Auto Repair Estimator
Auto Repair: How Can They Screw Up An Oil Change?
"It's all about beating the time." This quote originates from a smart old service administrator, advising me about how to maximize my income as a flat-rate tech. If you've ever wondered why your car doesn't get set correctly, or your entire concerns weren't tackled, you can blame, in part, the flat-rate pay composition.
Flat-rate simply means that your auto technician is paid a flat fee for a specific repair, regardless of how long the repair actually requires. Quite simply, if your car needs a normal water pump, which pays off two hours of labor, and the auto technician completes the work in one hour, he gets paid for two.
In theory, this may work in your favor. If the job takes longer, you'll still only pay the "predetermined" labor amount. THEORETICALLY, not reality!
The flat-rate pay structure was created to drive productivity. It is rather effective. The flat-rate pay system induces technicians to work solid, but it generally does not promote quality.
In terms to getting your car set appropriately, the flat-rate pay structure has disastrous effects. Flat-rate technicians are constantly looking for shortcuts to overcome the clock in order to maximize the number of hours they bill. Experienced flat-rate technicians can bill anywhere from 16 to 50 hours within an 8 hour day.
It's these shortcuts and the breakneck velocity at which even rate technicians work that cause a few of the most idiotic mistakes. Within the rapid-fire pace of your shop I've observed technicians start machines with no oil. I've seen transmissions slipped, smashing into little pieces onto the shop floor. And I've seen autos driven through bay doors--all in the name of "beating the time."
Flat-rate technicians can get quite elaborate with shortcuts. My favorite was the execution of an 6-foot-long 2-by-4, which was placed under the engine for support while a motor mount was removed. It made a job predetermined for taking 1.5 hours achievable in twenty minutes. A win-win, right? The tech makes extra cash; you get your car back faster.
Actually, in many cases the keeping this 2-by-4 destroyed the oil pan. Moreover, it induced the car, your car, to balance precariously 6 legs in the air, as the technician manipulated the car lift to gain access to your engine mount.
This plan was abruptly discontinued when a technician's 2-by-4 snapped causing the car to crash nasal area down onto the concrete floor.
Sometimes the shortcuts create very delicate disruptions, which create problems overtime. An instant example: a vehicle had its transmitting serviced with a new filter, gasket, and smooth. During the treatment, the technician was able to save time by bending the transmitting dipstick tube marginally, in order to get the transmission skillet out faster. The vehicle was reassembled, and the specialist re-bent the tube back to place and off it went--no worries....
Six months later, the automobile delivered with an intermittent misfire. The engine wasn't working on all cylinders. After extensive diagnostics, it was uncovered that the transmitting dipstick tube got chaffed through the engine unit harness, intermittently grounding out an injector. Hmm, that's bizarre. Don't usually note that.
The high-speed environment and the next shortcuts illustrate the devastating effects of the flat-rate, sales-driven pay composition on the grade of car repairs.
No think about even an engine oil change gets screwed up!
The indegent quality of work motivated by the even rate pay structure is disconcerting enough. Sadly, it generally does not stop here. The negative effects of flat-rate get exponentially worse, as it opens "wide" the entranceway to rip you off!