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Time to get organized

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Hi all, I have been a member for a while but not really involved. My business has been struggling for a while, I have recently taken a 2 day business success class which while it did give some direction it also left me with a whole lotta questions. I am ready for change and determined to get my numbers up, here's what I have so far


Let me start with a little background. I own a specialty shop that caters to the transportation industry (Limousines, bus's). We have a regular mechanical department that handles all of the standard day to day type repairs which I have a pretty good idea on how to manage. We have always done custom work such as interior fabrication and the like but on a very small scale. We hired a new tech to work in this area and want to grow it, here's where I get stuck


I have never tracked my numbers and after taking this class I have finally realized that this is a big mistake. I use a business program called Big Business which is really like a very powerful, customizable version of quick books. I use Identafix for mechanical estimates and shop information.


1. how are you tracking tech hours? I idea at this point is to create a labor line item for each tech so that I can do report and monitor productivity. This however does not track actual hours worked just what was billed.


2. how do you track hours worked for a service such as an oil change, I'm thinking that would pay about .3 hours but don't really want to show a labor charge on the invoice but if I don't then I don't see how I can track it, this goes for all services.


3. On the custom work side it only gets worse. Generally I hand calculate materials and labor the best I can but when invoiced it would be very general such as new seat covers installed and a $ amount, I find that the more information on the invoice, the more questions it raises. Having an agreed $ amount for the job seems pretty standard for this type of work but makes it completely untrackable so I have no numbers to run through reports.


4. How do you charge if more then one employee is working on a single task either to speed it a long or in our case often parts are very large and require more then 1 guy. Customers seem to get upset if I try to charge labor on each employee, the other aspect again is how to track and invoice this, would you show labor line items for each employee?


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