I currently employ a mechanic and friend who has been with me for about 20 years. He was formerly a transmission rebuilder, but we have switched to mostly reman units and have no need for a rebuilder. His pay has remained the same despite his value declining. I am currently paying him roughly $100,000 a year. The problem i'm having is that his skill set is not near that pay level anymore. He does light diagnostic and basic managerial work, but I am not confident enough for him to run the shop for more than an hour. With the current state of the industry our numbers have gone down a bit over the last two years. While still being profitable, I can't help but think about the extra income that would be available by terminating this employee, I just dont know how to do it. Any advice on how to do this? I like him as a person and have known him a very long time, but I feel his is paid about twice as much as he is worth. Any help wouldbe greatly appreciated.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
If you speak with most shop owners they’ll tell you that they think their shop is worth x amount of money. Ask them how they came up with that number, and they’ll tell you it’s based on what they heard another shop sold for, or it’s predicated on their annual sales. But if you really want to know what your shop is worth, first of all, forget everything you’ve heard about “goodwill” and the fact that you have thousands of names in your database. That’s icing on the cake, but it’s not something a buyer can take to the bank. And although there is some value associated with some franchise names, there are two things that are most important to a buyer: the “tangible assets” and the “income history.”
Tangible assets are things like real estate, cash in the bank, secured receivables, inventory and equipment. To put it another way, these are the assets that buyers could turn into cash if they had to. When you’re establishing the value of your inventory and equipment, bear in mind that the actual appraised value may very well be far less than what you originally paid. So tangible assets are always number one.
In regard to “income history”, we all know that past performance is no guarantee of future performance, yet the substantiated income history of a company is what buyers can use to forecast earnings. And don’t forget: The amount of money the “company” made does not include any income you’ve drawn out of the company as a salary. The company’s income is the amount remaining after all expenses, including your salary, have been considered.
So imagine you’re looking to buy a shop, and let’s say the tangible assets are worth $400,000. In addition, let’s say the shop has a history of generating $100,000 in annual income after all expenses, and let’s say the owner has been drawing a salary of $80,000. So if you were to buy that shop, how much would you be willing to invest? Well, only you can answer that question, but I hope you take these 6 points into consideration:
1. If you were to liquidate after you purchased, how much could you sell the assets for? I call this the “street value” of assets.
2. How long has the company been in business, how long have the key employees been with the business, and what’s the probability that these key employees will stay on once you buy?
3. What is the probability of the company continuing to earn the same $100,000 in annual profits, and for how long?
4. In regard to the $80,000 salary the owner was taking, would you be willing to do what he or she does for the company for the same amount? Or will you be able to hire someone to do that job for the same or less?
5. If you were to invest the same amount of money in any other business or investment vehicle, would you receive a better return?
6. What are the terms of the purchase price? You may be better off to pay a higher price in return for a lower down payment, good financing rates and a non-compete.
So, how do you establish the value of your business? Not by the icing (goodwill and number of names in your database), but by looking at it through the eyes of both a banker and a buyer.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com, or calling 800-204-3548.
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Just wanted some general feed back from a few automotive repair shops regarding Yelp.
We have been contacted by a sales rep from Yelp for quite sometime now regarding paid advertisement, though we have declined. We have noticed a few negative reviews, and many positive reviews though they are not being displayed.
Is it worth it to "pay" Yelp and see what the outcome would be?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
How Long is a Labor Hour?
Did you ever stop and wonder how long a labor hour actually is? I’m not talking about time ticking away on a clock. I’m talking about the actual time spent on a repair vs. the labor guide’s suggested time. Personally, I’ve never had a job that started and finished exactly to the second of the given labor time. It’s not like the labor guide’s hourly chart is set in stone, or that they’re wrong, but when it comes to getting paid it sure seems like they are.
Any mechanic will tell you that a labor hour can stretch to half a day if a lot of research is involved, or it can last 15 minutes. Most labor guides typically don’t take into account how much research, diagnosis, equipment setup, or the time it takes recover your 10mm socket that just fell down into the motor.
Time, as they say, is money. If you don’t think so, take your car to any bodyshop and read off the labor charges. You’ll find the labor time is divided into a 1/10th of an hour. However, in the mechanical repair shop, seldom are the labor costs scrutinized as they are when dealing with insurance companies. Even still, I’ve never once been asked to break down the mechanical repair labor into diagnostic time and the actual physical labor when giving an estimate.
Estimates are usually quoted by the R&R labor time for a particular repair. Generally, that doesn’t include diagnostic time. Even though the book time has been calculated out, it’s still not a complete guide and certainly not the Holy Grail of the repair industries time clock. Try sticking with an estimate for changing a starter that’s listed as one hour job. More than likely the estimate is only going to be quoted straight from book of a one-hour labor charge and not any diagnostic time included.
Even with all the technically advanced diagnostic tools a professional mechanic has at their disposal there are still people who can’t understand why diagnostic time should be included in the labor estimate, even though it’s not part of the R&R for the component. In their mind, (as I’ve been told numerous times), the mechanic should already know what’s wrong when they pull their car into the shop.
What’s worse is the price shopper who calls from shop to shop looking for the cheapest repair. I’d bet to say the cheapest quote is probably nothing more than the R&R labor time for whatever part they’re concerned about. However, nobody mentioned anything about the crusted connections at the battery, or the leaking valve cover that’s coated the starter in oil, or whether you’ve installed aftermarket headers. Not to mention any diagnostic time, because the real problem isn’t the starter at all.
On the other hand there are the stop watch aficionados. You know, the people who literally count the seconds of every minute and are bound to argue over any labor time discrepancies on their invoice. The mechanic’s entire career, (in their way of thinking), is strictly turning bolts and slapping on parts. These tick-tock-time-keepers, watch their timepieces with precision and inevitably use “time” as the only determining factor for the cost of a repair.
For instance, let’s say the book time said an hour, and everyone involved agreed upon the charges, but the mechanic got it done in 25 minutes. The argument has always been that the cost of the job should be no more than the time it took to do it. Should the mechanic be penalized for doing his job proficiently and having completed it early? Where does it say he should give the job to the customer at some discounted rate because he can beat the book time? Doesn’t seem right at all. But, what if the same job that was quoted for an hour has taken four hours to complete? Who pays for the time difference now?
So in a sense, a labor hour isn’t an hour at all. It’s an arbitrary amount of time that may or may not be exactly 60 minutes. If it was as accurate as some people believe, then theoretically you should get an estimate for that hour’s labor, pull up to the repair shop, and walk out in exactly 60 minutes with the job completed. Not a second sooner or a second later. Yea, good luck with that one.
Like most trades mechanics get paid by the hour, however it’s not like you punch a time clock in the morning, work all day, then collect a 40-hour paycheck at the end of the week. Most mechanics work on flag time. Realistically, let’s call it what it really is… piece work, (the piece being the car). Very few mechanics are offered an hourly pay and a guaranteed 40-hour work week, (although there are some places that use a combination of both flag time and hourly pay).
More times than not, a mechanic ends up eating a whole lot of labor time for problem solving. Whether there are rusted bolts, bad connections, illusive intermittent problems or poor information from the get-go, something is going to use up time which eventually won’t go towards a paycheck.
Any time money and people are involved in the same situation, and you’re dealing with something that’s not widely understood, such as the modern car, it’s up to the mechanics and the repair shops to make sure they do. Customers also need to understand that this is a business based on suggested labor hours and not a time clock. There needs to be a reasonable amount of trust in the labor guide estimates from both sides of the counter. Because, it’s hard to say how long an hour of labor really is.
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Hey ASO community, we are planning on opening a general repair shop and we had some logos created. Please vote and help us narrow down our choice. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!