Here is a link to an article on a lawyers webpage

john_gJanuary 4, 2010

I'll just drop the link and post my comments in a few days.

For now, I'll just say that he is more right than he is wrong in his perceptions. Where this gets complicated is the system he is talking about actually works to keep consumer automotive prices LOWER than they would otherwise be........ (Not just repair)

Here is a link that might be useful: Flat rate, a lawers perspective

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I read that site. This guy is a NUT BAR. Has no bloody idea of how the system works. We had a transmission guy the time keepers had problems paying. He could R-R and repair a transmission 2 hours faster than flat rate. They rolled his pay over. If the tech is any good with a " pencel " he made good money. If a car comes to my stall that has " replace tail light bulb " it pays .2 that is 6 mins. including the time you spend at the parts counter waiting for your turn. If the time keeper likes you your still punched in on the other car that just left your stall. If you put down " r-r light bulb " you get 6 mins. And your nuts if you do that. You put down repair wiring to bulb socket. You get straight time. That includes all the time it took to remove your old car and bring in the new car and stand in line at the parts dept. for your bulb. If it's warranty and i have to do an engine r-r and it pays 6 hours and i have trouble i punch over. Then repairs other problems that showed up and get extra pay. Remember that guy NEVER worked flat rate and has no bloody idea. I had the chance to be payed hourly or a garranty. NO WAY. I make more money on flat rate and warranty. Remember if the warranty time says 3 hours someone checked it. It can be done. Usually in less time. If you can't do that time or less your no good at your job. Then your fired. If i run overtime at warranty i get payed and the customer still payes nothing. I've seen this site and i don't think anyone or very few know how to make a living at flat rate.No offence John but i don't think you do either. My flat rate was 110 - 130 percent and i was a trimmer. That is the hardest and the worse job in a dealership to make money at I'll take flat rate any time. Our flat rate for the techs is $47.00 per hour. Our hourly labour rate is $145.00 per hour. If you specialize or do electrical it can go as high as the dealer will pay. I know guys that get $60.00 per hour flat rate. They get that pay because they are GOOD. I had a Cadillac from texas put on a train and sent to my stall in my dealership because that dealership couldn't fix it. Says alot about the U.S. auto dealers. No offence. Yes it was warranty. To this date i know of no dealer in Canada that closed it's doors. I worked A.C. and heating for 5 years. The engineers
would give us a plan and install directions. We know bloody well it will not work because we are in the field.
They haven't been out of their office. They haven't a clue
about the real world. We would do it there way knowing it
won't work. It's called job security. You have to go back
and fix it. Over, and over, and over and get payed every time. Don't you just love this system ?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 8:18PM
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Does flat rate reward a tech that wire ties the timing belt to the camshaft pulley of a 2.5l Chrysler 4cyl, and uses the shop crane to lift the head just enough to clean the block and head and slide in a new gasket "IF" it gets the car out of warranty?

If you have four techs in a shop who that do that particular head gasket and many other similar repairs in the way mentioned who beat the warranty time, and one tech who "does it the right way" and takes twice as long to do the same repairs tell me what we would expect management to do about the tech that is only able to produce half as many hours as the other guys....

As far as turning big hours, try this formula for a moment. Pay your people half of what they are worth, quote labors at 175% of the time they should take, and also set the customers labor rate to match that, which means about 60% of what it should be. Now convince the techs to work at their maximum pace all of the time, which is how they "pencil" so many hours and on paper everybody wins. Right up to the moment someone decides to change the rules and makes the carrot that flat rate was supposed to be and turns it into a stick and they turn around and set the labor times to 90% of what the repair really takes to accomplish.

The lawyer is right on with his perception of flat rate.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 9:59PM
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*The lawyer is right on with his perception of flat rate.*

He is when it comes to warranty work anyway.

Flat rate is there to level out the costs of common repairs. For example, the amount of labor charged to a customer to change a water pump in an '86 chev whatever should be the same no matter who does it or where. Otherwise what you have is one customer being charged $100 because his mechanic was really fast. Another gets charged $1000 for the exact same repair because his mechanic was slow, had bad luck, etc. There are flat rate books that set the times for common repairs. There's supposed to be research involved that sets a resonable amount of time a decent mechanic can do a particular repair. They are not created and set by the dealership as the lawyer says.

Warranty is a different story. Manufacturers set up a situation with a brand new car. Have an ace mechanic do a repair a few times while being timed each time. Of coarse he's going to be fast to begin with, and faster each time. That's why warranty work pays so much less.

Flat rate doesn't apply to repairs that are not common and not in the book. Those would be charged straight time and material. At least that's the way it was in my day.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 10:51PM
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In short, "Flat Rate, isn't Flat". What is supposed to be a system that promotes efficiency, and rewards skill has been turned into one that simply enables poor management to shift the responsiblity of the entire operation onto the technicans. Warranty times are now set by "wrench time" which means they start and stop a stop watch based on only the time that a wrench is on a bolt. There was a time when a technician utilizing air tools allowed him/her to be quicker than the book time. Today air tools, flex sockets, and any other special wrenchs are of course used to set the times as low as they can get them. They do allow fixed amounts of time for accessing parts and clean-up of reused parts, and other incidentals but it's not sufficient. They don't allow time to road test, they expect another person in the dealership to do that. Quite normally warranty time can be as little as 70% of what the job genuinely takes a good technician, and yes the true master technician can match the warranty time, or maybe even slightly beat it by cutting any corners that they can figure out. But anytime someone trys cutting a corner on something they risk not being successful with the repair because "They were trying to go too fast".

Custmomer pay times are looked up in a labor "GUIDE", and right in the first two pages of the guide you will see that the guide is used to estimate the time required, it is not intended to be used for billing purposes. So yes, the dealers do set the labors they charge for repairs. Often times you will see customer pay times significantly higher than the guide, in short this happens because they have to use customer pay work to subsidize what warranty didn't pay. A headgasket job on a 2.0l Pontiac Sunbird used to pay 1.8hrs, under manufacturers warranty. That same job as a customer pay job paid almost 7hrs. A good technician could do three of those a day consistently, but at warranty rate he didn't earn a full days wages, if they were all customer pay and he had half a week. Combine two warranty, and one customer pay and he would be producing basically at par with what the dealer expects of him/her.

That's why I quote "Flat Rate, isn't Flat". Its part of why kal talks about being better with a pencil than a wrench, and that all goes right back to exactly what the lawyer is saying.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 4:02AM
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I guess you guys have a completely different " flat rate " system " If our guys were caught lifting a head just enough to clean the block and head and slipped a gasket under it they would be out of there before lunch. If a customer was charged $100.00 for a water pump change in a 86 chev and had a " fast mechanic " The charge would be the same for a Slow mechanic that took two days. $ 100.00.
If the slow mechanic did it again and took that long he or
she would be out of a job. I've been in dealerships over 42 years and i know how it works. I made money on warranty repairs because i was good. Not as much as standard flat rate but never lost a job because i didn't bring in the quota. You will not win this one. You don't know how it works. the dealer pays us. NOT the customer. I've eaten alot of time. It happends to all of us. The customer DOSEN'T pay extra. I loose it on my pay. Maybe that is why
none of our dealerships are closed. I don't hear Ford begging for money. From what i've seen on this site most of the mechanics and dealers have no idea how to repair their products and burn customer so bad they will never come back. This excludes all the actual mechanics that know what they are doing and are good at they'er job. You guys know who you are. There are VERY good techs here. To bad the garbage dealers and fly by night mechanics bring us all down.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 9:25PM
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No by the way you just described your system its the same. Sorry to disagree, but the lift the head and slap the gasket mentality is often rewarded north of the border too. In both countries the same double standard applies, get away with cutting the corners and the tech is a hero, have one fail and the tech gets to do it over again for free. Have more than one fail and the tech is considered a hack and will find himself out on the street, while the guy in the stalll next to him continued doing the repair the same way. I'll agree that someone who isn't fast enough is gone in a hurry, but its more like if the tech takes four hours to do a three hour job consistently, even if he/she never has a comeback, they will find themselves on thin ice.

I definitely know how it works and how it is twisted into something evil that it was never intended to be. In one line you state "You don't know how it works. the dealer pays us. NOT the customer. I've eaten alot of time. It happens to all of us. The customer DOSEN'T pay extra. I loose it on my pay."

Your making my point with that sentence.

As far as Ford goes, I love my Fords. But ten years ago they were among the greatest abusers of flat rate. There is a website, devoted to technicians who were fighting the O.E's over fraudulent labor times. At one point Ford would pay just over eight hours for the R&R of a long block in an F150 4X4. To get the time under 12Hrs top techs figured out that removing the cab allowed for sufficient access to everything that it was faster than following the book. Amazingly, removing the cab shaved about four hours off of the time "doing it by the book" BTW. In a direct challenge, the techs were going to assign a technician to do a particular repair from a known group of technicians, and from a general range of repairs of which known labor operations applied. Ford could pick anyone off of their time study team and then once it was set, we got to announce what the actual repair that would be performed would be. The specifics of the challenge were that both the labor study tech, and the mastertech would learn what repair was to be done, and then they both would do that repair simultaneously. In the challenge it was stated that the chosen master technician would complete the repair correctly, while noting the labor operation time was unreachable because it was too low. But it was also stated that the master tech would complete the repair faster than the time study technician. Logic dictated that if the labor time was correct and fair, the time study person should be able to do the repair in that amount of time allotted. After all, this would be the person who created that labor time. If the time study mechanic completed the repair within the time allotted, whether the master tech beat his time or not it was to be accepted by the techs challenging the labor ops system that they would drop their complaints. If the techs won the challenge as described, then Ford had to correct their labor times to at least the times that were routinely achieved by master technicians from all around the country.

There was one more stipulation, the challenge was to be viewable live on the web, ten years ago this was easily within Fords capability.

I was one of the technicians that the Ford techs would put on the floor for some specific repairs, I was also the author of "The Challenge". Ford did not accept the challenge and in face to face meetings they started to explain the use of "wrench time" as part of the calculation strategy. In simple yes or no questions, they would not admit that anyone could actually ever complete repairs in the times allotted, and they even went as far as to say those times are for controlling their costs as to what they pay the dealers for a specific warranty repair. The times they pay are not intended to reflect a technicians pay for doing that repair.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 8:31AM
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Good rebut John. To bad your so far out. Would love to sit down with you and all the other GOOD techs and hack out a few things and exchange info. Thing is John, you to me sound more like a business man before a tech. Your good at your job but i think your a better business man. Ever thought about politics ? Hope all you guys have a good and
money making new year. Take care.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 9:23PM
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