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VREX-FIRETRUCK_HDR2.pngIf you’re like most people, you like new beginnings. They give you a chance to forget the past and feel like you have a fresh start. And there’s no fresher start than New Year’s—for you and your shop. You’re probably making a few resolutions to get into better shape. You should do the same for your shop. And there’s no better way to get your shop in better shape than with new equipment.

When it comes to new equipment, you should first ask yourself two questions: Do you really need it? And if so, what kind of equipment do you need? We’re here to walk you through the best way to answer both with several more questions.

What’s the state of your current equipment? How’s it holding up—physically and in terms of your business? The only way to find out is to do an audit on both your equipment and your revenue. At the beginning of the year, do a thorough walk-through of every inch of your shop. Pay close attention to the wear and tear on your equipment. You may find that you need to replace something as simple as a bolt or two. You may discover that it’s time to make a major upgrade. Or, if you keep your equipment well-maintained throughout the year, there’s a good chance you’ll find your current equipment is in good shape.

Now take a look at your equipment through the lens of your overall business. Are you losing business because a piece of equipment isn’t the most advanced available or it no longer matches an OEM’s specs? Then it’s time for an upgrade or replacement. It’s that simple.

How’s business? If your year-over-year business is flat or down, then you either really need new equipment (because your current equipment is out of date), or you don’t need new equipment at all (because you first need to focus on increasing business). But what if you’re crushing it in the new-business department? Then you need to ask yourself another question: Could you expand your business within your same floor plan? That’s not an easy question to answer, but it’s certainly one worth asking. By maximizing your current floor plan, you may be able to open another bay for a specific type of high-volume work. And that work will probably require new equipment.

Are you servicing a high volume of newer model vehicles? OEMs are adding new technology to their new models at an unprecedented rate. There are new advancements every year. Sometimes, that affects electronics. Sometimes, that affects a vehicle’s structural components (like the introduction of high-strength steels and aluminum). Either way, it affects you and your equipment if you want to keep up with the manufacturers. If you’re losing revenue streams as a result of outdated equipment, it’s time to consider upgrading.

Can your techs keep up? Because there’s so much new technology rolling through your bay doors, your techs might not be able to afford the necessary equipment upgrades for their toolboxes. You might want to consider a tool program for them. There are many ways to set this up, but one of the most common is to offer your techs credits for their new purchases. Each tech gets a certain dollar amount of credits each year and is reimbursed from those credits when a new purchase is made.

Are you thinking outside of the box? When you think of possible new equipment, don’t limit yourself to tech tools and larger equipment, like the time-tested, shop-approved equipment from your favorite manufacturer. Don’t forget about “equipment” that can enhance your customer experience. Larger shops have begun to install video screens in their customer waiting areas that show real-time updates on diagnostics and service. And while that might be out of reach for you, there are numerous software programs that allow you to keep your customers updated on service via email or text. You can even use tablets to take photos or video of areas of concern with the vehicle to bring the inside of your shop to your customer, since it won’t work the other way around. Whether it’s consumer technology repurposed for your shop or smaller-scale technology like CRM software, do whatever you can to enhance the customer experience and build their trust—because that’s always money well spent.