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Who pays....the shop owner or the mechanic?

5 Star Auto Spa

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I just had a quick question I wanted to ask some other shop owners. Just a little background but we are a mechanic shop that pays hourly and not flat rate. If your mechanic diagnoses a vehicle for problem X and after the customer approves and the repair is completed, problem X is not fixed but additional parts and labor are needed to fix the problem, how do you all proceed? Does the wrongly diagnosed parts or labor or both get taken out of the mechanics pay?


Also, if a mechanic breaks something on the vehicle while doing the repair, does the mechanic pay for it or the shop owner? I wanted to get a better understanding of how other shops are handeling these 2 situations.

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As a shop owner, I feel that I am responsible for my technicians. Stuff gets broken and unless it was just plain abuse, I cover the costs of the repairs. If braking things is a common occurence it may be time to have a discussion with the technician about this or start looking for a new technician. As far as wrong diagnosis this is a little different story. I have taken parts off vehicles when they didn't fix the repair. I don't feel that its appropriate to charge a customer for parts that don't fix the problem. I had one this week that I ate about $100 in parts because they didn't fix the problem. This customer is one of my most loyal over the years so sometimes I feel its just a part of doing business.

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Even the best mechanics make mistakes from time to time. I have made my share of blunders too.


Unless we share in all the profits of the business with our techs, we need to realize that things will go wrong and chalk it up to another cost of doing business. If a tech has a comeback due to his or her mistake, that tech should re-do the job, if possible. Flat rate shops and hourly rate based shops will have different pay procedures to deal with this.


If a tech makes a mistake, find out why. Is it lack of training, lack of following company policies and procedure or is due to sloppiness. If there is a trend where the tech’s quality cannot be improved, you will need to let that tech go.


We track all comebacks, tech related or part related and we know what percentage of total sales are comeback related. We know that in any given year we will have 2 to 3% tech comebacks. We add this to our cost of doing business breakeven number and amortize this expense like any other budgeted expense. It hurts less when we know the numbers and have it budgeted. Because we track the number of each tech we can tell if a problem is developing and deal with it.

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Hey Joe,


Do you happen to know what some of the payment methods that hourly shops do in these types of situations? I understand in a flate rate shop that the mechanic is just given the job again and the shop may not give the mechanic hours for the come back but in an hourly shop, what do they do (clock the mechanic out so he does not receive hourly pay during the repair)?

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Hey Joe,


Do you happen to know what some of the payment methods that hourly shops do in these types of situations? I understand in a flate rate shop that the mechanic is just given the job again and the shop may not give the mechanic hours for the come back but in an hourly shop, what do they do (clock the mechanic out so he does not receive hourly pay during the repair)?


There are a few ways they handle it. Shops that use a clock will still clock the actual time, but charge back the tech at the end of the pay period. If at all possible, the tech that caused the error should get the job back to redo, if not the tech that does the comeback will get credit which goes against the other techs hours.


With shops that don’t track productivity hours and just pay an hourly wage or salary, it’s a little harder. Some shops, when the tech as very few comeback, will not even make an issue out of an occasional mistake and eat it as a cost of doing business. Remember, a chronic comeback problem cannot be tolerated and usually is an indication of a problem. If it’s not a part issue or training issue, then it’s a tech issue. If the tech cannot improve, you need to pull the trigger.


I don’t know of any shop owners that actually make the tech pay out of pocket, unless the action was deliberate, and in that case there’s a real problem at that shop.

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