When it comes to maximizing efficiency and gaining customer trust, quick inspection systems can bring both benefits to your tire dealership.
While they come in several forms depending on the manufacturer – with the ability to instantly check tire tread, vehicle alignment and more – these relatively new shop tools offer common benefits: a way to save time and pinpoint added service opportunities while providing an objective, easy-to-see diagnosis to customers.
The inspection units, which can be drive-over or handheld, read tire and vehicle data and then provide a printed report to show customers. Removed from the equation are technician error and the subjectivity of service recommendations.
“A computerized tire inspection is faster than doing a manual inspection and recording,” says Richard Koontz, senior vice president of product development for Squarerigger, maker of the Opti-Tread Tire Audit System. “Customers trust the computer more than they do a technician with a small manual tread depth gauge. This increases the confidence by the customer that the salesman is presenting the truth. This, in turn, increases sales of tires and alignments.”
Quick alignment checks, like those performed using Corghi USA’s Rapide system, save shops time and money, and deliver customer confidence, according to Pete Burgess, president and director of operations for Corghi USA.
“Doing a traditional alignment check requires the tire dealer to set up the vehicle for an alignment in order to measure it to find out if an alignment is necessary,” he explains. “The traditional alignment setup is time consuming and a waste of money if an alignment is not needed.”
Regarding customer confidence, Burgess says, “Destroying a set of tires due to a poorly aligned vehicle creates customer dissatisfaction and many times he blames the tire or the dealer for selling poor quality tires. Unfortunately, the tire dealer gets wrongly blamed and loses a customer.”
Quick inspection systems prevent this by providing a customer with a report that shows the dealer took an extra step to ensure the newly purchased tires will perform well and last a long time, Burgess adds.
When it comes to a shop’s bottom line, a quick inspection system allows a technician to easily identify needed service opportunities to increase revenue, according to Hunter Engineering’s Alan Hagerty, product manager for inspection systems.
“In less than two minutes, Hunter’s Quick Check system provides a comprehensive vehicle inspection for alignment, tire tread depth, battery health, diagnostic codes and braking balance,” he says, adding, “Six out of 10 cars on the road today are out of alignment. And alignments are one of the highest profit margin services that any tire shop can offer.
“The replacement tire market is highly competitive, but most customers will still buy tires from the first shop that clearly identifies a need for replacement. Batteries are a routine maintenance item and should be inspected regularly,” Hagerty continues. “A quick inspection – offered as a complimentary service for customers that helps educate them about the health of their vehicle – often leads to more sales and profit for the tire dealer.”
Squarerigger’s Koontz adds that the Opti-Tread’s tire audit report is a valuable selling tool, increasing the confidence of the salesman and offering a focal point for a professional discussion of the facts.
“The industry standard tire condition report occupies a limited area on a 25- or 35-point vehicle inspection report,” he explains. “The data is normally hand written and several boxes are checked, if applicable. Alternately, in some systems the mechanic hand-enters the readings, and the computer then produces a formal report. Neither produce the level of sales generated by the Opti-Tread tire audit report.”
Below are several options for inspection systems that currently are available on the market:
Hunter offers two options: Quick Tread for tire inspections and the more comprehensive Quick Check vehicle inspection system. Since system configurations vary widely, pricing information can be obtained by contacting a Hunter representative (hunter.com/contact-hunter).
Quick Tread produces a 3-D model of all four tires by driving a vehicle into the service bay. The model consists of 280,000 data points across a two-inch segment of the tire. One to six points of tread depth across the tire are automatically measured, displayed and color-coded.
The Quick Check system efficiently checks alignment, tire tread depth, battery, diagnostic codes and braking balance. The system can be configured to check one or all of the different service opportunities, and provides a customer-friendly report that can be printed and stored online. Quick Check determines alignment needs by measuring the alignment of the vehicle versus manufacturer specifications – not by tire wear alone. Patented Quick Grip Adapters have no metal-to-metal contact and can be adjusted to fit a wide range of vehicles.
Developed as part of the company’s REMO (Robotic Equipment for Measuring by Optics) system, the Corghi Rapide pre-check is a simplified application of the same touchless technology that has been on the market for five years. With a price tag of less than $20,000, Rapide doesn’t require a manual operation to affix targets to the wheels in order to take measurements. The machine takes all of its measurements using a combination of laser and sonar readings to establish if the geometry of the wheels is within manufacturer’s specifications.
Measurement acquisition time is less than 30 seconds. There also is no need to perform a rollback compensation step as part of the process.
The Opti-Tread Tire Audit System, powered by Squarerigger software, combines the function of a large alignment machine with the mobility of a handheld manual probe. The unit, priced at $3,250, consists of two pieces: a wireless, handheld quick check probe and a three-inch Bluetooth scanner. Techs insert the probe’s spring-loaded needle into the tread three times. Each time, the scanner beeps and flashes as it receives the depth and air pressure readings.
Data is recorded within one minute, after which the computer software picks up the information on the Bluetooth and a printable tire audit report is generated.