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Yes I do, and several people, my tax lady, accountant and my wife have said that I am paying my techs too much. My response is this, my people are loyal, dedicated and even tempered, which cuts down on my stress level and puts my customers at ease. My people are salaried and I use them where they are most efficient and comfortable, but I can use my diagnostic guy to do an oil change when in a bind or when we have a new customer that thinks his Audi is special and needs to be coddled. I also don't have to worry about techs over selling parts to make a bigger paycheck or cutting corners to save some time. I have been paying this way for several years now and only hire the best qualified people and they realize they have a good solid company to work for. In the winter I may be paying alittle more in wages, but here in Arizona we have long summers which is very busy and most profitable for my shop. It's also nice knowing how much payroll is any given week of the year. I have thought about flat rate and have been paid flat rate myself, and yes I have complained that I didn't get my .3 for changing a caravan air filter, or the .2 for changing a tag light bulb. I dislike tick tack complaining and whining that the other guy gets all the gravy brake jobs and somebody else gets all the alignments, whaa whaaa whaa. Hire good people, pay them what they are worth and they will work for you forever and not complain about staying a little late sometimes or even work a Saturday to make up for a day they want off during the week.

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  • 2 months later...

I started off paying flat rate as my previous experiences as a tech all paid flat rate. I actually would prefer to be paid flat rate vs. hourly or salary as a tech. It gave me more control over how much I made. It was never a problem if I wanted to put in 40 or 60 or 80 hours a week because there was no overtime costs to the company. If I wanted to make more, I worked more. My struggle as a shop owner paying flat rate was one week my tech would have a great pay check, the next week he might have 4 big jobs partially done and waiting for parts or machine shops or whatever, and only a few hours worth of jobs completed. He worked all week and still has a small paycheck. I went through that before as a tech, and didn't mind because that was the nature of the business and I planned for it. I knew I'd have an even bigger than normal check next week. The other problem I had especially in the summer is the actual hours they would be at the shop working. As flat rate, they figured if it was nice out and they'd rather be fishing, that should be fine. I'm not paying them to just be here. It's a valid point that I never considered when I was turning wrenches because I always have been somewhat of a workaholic. My flat rate pay was higher than local dealers are paying their top techs.


So starting this week, I implemented a new pay structure. I'm going to try paying a base pay hourly with a commission on labor. My thought is this should motivate them to be here as well as produce hours. I'm down to 1 tech and myself working and so far this isn't working out well. It's Friday afternoon and he's been here 18 1/2 hours this week. Planned ahead to be gone Friday and through the weekend, but was late Monday, gone 2 more hours Monday during the middle of the day for "personal reasons". Had one full day on Tuesday, which was the only day he produced any completed jobs. Called in Wednesday morning that he couldn't come in cause a relative had to go to the hospital. Thursday morning he get's here and informs me that it wasn't anything serious with the relative and they were only at the hospital a couple hours and then informs me he has to leave at noon cause of the 4 hour drive he has to make to get to the wedding in Wisconsin that is on Saturday and the reason he requested Friday off. All in all he was here 18 hours, and only booked 3.6 hours of work all week. I had to complete the jobs he was scheduled for all week long cause of customers needs and ended up working till 11:30 last night and back to work at 5 this morning in order to get a vehicle back to a customer when they needed it.


Are there any techs left with any sort of work ethics? And if so and they are working for you, please lay them off and give them my number.

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I pay all my employees a salary plus a percentage of the total sales of the business. This gives them stability, incentive to produce, to work as a team and to do quality work. It has been a little painful for me the last few years as sales have dropped, but over the last 25 years I have not had many employees quit and I have heard many times about the great attitudes of my employees and how well they all work together. Like we tell our customers, quality is not cheap.



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Love this topic.


We value our employees at the same level as our customers and try to have that show through their pay. It's been rocky trying to figure out what will work and still looking for solutions so Im glad I now have a forum of people that are going through this!


Initially, they were paid commission only. But as others said here, it is so up and down, esp when big project cars come in. I can understand the feeling of working hard all week but seeing a low paycheck (even though they'll see it on the next). And also, they keep the shop clean and talk to customers, etc.


So, we started paying them hourly base + bonus (if they do a certain amount of hours working on a car, they start earning a larger commission per hr worked). Adding the hourly base helped in terms of making it a little more stable, but its still rough. We are thinking of removing that threshold # of hours to start earning the bonus. Salary is definitely in the future though.

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I think I can relate a bit on your situation. We used to work on a good amount of project cars in the past. Depending on what your work mix is you may want to have different technicians on different pay scales. What I mean by this is I am assuming you have a mix of regular work and project work. You may be want to delegate most of the regular service work to one technician whom would then be paid on a flat rate (commission by hours produced) or a small base salary with a commission. The techs who have to work on long projects I would suggest some sort of salary with incentive for more production. These are just some suggestions for you. It can be tough when you don't have a measurable work load at times and I know project cars are very very hard to project accurate timing and pricing.

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I think I can relate a bit on your situation. We used to work on a good amount of project cars in the past. Depending on what your work mix is you may want to have different technicians on different pay scales. What I mean by this is I am assuming you have a mix of regular work and project work. You may be want to delegate most of the regular service work to one technician whom would then be paid on a flat rate (commission by hours produced) or a small base salary with a commission. The techs who have to work on long projects I would suggest some sort of salary with incentive for more production. These are just some suggestions for you. It can be tough when you don't have a measurable work load at times and I know project cars are very very hard to project accurate timing and pricing.


This is great advice. I have thought about different pays according to what we think will motivate them more (its true in our shop that every tech is motivated very differently) But I didnt think about considering what type of work they usually do (basic alignment/oil change vs big projects) and how we can assign it more strategically to make sense for all of us. Will definitely discuss these suggestions with the boss. Thanks so much!

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In our growth with ATI, we have invested the most time and energy on tech and service writer pay plans and it has paid off immensely. We have a safety net weekly pay that increases with tech productivity and profitability from SA performance. An important aspect is that tech overtime is covered in the event of a wage/hour complaint. We are currently "killin' it" as they say and our techs and writers are making great money as a result. All I can say is get coaching. The best athletes in the world all have coaches - shouldn't you?

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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