Tech Stuff

Specialty services: Add-on revenue producers

In addition to the daily repair workload required to address customer repair and drivability concerns, there is a host of “additional services” that you’re able to provide, things that you may not have previously considered.

Powder coating offers certain customers with a surface treatment that’s both durable and, depending on the customer’s needs, visually appealing as well.

Powder coating is a dry “powder” paint that’s applied with an electrostatic cling and then baked. The baking process causes the powdered paint to melt and flow, resulting in a hard finish that withstands most solvents. I know what you’re probably thinking at this point — you don’t build custom street rods, so why would you consider powder coating? Granted, powder coating is popular for dressing-up brake calipers, suspension parts, frames, etc., but this technology is also very suitable for commercial/heavy-duty customers who want a tough, long-lasting finish on various items such as snow plow hardware, steel wheels, fuel tanks, ladder racks, etc. Consider getting hooked up with a local powder coating shop in your area.

You’ll be able to offer the service to existing customers, farm out the work and make a buck or two in the process.

An appearance treatment called water transfer printing or hydro-graphics (this process goes by several names) allows graphic treatment to any non-porous surface to make a component look like wood, carbon fiber, etc., including creating a camouflage look (there are hundreds of choices).

This process involves prepping the part (cleaning and priming) and “dipping” the piece through an ink film that rests on the surface water in a dedicated tank. It’s akin to dipping an Easter egg. The film wraps and clings to the surface. The item is then removed from the water, dried, and then clear coated in urethane. The possibilities are wide ranging, from customers who want their interior trim areas treated, to achieving a new and different look for their wheels, grilles, door mirror housings, etc. Again, you can establish a relationship with a hydro-graphics shop, farm out the customer’s pieces, reinstall them to the customer’s vehicle and make a buck (marking up the graphic job and charging for the R&R of the parts).

For commercial customers who run a fleet of vehicles, it may be desirable for them to “label” various components in order to track service life. In addition to using permanent markers or stick-on labels, certain applications may lend themselves to laser etching or CNC engraving, both of which are permanent marks that will hold up against the test of time and environment. Again, you can connect with a local CNC shop for this out-of-house work, with the customer billing it all through you (middle-man markup at its best).

Another potential money-maker and valuable service for your customers are specialty functional coatings. This can apply to both commercial customers and customers who are hobbyists and/or racers. A range of specialty coatings, to name but two, are available that address issues of both heat and frictional wear. Ceramic coatings (thermal barrier coatings) can benefit any engine that features a turbocharger. This coating (applied to turbo housings, turbo feed and exhaust tubing, etc.) reduces underhood heat while increasing efficiency.

Thermal barrier coatings have many other applications, but I’m citing turbos as but one example. Anti-friction coating (generally moly/graphite or Teflon-based), depending on the application, provides a superior oil film retention and can serve as a back-up/fail-safe lubricity coating for momentarily oil-starved engine components, drive-gears, etc. The specialty coating field is far-reaching, with a host of various materials and applications. Once again, this is a service that you can easily farm out while the money flows directly into your register.

The services I’ve mentioned here are merely examples. The point I’m trying to make is that, given the application and/or customer request, you’re not limited to what’s available only through your current parts suppliers.

I know that it’s a trite and over-used urban-yuppie term, but sometimes “thinking outside the box” can make you stand out in the minds of your customers (and those referrals that result from customer word-of-mouth).

Just a thought.   ●

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