Flat rate system

to the working techs out there. What do you think about the flat rate system? Would you rather work by the hour? Do you yhink the hours (time spent at work) would be less? Would you earn less? less stress? is the system fair to the public? Is you dispatcher fair? Do you work in a bumper to bumper shop? Would a union make everyone happier. What happens when you get old a cant work as fast. Boy those truck tires are sure feeling heavier and it sure is harder to climb up on the alignment rack. Any consideration to changing to service advisor? Do techs make good service advisors?

I cant,complain about the past,and NO we do not make for good advisors.(SEEN WAY TOO MUCH,AND NUMB,we truley do not care) thats the down side.ME personally,will never work by the hour,NEVER.

seems the older we get the less we care,and it is not good,but we will never sell more than is needed .we will not rip people off,we just do not go beyond the repair order.

Just to address a couple of your questions I think the flat rate system is a toss-up. It has good and bad points for both the mechanic and the car owner.
The good is that it encourages someone not to slack off and get the work done. It rewards competent productivity and a healthy flat rate week is good for the morale, and the bank account. The bad is that it can encourage a crook to cut corners or cause problems due to the job being rushed. Excessive speed can promote mistakes.

I’ve done the service advisor bit a little and JMHO, but I wished all service advisors and service managers had X years in as a tech. Most are mechanically illiterate and this causes problems because these people are the middlemen between the techs and the car owners. What is related to the car owner about their problem may not bear any resemblance to what the tech has told the service advisor.
It helps greatly if a serv. adv. or man. actually knows how a spark plug works. I’ve worked with a few very competent, mechanically minded SAs and SMs and many problems are eliminated before it even has a chance to start.

Unfortunately, the majority are clueless (mechanically speaking) and it can be pure hxxx as a tech to deal with them.
Good example is our local Chrysler dealership. Family operated, etc. and the owner’s wife is the service manager.(ouch)
The story in the newspaper quoted her husband as saying that “she doesn’t know much about cars but she knows how to work people”.
Sorry, but if my vehicle is broken I want to know why, how much, when, and skip the psychoanalysis.

I used to work for a small town dealer whose wife was the parts/service manager and she was an absolute joke. She liked to think she was far smarter than any customer or mechanic and relied on her “wits and shrewd way with words” according to her to BS her way through the obvious or pass the buck. Her methods cost the company a decent chunk of money each month but since she’s married to the owner…

well said.

Wow, questions that are almost word for word what I am thinking.

I am faced today, right now, with either going flat rate or being forced to quit. I worked flat rate, at dealership levels for over 15 years and am well versed in all the bull it involves, from cut warranty times, to being expected to work for free, to favoratizm, to , well I am sure you know all these things. anyway, I am 41 years old, there is no_way that I can possibly keep up with these young guys today that don’t care a lick about the repair, and just want to make the dolla bill.

here is a website that pretty much sums up my feelings on this whole scenario. www.normantaylor.com/mechanics_flat_rate_pay_system.html The one sentence that does sorely ring true to me is. The technician is rewarded for how fast he or she works, not how well. this in a nutshell is the whole problem with the system. if there were some rewards for having the lowest comback ratio incorparated into the system, along with clear guidelines that defined what a comback is, I may give flat rate another look. But as it is, I guess …well, I guess I am out of a job, as I am tired of employers thinking that this is a normal way to work. it isnt. A person who works for an hour deserves to be paid for that hour. Flat rate is fine when it is busy but what about when it is slow? they are offering NO garentee at all. I guess I will take all my training and skill and go to the local corner garage and not have to deal with warrqanty at all…yea! that would be excellent.

At any rate, flat rate suks. There is way too much evidence pointing out the faults and flaws it has, the only reason anybody likes it is MONEY MONEY MONEY, and if that is what you care about, then any words that the flate rate supporter responds with will just add wieght to the belief that the public holds, that we are all crooks and thieves. I for one think I am done with this crazy game.

EDIT: I should have added that I was working a a hourly employee for the last 4.5 years.

Personally, I prefer to work on the flat rate system but I do agree with just about all of your points. The physical part of turning wrenches under this system is not what fries you; it’s the mentral stress of beating your brain to death trying to solve one aggravating car problem after another and the additional stress of hearing that clock ticking away.

Warranty labor times are beyond being called a joke. It’s absolutely obscene. One of my favorite examples of this, and which I’ve mentioned on this board, is Subaru allowing .2 of an hour to COMPLETELY reseal an A/C system with .5 an hour being given for evacuation, recharging, and leak checking.
I do not know one tech who has ever lived who can perform that reseal job in 12 minutes flat nor do I know one who can perform the evac. and recharge in .5 an hour; especially considering the recommendation under those terms is to pull a vacuum for a minimum of half an hour.
The only warranty times I can tolerate is VW’s. They are more than fair and thorough.

You’re exactly right about the comebacks because far too many service managers and dealers prefer to blame the mechanic when the problem is often the vehicle owner. We had a service advisor one time who gave an appropriate 300 dollar estimate on several repairs. The total bill came to 300.14.
The customer went ballistic over that 14 cents and our spinless service manager pacified the car owner by giving him 100.14 back on the job, which made it a losing deal for the shop. This fool of a SM followed it up by claiming this was a “comeback” and tried to dock the tech’s paycheck for that 100 bucks.

If the guy wants to whine about missing an estimate by a lousy 14 cents then fine, give him the 14 cents back if you must but not a 100 dollars. (Note: the orig. 300 estimate was actually figured about 20 bucks over but the car owner decided he absolutely, positively, had to have a part overnight and the additional shipping charge is what pushed it over by 14 cents).

A friend of my wife is married to a master mechanic, who worked on Jags, Rolls Royces, etc. He was also very fast, and made a tidy wage with the flat rate system, by beating the time and splitting it with the company.

As a consumer, I have mixed feelings about it. I had a starter fixed on a Ford once, and this unusual model had no listed flat rate, as a result the dealer charged over $100 dollars for replacing it in 1980. On the other hand, a slow mechanic working on flat rate will save the car owner money. I usually go to the library anc copy all the flat rate info for my cars. when going in for repairs I already ahve some idea what the labor will be.

Flat Rate sounds like Democracy. Except for all of the other forms of government (auto repair charge techniques), it’s the worst that there is.

Flat Rate can keep you from being overcharged by a learning mechanic. The bonus to other mechanics who can beat the flat rate is the other side of the situation. My take is that the flat rate is a response to very high repair costs for occasional troublesome repairs that cause extreme anguish among car repair people and customers. Know the meaning of "Build the Ticket.

I must ask what is “Build the Ticket”?


About 1980 shop rates, in this area anyway, were about 25-30 dollars per flat rate hour so that 100 dollars could translate to 3-4 hours labor. Most Ford starters do not require anywhere near this much time, but it could have been about right if the model is unusual enough.

Funny thing. I was rummaging through some old paperwork a while back and ran across a copy of a repair order where I had the clutch replaced in my 68 Plymouth Roadrunner (circa 1970). The clutch was going, I was on crutches from a major knee surgery, and so I paid the dealer to do this job for me.
They hit me for 3 flat rate hours @ 7.00 per hour for a total of 21 dollars labor and a little less than 30 bucks on a clutch kit! How things change.

Maybe it means loading up the repair order with unneeded repairs? Didnt think of that one. A shop doesnt need to be a flat rate shop for this to happen.

In my efforts be fair with both customers and mechanics I set a base pay, i.e., a weekly salary that was equal to the average local income. At the end of the month flat rate is figured, and the difference in base and flat rate was paid as a bonus. It seems to work well. Of course, good mechanics are difficult to find.

When I beat warranty or customer pay time the last thing i did with the money is “split it with the company” and the company never expected me to. Maybe I am reading your post not as you intended. How does a slow mechanic workinf on flat rate save the customer money? Are you saying that a mechanic working fast will break something lie about it and his garage will charge the customer. It doesnt matter if the mechanic is fast or slow the customer pays the same. Or did your shop have two rates one if you used the fast mechanic and one if you used the slow one?

I remember reading an article in a trade publication many years ago in which a Ford dealer up north was referenced as paying all of his techs a guaranteed per hour wage. It seems like the dealership was run by a pair of brothers who were actually service oriented (now THAT’s a rarity) and actually involved themselves in the service end of things.

They hired and kept good techs, paid them a good hourly wage, and stated that things ran smoothly because the flat rate pressure was removed. Kind of like removing that Sword of Damocles dangling there all of the time.
As to any tech who turns out to be a slackard and coffee pot vulture, those guys are very easily picked out and eliminated.

Just curious how did you determine the average local income (just the income for techs or was the burger joint figured in) Your local Department of Economic Security office can supply you with earning figures by average. I think you will have to specify what occupation you are requesting the figures for

A slow hourly mechanic will cost the customer more than a flat-rate job done in any amount of time, so you “save” the money you would have had to pay for the extra labor if the job runs long.

Let’s say that labor costs $50/hour. If a job should take 1 hour by the book, then the flat rate would cost you $50. If the hourly mechanic is slow and takes 2 hours, that job just cost the customer $100 instead. If that same mechanic is flat-rate and takes 2 hours, it still only costs $50, so you “save” $50.

Had to read Docnicks post a few times to be sure I didnt miss something. He states “a slow mechanic working on flat rate will save the car owner money” The customer has been told the labor time he will be charged (hence the name flat rate) it doesnt matter to the customer if the mechanic is slow or fast the customer will only pay the time he was quoted. Your example is for a hourly mechanic. An it assumes that the garage will charge 2hrs for a flat rate job quoted at 1hr simply because the mechanic was slow. The customer was quoted at 1hr labor thats all he should pay slow mechanic or fast mechanic

I know my example was for hourly. That was the entire point.