Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2010   by Tom Venetis, Editor

Getting More Out Of The Shop’s Lift

New lift features, add-ons, can improve a shop's productivity, profitability

To spin a colloquial saying, “a minute saved is a dollar earned.” In this case, every minute saved can mean hundreds of dollars in extra revenue. For today’s independent service centre, whoever can get a vehicle into the shop, up onto a lift, then down and out of the shop the fastest, results in an improved profit picture. The challenge is finding and then correctly using, the right lift with the right set of features that can help a shop achieve the duel goals of achieving improved shop efficiencies and profits.

Knowing How To Get The Most Out Of A Lift

When someone brings in a vehicle for some work, do you have the technician simply do the required work, or do you have the technician do the assigned work and examine the vehicle for other potential work that can be done? Many shops, once the vehicle is up on the lift, will only do the work that is requested by the customer: if it is an oil change that is requested, that is what is done, even if the technician notices a problem with another part of the vehicle.

What shops forget is the old adage of possession is nine-tenths of the law.

“When you are in possession of the car, you have to check for everything,” says Steve Perlstein, sales manager with Mohawk Lifts. “When you are doing a brake job, you should look for a hole in the exhaust. If you are rotating tires, you should check the shocks. When you have the vehicle you are able to productively sell your services and increase your profitability. A customer will have a hard time arguing with a hole in the exhaust or any other problem when the car is in the air and they can see the problem. The question you have to ask is what revenue opportunities are you missing by not running the car six-feet up in the lift?”

So once you have possession of the car and it is up on the lift, the question becomes what features of a lift can help improve productivity and profitability. The most obvious is lifting speed. The faster a lift can get a vehicle up and then down can mean getting more vehicles into the shop, thereby increasing revenues and profits. But what some shop owners and technicians may not be aware of is that many lift features or add-ons can be used to find profitable service work.

Perlstein points to the safety weight gauge, as one example. It is an obvious safety feature, ensuring the safe operation of the lift and the protection of the technician. But, Perlstein adds, the gauge is also a revenue and profit generator. If a vehicle owner comes in with a complaint of poor vehicle mileage, the weight gauge might be able to pinpoint the cause, such as an overloaded vehicle.

“Or if the customer complains that he is having a poor ride, I can see with the vehicle on the lift and with the gauge that the vehicle needs load levelers instead of ordinary shocks,” Perlstein adds. “Given that a shop may make 10-20 points on parts, I would rather have my 20 per cent on a pair of load levelers that costs hundred of dollars each rather than on four shocks that are $50 each. I’m still getting the same percentage; but I’m getting twice the money. If this puts $50 dollars in a shop owner’s pocket a week that is $2,500 a year, which is a lot of incremental income, just because of this simple gauge on the lift. And the guage is only about $100 dollars.”

Doug Brown, director of new product development with Rotary Lift says productivity improvements are behind the new design of Rotary’s YA12 alignment lift, or the Y-Lift as it is known.

“The big item we wanted to address was faster rise and lowering speeds, opening up the work space for the technician and increasing the range of vehicles a technician can work on,” Brown adds.

To that end, the Y-lift is said by Rotary Lift to be 33 per cent faster in its rise times and 15 per cent faster in its lowering times than other similarly configured lifts. As well, the design of the lift is made so that technicians are able to have a clear work area around and underneath the vehicle. Unlike traditional scissor lift designs, Brown says Rotary Lift made the Y-Lift so that it provides a truer up-and-down movement than a scissor lift and eliminates the side scissor arms to provide technicians with more access to the vehicle from both sides and from the front and rear of the vehicle.

“You also don’t have the side footprint of a four-post lift,” Brown says. “It is smaller. And with this lift you can do more than simply alignments. You can do oil changes, for example, and you can do them much faster than before.”

Improving shop efficiency is also behind Rotary Lift’s QL 12 quick lube four-post lift design. It features a four horsepower motor for faster lifting times and a modular design that can be customized for a shop’s layout. The lift comes with several other features to improve shop productivity, a 12,000 pound lift capacity and the ability to handle wheel bases from 182 to 206 inches, as well as placing the lifting cylinder from the top of the lift to beneath the runway in order to protect the cylinder, thereby reducing the possibility of the cylinder being damaged and putting the lift out of commission.

“A malfunctioning or failed lift erodes a shop’s credibility amongst vehicle owners who see the shop having to turn away customers,” adds Brown.

Lift arms can do much more with a bit of flexibility

One area where shop owners can look for productivity improvements in lifts are the arms. Many lift makers are now adding features and additional flexibility to lift arm configurations and makeup to help shops handle a wider range of vehicles and increase productivity times.

Take the example of Challenger Lifts’ CL10 series of two-post lifts that feature Versymmetric arms and come in three different configurations: Max Plus Productivity, Maximum Productivity and Complete Productivity. The offset Versymmetric front arms allows the two-post lift to raise vehicles symmetrically or asymmetrically inside the same service bay.

The Max Plus Productivity configuration comes with three-stage offset front arms plus three-stage rear arms which provide a wider arm sweep and better retraction and reach, meaning the arms can reach more of the recommended lifting points on a vehicle.

An advantage of the offset design in the front arms is it provides a technician with single-sweep spotting and eliminates the need to roll the vehicle back and forth to swing the arm clear of the front tire, says Mike Eaton, marketing director with Challenger Lifts. By eliminating the need for rolling the vehicle back and forth a shop’s technician can shave several minutes off of the time needed to work on a vehicle, which means more vehicles over time can be brought into the shop and worked on.

The Max Plus Productivity configuration of the CL10 lift also comes standard with Handheld Dual Pendant Power Controls which allow technicians to operate the lift around knee level for an unobstructed view to lifting points when spotting vehicles, providing maximum shop productivity.



Challenger Lifts

Mohawk Lifts

Rotary Lifts

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