The way to grow your business, stay profitable and increase trade through your doors is by investing in new equipment and MoT-testing bays. And while it’s often not cheap, new tools, equipment and fresh training means you and your colleagues keep up to date with the latest technology – and means you can meet the main dealer threat head-on.
So what do you need to be thinking about when it comes to investing? Here are 5 important areas to invest in your garage.
Lifts & ramps
Cars are more complicated underneath than they used to be, and getting to all the various parts isn’t easy with an old-school inspection pit. The solution is to go for a lift, and with single-, two- and four-post types available, there’s bound to be one suited to your workshop and the types of jobs you do. If you’re having a new lift or ramp installed, consider where it’s being installed. Most lift suppliers offer a design and installation service to take the worry out of this sometimes extensive job, and help you to then get the most from your new purchase. Electro-mechanical and electro-hydraulic models broaden the choice further.
When you’re using your lift remember that some cars need to be lifted in a particular way, or on a certain type of lift, because of potential weaknesses in their bodyshell or underside components.
The heart of any service or repair job, diagnostic equipment is a must-have for any workshop whether it’s big or small, or in a rural or urban location. Without a basic diagnostic tool you’re no longer able to find where the fault lies, and you won’t be able to reset the dashboard lights either. Unfortunately modern cars need more and more diagnostic
equipment support to handle repairs, so when you’re buying diagnostic equipment make sure it’s as up to date as possible, and that it can be upgraded to keep abreast of new models when they’re launched. Consider all the types of work you handle, what cars you’re working on (if you’re a one-make specialist you won’t want information on other cars) but, most importantly, make sure you’re aren’t buying a fake. Don’t fall for any tools with a low price – it’s cheap for a reason, and that usually means it’s not the real thing.
“Don’t fall for any tools with a low price – it’s cheap for a reason, and that usually means it’s not the real thing.”
With spring just around the corner drivers could be thinking about using their car’s air conditioning. But it’s very much a forgotten part of the car, despite filters needing changing and the gas being changed or replenished. Only when the interior glass isn’t cleared almost immediately will a motorist think something’s amiss with the aircon system, and they’ll be perplexed why that’s the case, so it’ll be up to you to put things right. It’s important to have efficient, effective air conditioning testing equipment to help do any related jobs as quickly as possible.
These days it’s easy to overlook hand tools: Screwdrivers, sockets and spanners often play second fiddle to diagnostic equipment but once the fault is discovered it’s time to get the hand tools out. Most workshops favour higher-quality tools that might be more expensive to buy in the first place, but work out cheaper in the long run because of their greater service life. Remember too that the number of model-specific tools is increasing: Crowded engine bays mean more restricted access when it comes to removing the timing belt, the alternator or the starter motor. Model-specific tools are designed to overcome those problems, speeding up the job and doing it more accurately. Talk to your local member of The Parts Alliance about new tools and any offers they might be running.
Like it or not, new cars are changing more quickly than ever before, with a bewildering array of electronics taking on more and more tasks under the bonnet and the floorpan. So if a customer brings in a fairly new car with an undiagnosed malady, are you up to the job? Assuming your diagnostics’ capability is up-to-date, are you equally clued-up (and
confident) you can find the fault and put it right? That’s where training comes in, because courses from many suppliers to The Parts Alliance will keep you informed of that new technology. Courses can last from just a couple of hours to a few days, but however long they are, they’ll give you more information so you can tackle more jobs quickly, efficiently and safely.
Remember that The Parts Alliance and Associate Members, through its suppliers, offers the very best in training courses – ones that are Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) courses. Covering all aspects of a technician’s job, ATA courses are overseen by the long-established Institute of the Motor Industry. Sixteen automotive disciplines are covered and are regularly updated to take technology changes into account. To become an ATA registered technician technicians have to pass knowledge tests and practical assessments, while workshop bosses have to show their commitment to technical expertise.