We now have a nice tool available to all premium and platinum members under the tools menu, where you can view labor rates entered by our members on an easy to use map, similar to our member map. This is designed to give you an idea of where you are vs the market in your area. As you zoom in, the circle averages open up to more specific areas.
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Labor rate from $115 to $150 car count down 1/3 revenue up 6%.
Going on the third month that we raised our rates. Our best customers have stayed, trouble nickle and dime customers seem to have disappeared. ARO from 380 to 628.
I have recently (about two years ago) gone into business for myself (no longer a dealer tech) and have actually not had to file any labor claims until this past month and it was quite a bit of a hassle.
I was wondering what your experience has been with what auto parts store has been the most user friendly and reasonable reimbursement process?
The places I have access to are:
Action Auto Parts
I don't want to say which of those I am frustrated with after this go round, because I am more interested in hearing your experiences rather than any defenses of a preferred brand. I am told that Advance and Napa supposedly offer full labor rate reimbursement, but I am not sure I believe this, there must be a catch. I don't expect a full labor rate reimbursement, I understand they are paying us for the costs of replacing the part and not to profit a second time, but I also believe it needs to be a fair valuation.
Thanks for any feedback!
By Ron Ipach
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Could Auto Repair Flat Rate Be Dead?
TECHNICIAN shortage today is real. Last study that I saw said, for every eight shops that’s looking for a technician, there’s only one tech available so I know many of you watching this are experiencing that same thing. And I’ll also say one thing that I found: most technicians, when I mention flat rate, their cheeks kind of pucker up. They hate it. Why? There’s risk. They’ve been burned before. So often in the technicians starved market, what’s a shop owner left to do but put technicians on hourly or even maybe salary? And what that leads to is, really what I’m going to call an “uninspired performance.” Why? They get comfortable, they’re able to pay their bills without exerting a ton of effort.
So what’s a shop owner to do? The answer I’ve uncovered recently in my shop is to have a Win Number. For every single employee. See one of the truths I discovered in my 30 plus years of being a shop owner is that often we don’t get the most out of our employees because we never really sat down and told them what we expect. I know that’s been one of my mistakes.
So one of the things that I’ve done recently is I’ve given each employee a weekly Win Number, and that’s why it’s so important. For example, I recently sat down with each of my technicians and shared with them their Win Number. What do I mean by win number? What I expect out of them in parts and labor production for each employee. The numbers are based on my desired technician cost as a percentage of sales. It’s worked so well with my technicians that I now sent it out and established that win number with both my CSR and my service advisor.
I’ve got to tell you the results have been incredible. Not only are my sales and profits up through the roof lately, it’s led to believe it or not, happier employees. Why? They drive home at the end of the day or at the end of the week knowing that they hit their goals. Knowing that they’ve contributed to a successful week for the shop and that certainly led to a happier shop owner!
So, let me leave you with a question. Does each and every one of your employees on your team clearly know what you expect of them?
If your answer is not a resounding YES, it’s time to put a pencil to paper and figure out each team employee or each team members weekly and daily Win.
By Joe Marconi
There has been a lot of controversy recently with flat rate pay plans. Below is a link to an article about a technician's strike that was held in Chicago. Although the strike and issues in the article centered around dealerships, the article brought up good points about flat rate pay, and the low hourly pay many techs receive. It points to reasons why many techs are unhappy, leaving the industry and why we have issues attracting quality people to our industry.
I don't want to start a firestorm, and there are many forms of flat rate pay...but, is it time to rethink flat rate pay plans? And also, we really need to compensate our employees at a standard that is in line with the training, the tools that are required and skills needed these days.
I think it is worth your while to read the article and start a conversation on this topic.
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By Joe Marconi
The other day, a local fellow shop owner, was complaining to me that his plumber just charged him $225 labor for a house call. My response was, "And why do you have an issue with that?"
I know this plumber; he is very successful, in high demand in the area, does great work and provides a VALUBALE service. Does this sound familiar? You bet....sounds like you and your business!!!
When the day comes that all of us truly know what we are worth and charge for it, that will be the day when all us raise the level of the auto industry, begin to attract more people to us, pay our employees better, build for our future and go home with the pay we deserve.
I know this is going to cause controversy....so let's start the conversation.
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For those with bodyshops, here is some interesting reading:
bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/ John Shortell I’ve taken a part time job working at an independent body shop close to my home writing estimates and supplements and harassing insurance companies. I’ve been at it for a few months now and up until recently I haven’t seen or heard from a Progressive appraiser. Finally, several weeks ago, I had a customer who was hit by one of Progressive’s insureds. Because I’m in a different area of the state now, I’m unfamiliar with the local appraisers. More importantly, they are unfamiliar with me.Â What fun!
First let me admit that I was spoiled working at a high line dealership body shop. Those evil rich drove nice new cars that demanded nice new OEM parts. Now all I see are Honda’s and Hyundai’s. Old ones at that. I’ve never seen so many junk cars in my life. But I guess the poor have to drive too.
Anyway, I had a customer who was hit by a Progressive insured. I wrote an estimate and asked the customer to make arrangements to meet the Progressive appraiser here at my shop. Progressive people hate that. They’d rather look at the vehicle somewhere else. Any where I am not. When the Progressive appraiser showed up I knew there would be trouble. He looked to be about 12 years old. He fit Progressive’s archetype for their ideal appraiser: young, naive and no experience in the collision repair industry.
His estimate was several hundred dollars less than mine. No surprise there. But it was a small repair, and that several hundred dollars amounted to about 30% of my estimate. Of course, the labor rate was an issue, but what really got me wound up with this moronic “blend within the panel” crap. I basically told the kid he could take his “blend within the panel” and have his first sexual experience with it. I wasn’t going to accept it. There were some other issues too, and itÂ all added up to the 30% deficiency. I was beginning to lose my cool because this prepubescent putz couldn’t figure out how to meet my bottom line, so I told him to do what a lot of other appraisers do: make something up and put it on the estimate. Of course, I was being sarcastic, but being so young, this kid didn’t understand the sarcasm and took offense to my suggesting he commit fraud. Well at least the kid is honest.
I asked the kid for his appraiser’s license number and the name of his supervisor and explained that I would be filing a complaint with the insurance department, which I did immediately after he left (And don’t we all know how effective that was). I told the customer not to worry about the difference–I would take care of it. I had her sign a repair authorization, a direction to pay and a power of attorney in case I had to sue the bastards. Working at a dealership I never had the opportunity to sue an insurance company because the owner didn’t want the trouble, but now that I’m working at a small independent shop, the owner is willing to go after insurers who don’t play nice.
I spoke with the kid’s supervisor over the phone about the situation. For the record, she was very pleasant, just like talking to sweet high school girl. I didn’t meet her in person, but by the sound of her voice she was another Progressive clone–too young and inexperienced in anything to be dealing with these issues. But she promised to look into it. I knew I was wasting my time, and I was. After three days of haggling, the young girl managed to come up with another hundred dollars. She was still a couple of hundred short. I explained to her that I was going to sue her insured for the balance.Â She responded with a perkyÂ “OK” like I had just asked her if she wanted to go hang out at the mall. She was trained to perfection. Great job Progressive behavior modification department!
With little effort I was able to locate the guy who hit my customer and promptly mailed him the following letter:
A few days later I received a phone call from Mr. XXXX. He wanted to discuss the matter. I explained the situation to him in more detail, and he agreed to pay the balance owed and then deal with his insurance company. I again offered to help him in any way I could with filing a complaint with the insurance department or recovering the money from Progressive. He didn’t take me up on the offer, but he did send a check the next day. I’ve yet to hear from him or Progressive so I have no idea if he was reimbursed or not. I do know the gentleman was not too happy about having pay for repairs to someone else’s car after he had been paying premiums for liability insurance. Something tells me Mr. XXXX will be finding someone else to send his hard earned money to for insurance in the near future.
I fully expected to have to go to small claims court. I knew Progressive would not give in, and I never expected the insured to cough up the money so easily. I feel sorry for the poor bastard. But I’ll be damned if I will become a cheap whore just because Progressive is too profit driven to treat my customers fairly. It’s ironic. Progressive was started by a left wing socialist. The name Progressive is not a coincidence. This nut job and his dope smoking kid, who recently stepped down from running the company, preached the progressive movements dogma, and heavily funded many of its whacked out causes. Progressives are supposed to be more fair than the evil rich. They are supposed to care about the little guy and scorn the evil corporations, yet here they are now acting as bad as any corporation ever did. They only care about their profit and share holders. Kind of makes them big time hypocrites. Just my humble opinion.
Lesson learned? Never sell yourself short. If you’re going to be a whore, at least be a high priced whore. Stand up for yourself. Had I gone to court, I most certainly would have won. It is astonishingly easy to demonstrate to a judge how labor rates are artificially suppressed by insurers, how they manipulate the system for their corporate financial gain, and that they will do just about anything to save a buck. To be fair, I would probably do the same if I worked for Progressive or another insurance company. It is all part of their survival. When your cat eats a cute little bird, you may think it horrific, but it is only natural. And it is only natural for collision repairers to fight to survive. What is not natural is when collision repairers give up and play nice at the risk of losing everything. That’s agonizing suicide.
If you’re thinking that I spend a lot of time talking about Progressive, there’s good reason. First, they deserve it. Second, I know my audience–and it’s Progressive. For this past year, Progressive Insurance has been my number one visitor to this website. State Farm has been catching up lately. They are the top visitor this month. Way ahead of everyone else. The only other entities that generate more traffic to this site are the large ISP’s like Road Runner and AOL. I’m flattered. Hopefully some of what I talk about is subliminally sinking in.
Oh yeah, remember my prediction about CCC’s announcement that it would get rid of the prompts for bumper covers? I said it would be slow in coming. Well here we are a couple of months and updates later and it’s still there. Your complaints forced them to make a public acquiescence, but now that the hell raising has died down, no need to rush things. We’re still waiting CCC. Wassup?
One more thing. Apparently there is a lawsuit going on in Arizona against Progressive. The plaintiffs have deposed a former Progressive employee. The deposition is interesting reading. For an inside look on the pressure and incentives to steer vehicles to network shops give it a read.Â It is only a partial transcript. If anyone has the entire document or a link, please send it to me or link to it in the comments section.