Why Dyno?

Apr 29, 2010

It may go against conventional wisdom to consider a relatively large purchase such as a dynamometer in what many observers consider to be a still-struggling economy.

But dyno manufacturers are here to tell you that, if you’re serious about the long-term health of your performance business, now just might be the perfect time to buy.

“It’s important to differentiate your business, products and services from your competition. This is even more imperative in a down economy, because buyers tend to be more discriminating,” notes Matt Schultz, sales and product manager for Stuska Dynamometers, Sussex, Wis. “If you have a dyno and your competition doesn’t, you are more likely to gain their business and remain strong. Maybe your competitor already has a dyno and you are losing some business for that reason.”

It’s a reality that in this day and age, cost must be considered almost immediately when contemplating a big investment. And when it comes to price and/or financing, dyno makers believe their products offer some of the best value the market has seen in a while.

“In most cases, prices have not gone up on the dynamometers, and in fact some prices have actually gone down,” says Steve Matthiesen, VP sales and marketing for SuperFlow Technologies, Des Moines, Iowa. “However, we are seeing some pressure from our suppliers, because they are raising their prices, and at some point this will have to be passed on to the customer. It makes sense to buy now and take advantage of the all-time lows in financing and dynamometer pricing.”

And while financing can be more difficult to obtain than in years past, for those that qualify, attractive rates are certainly available.

Dyno Dynamics

Whether striking out on your own or upgrading an existing business, providing dyno services can offer your company added benefits and a way to set yourself apart.

“For a serious performance shop, it is more imperative now than ever to own a dyno,” says Steve Engelman, director of marketing for Mustang Dynamometer, Twinsburg, Ohio. “Not only does owning a dyno add credibility to a shop, it adds significant advanced tuning capabilities that are unavailable without a dyno. Owning any dyno has the obvious advantage of allowing a shop to quantify power gains that they generate for customers.”

Of course, each shop owner must first decide what dyno is best for his company, taking into account the variety of engine and chassis dyno configurations available, including above-ground, pit and test cell setups for a variety of vehicle types.

“Because of the downturn in the economy, we are finding that people who have been laid off or furloughed are now looking at starting their own business,” says Allison Blackstein, director of sales and marketing for Dynocom Industries, Fort Worth, Texas. “The most common question is really about selecting the right model for the customer’s application. In some cases it’s an obvious choice-the customer wants to dyno Subarus, therefore they need an AWD dyno. But the tricky part is when customers work on a range of different vehicles-diesel trucks, street cars, drag cars, imports, etc.-and they don’t know from day to day what vehicle will come through their door. These customers have to select a dyno that is versatile and expandable for future upgrades.”

Understanding your dyno needs will help you select the unit that offers the best return on investment, something everyone wants on a purchase of this magnitude.

“Among the top concerns for shops looking to purchase their first dyno is, ‘Will the dyno pay for itself?'” Shultz says. “Most first-time buyers believe that owning a dyno will increase their business. What they are typically surprised at is the amount of new business they gain. A dyno should not only pay for itself, but be a profit center for your business.”

With that understanding, shops should consider the long-term effects of becoming a proud dyno owner.

“It seems like lot of people buy on upfront price rather than the cost of ownership,” Matthiesen explains. “It is just like buying a car; you pretty much get what you pay for.”

Change for the Better

The physical setup is only part of the equation when it comes to making changes to accommodate a new dyno. A shop’s overall business plan, as well as its reliance on knowledgeable employees, should also be adjusted to take full advantage of the new equipment.

“A shop needs to make the dyno part of its everyday business,” Engelman says. “Make sure you have knowledgeable operators running the dyno. One of the biggest mistakes a shop can make is not having enough knowledgeable operators. A dyno cannot generate you money when it isn’t being utilized.”

Most major dyno suppliers offer training to help employees get up to speed.

“The most important step is training,” Blackstein says. “The more you know about how best to run your dyno, the more successful and profitable you will be. Shops need to listen to the manufacturers on best practices for dyno-ing vehicles.”

Matthiesen notes there is a lot of what he calls “bad information” floating around on the Internet that can lead to incorrect thinking regarding dynos, their capabilities and their usefulness.

“There is an educational process that goes hand-in-hand with the success of the dynamometer,” he says. “A lot of customers have a preconceived notion of what the dyno should tell them. The best advice that I can give is that the dyno operator needs to really understand all the variables that will influence the power numbers.”

Once a shop decides to install a new dyno, the suppliers say it should immediately become a focal point of the business.

“Most shops don’t change enough to reap the full benefits of owning a dyno. As a general statement, the dyno needs to be incorporated into the business and your business plan,” Schultz says. “Dyno every engine, sell dyno services to other shops or race teams, and work the dyno into a marketing campaign. Use the dyno as a showpiece or an attention-grabber. Many shops will have an open house or customer appreciation day and have an engine running on the dyno. Nothing sells engines in the offseason like the smell of burned race fuel and the sound of an engine accelerating under load!”

Dyno Days

It seems that showing off is an integral part of optimizing a dyno’s earning potential. Many shops invite customers to come in and test-run their vehicles or engines on what is called a Dyno Day-a practice many of the dyno providers wholeheartedly support.

“The obvious first step and most common (after purchasing a dyno) is a Dyno Day with a local car club,” says Dynocom’s Blackstein. “Organizing a group of cars with two to three pulls for $60 is a great way to get some quick cash. If 15 cars at $60 each is $900, that’s a month’s payment (on a dyno) for one day!”

Other ideas for making money with a new dyno include creating tuning packages incorporating dyno testing, and free dyno runs with a certain number of dollars spent on parts, she adds.

Mustang’s Engelman notes that Dyno Days and other events are an important part of getting the word out about a new dyno.

“Make sure that people know you have that shiny new dyno,” he suggests. “People will come from hundreds of miles away to get service on a dyno. If your company has a website, add information about the dyno to it. Marketing your dyno is key. Once the word starts to spread, it gets around like wildfire.”

Stuska’s Schultz recommends integrating dyno tests into every project.

“Dyno every engine before it leaves your shop, whether it’s new or a rebuild, and incorporate the fee into the package price,” he advises. “Don’t be afraid to charge a fair price. In the long run, this will make you more money, and increase quality and customer satisfaction. It’s also important to be proactive and sell dyno time to other shops in your area that have a need.”

SuperFlow’s Matthiesen even suggests looking outside the traditional performance market to find additional dyno work.

“Most states require a dynamometer test for diesel vehicles, and these tests can be $50-$65 each and only last a few minutes,” he says. “We have some customers that the only use their dyno ever sees is for the diesel emissions test. They are busy every day of the week and you have to make an appointment to get the test done. They make their monthly lease payment in one day using the dyno.”

A Lot to Offer

So, if your business is in it for the long haul, dyno manufacturers say this just might be the time to go ahead and make a dyno purchase.

“By having purchased the dynamometer now, becoming familiar with it and establishing a loyal following of customers, you will be better positioned to take advantage of new opportunities,” Matthiesen says. “It adds instant credibility and confidence to your business. Customers will pay more if they know the job is done correctly and you have the proof to hand them.”

If business is slow right now, Schultz notes, it might allow a shop more time to dedicate to a new dyno install and the training that goes along with it.

“Once business picks up, I can guarantee that many of you will find it difficult to find the time for these activities,” he notes. “Plus, is there another piece of equipment in your shop you would have more fun with?”

Finally, Engelman explains how dynos can take the place of “road tests” that require technicians to take vehicles out on public streets.

“Owning a dyno helps a shop mitigate these risks and often results in significant savings,” he says. “Once it becomes a routine part of your everyday business, you will wonder how you ever carried on business without it.”