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How Do You Handle Down Time w/ Your Technicians?


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So we are a shop that pays our technicians hourly. We have an incentive built into the pay that rewards technicians a percentage based on performing detailed vehicle inspections that are sold but the bulk of the pay comes from a straight hourly wage. Because we pay our technicians hourly, the expectations we have of our technicians are different then say a dealership or independent repair shop that pays flat rate. When there are no vehicles to service, because our technicians are paid hourly, we expect them to stay busy. We have an extensive To Do List that we have our technicians perform during down time which consists of cleaning and maintenance tasks around the shop. The technicians are expected to come into the front office area and sign off of the To Do List as they complete each task. This helps the CSA know what the technicians are doing at what time. We have noticed that most of our new technicians that end up leaving seem to have great difficulty or dislike to adhere to this policy. I almost think they feel as though they are being micro-managed and they should be able to self direct themselves. The problem with not having a specific set of tasks for a technician during down time is that beyond just sweeping and moping, nothing of significance gets accomplished during the down time.

 

Are there any other shops that pay hourly/salary and if so, how do you deal with down time? I'm not sure if we just have to change our pay to flat rate with a guaranteed minimum base.......

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air filtration

I would change over to flat rate. You would have to have the right system and more importantly the right people to work in an hourly environment. The problem I see with hourly is 2 fold...

 

1. Technicians have no desire to complete their jobs efficiently if there is no incentive. Even if there is an incentive it would have to be a pretty hefty one.

 

2. In the case that you do load up incentives to be efficient with their "fixing cars" work then you run the risk of giving them too low of a hourly wage for them to actually care to do any of the downtime tasks.

 

 

The idea of filling your shop with a crew of hard working, strong work ethic guys is a pipe dream. Is it possible? yeah for sure. I'd rather bank on a system contingent upon performance. Your job as an owner should be to get that car count up so there is no excuse for down time and yes that unto itself can be very difficult!

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Agree with mspec here. I'm taking the slow road to flat rate, though. My guys are currently getting a base salary along with a set dollar amount per flag hour. I give raises to techs based on duration of employment, performance, and ASE certifications. All future raises will result in a dollar amount coming off their hourly guarantee and going towards their flat rate. I could probably just make the switch at this point, but I figure I'd rather take it slow so the guys can adjust. My goal is to have them 100% flat rate by the end of the year.

 

I recently hired a guy to come in part time (about 4 hours a day) to clean the shop and do the odd jobs (empty oil drains, wipe down doors, sweep, mop, take out the trash, etc). This keeps my techs busy working on cars and less time doing other jobs that don't pay.

 

As mspec said, now I've just got to keep cars coming in (lucky me, we so busy, we'll be working on Sunday to try to catch up).

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Agree with mspec here. I'm taking the slow road to flat rate, though. My guys are currently getting a base salary along with a set dollar amount per flag hour. I give raises to techs based on duration of employment, performance, and ASE certifications. All future raises will result in a dollar amount coming off their hourly guarantee and going towards their flat rate. I could probably just make the switch at this point, but I figure I'd rather take it slow so the guys can adjust. My goal is to have them 100% flat rate by the end of the year.

 

I recently hired a guy to come in part time (about 4 hours a day) to clean the shop and do the odd jobs (empty oil drains, wipe down doors, sweep, mop, take out the trash, etc). This keeps my techs busy working on cars and less time doing other jobs that don't pay.

 

As mspec said, now I've just got to keep cars coming in (lucky me, we so busy, we'll be working on Sunday to try to catch up).

 

When you say you give your technicians a base salary along with a set dollar amount per flag hour, does that mean if the base is $700 and the set dollar amount per flag hour is $20, if they turn 30 hours in a week they will receive $700 + $20 * 30 or do they receive whichever one is higher?

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My current pay rate goes like this. The technician gets $10/hour, guaranteed 40 hours per week, absolutely no over time unless I approve it. For every hour they flag, they get $3.50 (or whatever I decide, based on experience, efficiency, and certs). So if they flag 30 hours this week, they will get their guarantee of $400 plus a bonus of $105.

 

As I stated in my previous post, I am slowly moving away from this structure and will be moving to full flag. So as each technician gets a raise on their flag time, I will deduct an equal amount from their guarantee rate and shift it to their flat rate. Once their guarantee reaches minimum wage, I'll probably just move them to full flat rate. We'll see

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Wow. a little over $500 a week to work as a automotive tech.

Things in Texas must really be cheap.

Over here in Bellevue WA., Mexicans at Home Depot ask, and get $20 an hour cash for basic manual labor.

I should move to Texas to retire.

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My current pay rate goes like this. The technician gets $10/hour, guaranteed 40 hours per week, absolutely no over time unless I approve it. For every hour they flag, they get $3.50 (or whatever I decide, based on experience, efficiency, and certs). So if they flag 30 hours this week, they will get their guarantee of $400 plus a bonus of $105.

 

As I stated in my previous post, I am slowly moving away from this structure and will be moving to full flag. So as each technician gets a raise on their flag time, I will deduct an equal amount from their guarantee rate and shift it to their flat rate. Once their guarantee reaches minimum wage, I'll probably just move them to full flat rate. We'll see

 

I used to do hourly as well. The really good thing about this is the comebacks. It was easy for warranty work etc bc they are hourly. I could even help friends and family as well and sometimes do charitable work bc it costs me the same regardless. I used to buy broken down cars off of craigslist (bad engines etc) and have them replace it and sell it.

The flip side to that is... when it's slow or no business, it's tough. Little to no motivation to work on harder things like timing chains or head gaskets. Not enough incentive to look over the car. I was doing something very similar too, $4 per billed hour additional on top of hourly pay... in the end they didn't like it.

 

I do $20 flat rate now and give them a bonus when they hit 40 hours. They like it and I don't care what they do when it's slow. A truck came in the other day for regular maintenance, my tech sold him about 8 hours of additional needed work/maintenance (initially came in for front shocks and spark plugs). It went from like a $300 ticket to a $1300 ticket. Good luck having your hourly guys do that. The reason I changed over was because I put out an ad for a tech while I was doing hourly. The tech was good and he refused to sign on unless it was flat rate, so I changed it overnight. No regrets since

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Wow. a little over $500 a week to work as a automotive tech.

Things in Texas must really be cheap.

Over here in Bellevue WA., Mexicans at Home Depot ask, and get $20 an hour cash for basic manual labor.

I should move to Texas to retire.

Was just an example and I never said that was for an ASE certified technician with 10 years experience

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I used to do hourly as well. The really good thing about this is the comebacks. It was easy for warranty work etc bc they are hourly. I could even help friends and family as well and sometimes do charitable work bc it costs me the same regardless. I used to buy broken down cars off of craigslist (bad engines etc) and have them replace it and sell it.

The flip side to that is... when it's slow or no business, it's tough. Little to no motivation to work on harder things like timing chains or head gaskets. Not enough incentive to look over the car. I was doing something very similar too, $4 per billed hour additional on top of hourly pay... in the end they didn't like it.

 

I do $20 flat rate now and give them a bonus when they hit 40 hours. They like it and I don't care what they do when it's slow. A truck came in the other day for regular maintenance, my tech sold him about 8 hours of additional needed work/maintenance (initially came in for front shocks and spark plugs). It went from like a $300 ticket to a $1300 ticket. Good luck having your hourly guys do that. The reason I changed over was because I put out an ad for a tech while I was doing hourly. The tech was good and he refused to sign on unless it was flat rate, so I changed it overnight. No regrets since

 

Do your technicians ever NOT get to 40 hours? If so, do you provide a minimum?

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I don't provide a minimum and my techs make under 40hours but they're content. They don't want to go back to hourly, I've asked before. If it's slow, we are in a shopping center so they go hangout at Taco Bell or a sweepstakes place next door lol.

I've provided a minimum to one guy in the past. He's the first guy I hired as flat rate and he just wanted a $500/week guarantee. Yea he hit that every week so no big deal

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jesus, its hard enough to get them to work efficiently enough when they are on flag. What a nightmare to have them hourly. Do yourself a huge favor, go flag, use hourly general service guys for cleaning and get your techs thinking about the cars that come into the bay that makes you money rather than a cleaning list.

 

 

We have 3 techs, flag hour.

2 general service techs, lof, si, keep shop clean etc. they are hourly.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      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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