Here’s something you already know: Equipping a body shop is expensive. Of course opening a new shop involves a lot of startup costs, but even maintaining the equipment for an established business adds up. Especially when it comes to keeping up with changes in the auto industry. It can seem like a never-ending (costly) battle, but thankfully, there are ways to cope.
Make a Plan
As with most big expenses, it makes financial sense to plan ahead when buying equipment. In a lot of shops, there’s only room in the budget for one or two major purchases a year. If you’re working to update your equipment to handle aluminum or know there’s more than one item you need to replace or add, sit down and make a plan. Which tools do you need ASAP and which ones can wait? Laying it out ahead of time will keep you from making emotional decisions based on limited time offers or sales.
After you’ve made your list, prioritize by asking some important questions:
- Is there a safety issue? If the answer is yes, move this up the list pronto.
- Will this increase efficiency? The initial price tag on a piece of equipment can seem overwhelming, but also consider how it will improve your business. If it will improve cycle times, you’ll recoup those costs.
- Will it help expand my business? Along the same lines, if a big purchase will enable your techs to work with more and different kinds of vehicles, like aluminum, you’ll benefit from the investment.
Stick to your plan when you can, but also allow for some flexibility. If something is broken beyond repair or you see a chance for expansion, don’t be afraid to shift things around. The key is to be careful and measured, not rigid.
Use a Single Source Provider
If you look at your list and see that you need to buy several body shop tools, consider working with one equipment provider for multiple items. Often, they’ll offer discounts if you buy more than one item with them. Consider your needs and think about which ones you could group and buy together. Then work with your sales rep to see if there are discounts you can take advantage of.
Research Your Purchases
With list and hand (and before it’s crunch time), do some research. Which product or manufacturer can provide the most value for your shop? It’s not always the cheapest one. Considering the amount of money going into it, this truly is an investment. Make sure you go with equipment that will stand the test of time and help you complete repair jobs and keep the cash flowing.
Another thing to consider is ease of use. After all, if your techs are spending all their time trying to figure out how to use equipment, using it incorrectly or avoiding it, those efficiencies you introduced by buying new tools will be lost completely. Make sure you choose equipment that’s intuitive to use.
Maintaining your equipment can feel like a big job – and it is! But it doesn’t have to be an impossible, or impossibly expensive task.