pro-Align reckons wheel alignment has some of the highest profit margins in the garage business.

Surely there must be a catch. CAT wanted to hear it from the workshops themselves.

Barry Higgins is Operations Manager at Thame Service Station. He’s managing to turn over an extra £6000 per month just from doing wheel alignment checks and related repairs. Higgins charges customers £35 for a front alignment check, while a £75 charge covers the full checks needed on more advanced vehicles.

“It’s rare to have a piece of equipment pay for itself so quickly,” says Higgins. “They told me it would happen, but I didn’t think it would come so quickly.

“It’s helped the business a lot, it’s made us more rounded. We were spending a fortune with outsourcing all of our alignment work. That was £1000 a month being spent on tyre fitting and alignment elsewhere. It’s now a key part of what we do.”

At £36,000 to put in, the equipment wasn’t cheap. Thame Service Station is hampered by a low roof so an extra pit had to be dug to support the alignment lift. Installation took a total of two months to complete.

A big investment, but also big profits
A big investment, but also big profits

Alignment has become an integral part of Higgins’ business and he’s now considering expanding: “If the tyre business continues to grow, we’ll think about putting in a second bay. We’ll probably do more checks a day, and will need extra staff. I’m advertising at the moment for a tyre fitter and an alignment specialist.”

For further proof, we turned to Gray’s Tyre Service’s Ian Hutchinson. After business owner Kenneth Gray decided to invest in a Hunter wheel alignment unit, he’s seeing an increase in work: “It’s a big earner for us. I know wheel alignment is a good money spinner, it goes along with the tyre services we already do here.

“We bought the machine and our wheel alignments effectively doubled. We had the whole unit paid for within three months. It’s been turning over profit since.”

With 11 bays (not including MOT and wheel alignment areas) and over 30 technicians, the business is sizeable indeed. As well as the main service centre, Grays also has a retail site, parts department, bodyshop and tyre centre.

Grays charges more than Thame Service Station for alignment work, with prices ranging from £40 + VAT for a front alignment to over £100 for a full multiple point service.

Like Higgins, Hutchinson is also thinking of purchasing a second lift.

Visual aides help customers to decide
Visual aides help customers to decide

If you need even more proof, consider that ABP Motorsport’s Chris Meredith has also just invested in a top of the range wheel alignment ramp and unit. Through efficiency savings alone, Meredith reckons he’ll pay off the £25,000 investment within 20 months. He’ll be charging at the lower end of the scale for both front and four-wheel alignment checks, pricing work at £30 and £55 respectively.

“I think we’ve got to a point now where this generation of unit can’t be beaten – it’s future proof,” says Meredith. “We can now do a check in under three minutes, where previously it could take anything up to half an hour.

“It’s not just having the right equipment. You’ve also got to have the right people who understand alignment and have had the training to do the work.”

Opening their business up to wheel alignment, has clearly been profitable for these three.

Published by Darrenmoss

CAT magazine's in-house reporter and self-confessed petrol head

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