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I've been struggling with this for some time. We are often doing O2 sensors or EVAP system repairs for vehicles that have fails emission testing. After spending the time to diagnose the problem, replace the faulty component, we still need to reset the monitors in the PCM and test drive the vehicle. On older cars where we can not run EVAP testing monitors in the bay, we may have to drive the car multiple times before the EVAP monitor will run. We often have a service advisor or myself drive the vehicle so the techs can move on to the next vehicle, but on some of these cars you can be looking at hours of time to get all the monitors up. We do sometimes let the customers take the vehicle and drive it for a few days to reset the monitors and bring it back in for emissions testing, but I'm not sure that is the best way to handle these situations. We have seen where an O2 sensor failure has caused a converter failure that did not set a P0420 until the O2 was replaced because the PCM would not run the cat efficiency code with the O2 failed. I want to know that everything is complete before I give the vehicle back to the customer, but charging an additional $200 for drive time not practical.

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I know some people will freak out, but maybe you could just raise your labor rate a dollar or two to make up for the difference instead of charging for each individual thing you're doing. Much like offering free loaner cars, car wash, code checks, or whatever else. They aren't really free, but you don't charge for them either

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  • 4 months later...

I know this is slightly old topic, but I don't get much time to check things out here. Very good topic, and something I didn't think about. How are you billing these additional hours? Are you simply just adding time to the part change, or are you adding a totally new line for test drive and verify? At my shop we do a ton of motors, and all the testing and driving after the repair cost a lot of time.

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I know this is slightly old topic, but I don't get much time to check things out here. Very good topic, and something I didn't think about. How are you billing these additional hours? Are you simply just adding time to the part change, or are you adding a totally new line for test drive and verify? At my shop we do a ton of motors, and all the testing and driving after the repair cost a lot of time.

You should look at your numbers and see how much time you actually spend on the job especially during the verification of repair part. This is very important as a possible area you are leaking billable hours. Of course whenever you increase the cost of a job you have in increase VALUE. the value you should be adding is the additional testing and verification of the repair which should be presented to your customer has a benefit and noted on their invoice.

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We figure it in up front for check engine diag, most of the time the car is due for inspection so we add an hour to get the monitors up. Example - CEL on p0442, p0456. We charge 2 hours to diag it. 10 minute smoke test we find a bad filler neck.1.5 plus part to install it. Smoke it again no leaks, run evap test with the scanner vent solenoid stuck. .5 plus part for that. Test again all good, 20 min test drive ("free") gets the rest of the monitors up. Total 4 hours billed, we are confident codes are fixed. We used to underbill it was bad for us. The customer that can't commit to 2 hours for diag is not a customer we want, its someone who doesn't think my time or equipment is worth anything.

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We had a different type of job the other day. Exhaust manifolds on a Durango. I quoted it high anticipating some problems. I broke 12 bolts. After running through 2lbs of welding wire and 10lbs of nuts i finally got them out. Its not the customers fault I broke them all, but again its not my fault his truck is rusted out. I charged him 3 extra hours, it took me 7. I made money on the job but it took way longer. I feel if I quoted him triple labor we might have had an unpleasant situation. In the end he bought me a nice bottle of wine as a thank you so at least I felt appreciated.

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When I do jobs like that I tell the customer best case (bolts spin right out) or worst case (the heads are coming off) and advise them that I hate broken bolts and do my best to not break them and can take time to remove them without breakage. Advise customer broken bolt are more involved than just drilling them out, such as other components needing removal like p/s pumps, starters, motor mounts etc for access. Always open the customers eyes to these type of problematic jobs like this, the last thing you want is your pants down around your ankles while trying to explain to your customer after the fact. In the end get paid for the job or just don't do it.

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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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