Equipment saves time, accuracy and health.
Four years ago, Darren Pierce installed a Hunter Revolution tire changer in both his Mr. Lube shops.
Now, he can’t imagine doing business without it. “It changes tires in about two minutes and 20 seconds from start to finish,” says Pierce, the owner of two Mr. Lube locations in Kelowna. “The tire profile doesn’t matter. You can change a tire without damaging anything. There’s no human error.”
With TPMS, different rim types, and metals, techs need to be experts to change tires without damaging the customer’s property. But the Revolution does it all without touching the rim face. And techs can be trained to use it in about half an hour.
Pierce considers the Revolution like an employee. “But it never calls in sick, it doesn’t get tired,” he says. In fact, it saves about 95 percent on labour.
His techs like it because it’s easy to use. One can start a tire on the Revolution, and use the Walkaway feature to do another task. “That same guy who would be changing the tires is now able to balance the tire,” says Pierce. “It speeds up your service time if you have your shop set up properly since it increases productivity.”
Customers like it, too, and often ask about the big machine near the door. “A lot of people will stand and watch you use it,” chuckles Pierce.
He also says it contributes to employee retention. “You can make someone feel very accomplished in a day of training by letting them use the Revolution machine, and teaching them how to set it up quickly,” says Pierce. “When you have a machine like this, it’s top of the line. Your staff is more invested, it’s like driving a Cadillac versus a GMC.”
Over in Brockville, when Ashton Selleck added an OK Tire store to the family business, he knew he was going to need tire machines. His first purchase was a Road Force tire balancer. “It’s the highest-end model they have,” says the general manager of Selleck OK Tire, it does anything from light-duty all the way up to commercial truck tires – steer tires, drive tires, trailer tires. Which is more our focus, since we’re a commercially driven shop.”
He also bought another Hunter piece, a heavy-duty tire changer, which works the same as a light-duty tire changer but takes on big 11r22.5 truck tires. “We’re a mechanical shop, and you don’t get tire mechanics changing tires,” says Selleck. “So we got the machine, and our guys learned how to use it.”
The machine has paid dividends, not just because of the mechanics, but the tire techs as well. “It saves their backs, they’re not outbarring up to 30 tires a day, you have a machine that does it for you,” says Selleck. “It’s a lot safer too.”
A Hunter fully automatic tire changer for light-duty passenger tires has now joined the shop as well. “It’s completely automatic,” says Selleck. “It makes the process easier and opens the playing field for more technicians and employees to change tires.” He also appreciates the safety aspect, as the clamping system is very safe compared to a conventional turn-style table tire changer.
The biggest return comes from the balancer; every tire that comes into the shop goes onto the balancer, whether it’s light-duty or heavy-duty. “It’s definitely the best bang for your buck.”
The family mechanical welding and fabrication business has a fleet of 30 vehicles, and was using generic, lower end tire changers and tire balancers for the fleet’s light-duty tires. “That’s when our business started taking off and we bought this higher end Hunter balancer,” says Selleck. The techs like the fact that it’s user-friendly and does everything for them. “Now that we have the employees and the products behind us, we can make investments that will help us grow the business.”
System saves time
But it’s a direct appointment online booking system that’s making a difference at Fountain Tire in Chilliwack. “It’s taken a fair load off the front counter guys,” says Wally Smith, Owner/Manager. “In the past, the customer’s request for an appointment would come through as an email, and we’d have to do a lot of back and forth. It took a lot of time.”
Now, the customer can book in real-time, picking and choosing the appointments convenient for them, and even pick tires. That activity will be forwarded to a work order and flagged. “We check the appointment, if there’s anything they require, something doesn’t look right, we can contact the customer and make sure they’re getting the right product,” says Smith. “Sometimes they need a bit of help making those decisions.”
He estimates the system is saving anywhere from 20 minutes to half an hour per customer. “This morning, I came in and had three customers already booked, without having to do anything,” says Smith.
Customers had been requesting the ability to book appointments and do more online, to save time on their end. “This week we’ve sold at least four sets of tires through that online system,” says Smith. “If they have the proper vehicle information, the system pulls up the proper size and load ratings, it works amazingly well.”
Fountain Tire set up all the training, providing multiple time slots so staff could do it on their own time. “The learning curve was minimal,” says Smith. “The front counter staff had it down pat in half an hour.”
His counter staff like the system because it frees up their time. “They can concentrate on the customer in front of them at the counter.”
Facts in print
Installing a Hunter Quick Check machine at Charles Turcotte et Fils, a Point S shop in Trois-Rivières has been made a difference to the shop and customers alike. “It’s like a drive-through,” says Joanie Morin, Executive Assistant at Charles Turcotte et Fils. “It takes about two and a half minutes to get information about the vehicle’s battery, tread depth and alignment.”
The machine generates a report, which can be relayed to the customer. “It’s so easy to use,” says Morin. “Customers can see the real facts in print about their vehicle.”
As a result, most customers give the go-ahead for the required service right away. “Now we’re seeing a return on our investment,” says Morin. Everyone can use it, from seasoned tire techs to new employees.
Although Charles Turcotte Et Fils has four locations, only one has the Hunter Quick Check. “Some customers who have gone to the shop with the Quick Check ask for it at the shops that don’t have it. Sometimes, they’re a little disappointed!”