Where to go next, Advice Needed

Richard Diagnostician Oak Lawn, Illinois Posted   Latest  

Hello everyone,

I first want say that this is one of the best resources and places I have found for like minded techs like myself. With that said I would like to ask for some advice/guidance on my current situation and maybe open up a discussion on the topic or if anyone may be in a similar situation.

So here's the situation I have been a tech for about 15 years now and I'm 30 years old. I work at meineke which is also my Fathers shop. I am the lead tech here and handle all the diag and bigger jobs which i love doing, but the problem is that when i am doing these jobs that are not very hour friendly the other tech is jamming out all the gravy work and killing it with his book time. By the way we both get payed book time with a small guarantee. 

I currently work six days because i have to just to pay the bills, i average 26 hours book time a week because of the amount of work that we have. I just do not know what to do at the moment, i feel that i could go somewhere else that is busier and with my knowledge, experience and work ethic and make more money. It just seems kind of backwards in this industry which leads me into the discussion topic part of this rant. You can be a great diag tech and find the broken wire or bad ground before the parts cannon gets loaded up and a lot of money is wasted, but not get the compensation you deserve for being able to find that broken wire or bad ground FIRST, but the guys that's slamming out brake jobs and struts is making more money. 

So to all the shop owners or anybody that has been through this situation before, 

What advice or guidance do you suggest?

How would you as a shop owner handle this or has handled this situation before?

How do you pay and compensate your lead techs? And how do you retain them?

What are the best and most profitable ways to charge for diagnostics?

Thanks in advance to anybody who participates in this discussion, this is my first post on DN but i think this is a topic that many techs and owners deal with or have dealt with.

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Martin Diagnostician
Burleson, Texas
Martin Default
 

Wow, there's a lot to unpack here. I guess I'll start with a few questions. How many techs in the shop? How many service writers? How many cars per week are coming in? How many hrs per ticket are being sold? Are y'all inpsecting vehicles for additional work? I would hope that as the diag guy, you make more per hour than the brakes/suspension guy. The other issue here is the fact you only put…

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Richard Diagnostician
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Richard Default
 

Hello Marty, thanks for the response, we are a 4 bay shop with one A tech (me) one B tech that handles a lot of the brakes, suspension, etc.... and a lube tech. Like i said its my Fathers shop and has been in business for 30 years. He has 2 shops of the same size. This shop that i'm at just does not have the volume that i feel it should have, it's very inconsistent, Two weeks ago we had a good…

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Albin Diagnostician
Leavenworth, Washington
Albin Default
 

Do you have to write your own tickets, order parts? What kind of support does management give to the techs?

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Albin Diagnostician
Leavenworth, Washington
Albin Default
 

I sense your frustration. My answers and suggestions will most likely be way different than most, since I have always been self employed, and have mostly worked my myself, although I have always been a shop owner and know where the money comes from and what it takes to keep a shop profitable. For the last 25 years, about 50% of my shop work has been from diagnostic work. I have a good idea how…

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Richard Diagnostician
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Richard Default
 

Hello Albin, thanks for the response, do you have any suggestion on the best ways to sell the diag where it's profitable for both the techs and the business? Also a good way to present it to the customer?

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Albin Diagnostician
Leavenworth, Washington
Albin Default
 

Good morning Richard. When it comes to selling a diagnosis for a problem, the customer needs to feel they are getting something for their money. For this reason, I sell a process. Lets say, you get a phone call, their car won't start. Many times the customer will start telling you all about what happened, what has been happening, them may times they will say, "'I'm out of ideas, or I just don't…

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Andrew Technician
Commack, New York
Andrew Default
 

I think you'll never correct the flat rate system and that you'll never be able to make a lot of money with it. I doubt you could change and do straight repair work even if you wanted to, for two reasons; one, you wouldn't enjoy it, two, once your management and coworkers believe you are the go-to guy for diagnostics, you will always be their go-to guy for diagnostics. And they will suck you…

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael Default
 

This is your father's shop, meaning it's owned by your father? I would expect he should be taking care of you personally. As far as not making money flat rate goes, that's nonsense. I worked for dealerships for 27 years and made money with flat rate with few exceptions, all mismanaged dealerships. At the good ones we charged for diagnostic and for the end repair. Doing that alone should get you…

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Anthony Technical Support Specialist
Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
Anthony Default
 

Hi Richard: I won't attempt to answer your question for various reasons. I will tell you how some of his competitors are being counseled to handle it…

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Steven Mechanic
Spokane, Washington
Steven Default
 

You are facing a problem that all "A" technicians face in a flat rate environment. Two solutions: find a shop that pays hourly, or pretend like you are a "B" tech and do brakes and suspension all day.

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Benjamin Diagnostician
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Benjamin Default
 

I will say this is why I left my last place of employment. I was always given the crazy electrical/intermittent/ almost impossible to figure out vehicles. When I would find the problem after spending six hours of testing and diagnosing, I was told, “well I can’t charge the customer six hours.” My thought was always, ”I don’t care what you charge the customer, but you owe me as a tech six hours…

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Sean Technician
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sean Default
 

I always build extra time in the repair to somewhat help with that issue. It's never much but it can help

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Sean Technician
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sean Default
 

I have the same issue, upside to me is the others around me are VERY new. I like the weird and crazy. But it's also only around 2 diags a day, average. So I still do the more in depth work, as well as oil changes brakes tires. So I pull on average 56 hours a week. I guess biding more time on the diagnostics and major repairs, to free you up for the gravy, to be shared. As sucky as this next part…

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Brishon Technician
Eugene, Oregon
Brishon Default
 

If I was in your position I would move to another shop, if you don't feel like they are taking care of you then another shop will. The shop I work for has a few rules for diagnostics, such as if the technician is dealing with a difficult diagnostic and needs more time then he gets paid more time, that's it. They take care of the technicians and expect the technicians to return the favor, like…

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Bill Owner/Technician
Jackson, Michigan
Bill Default
 

Richard - 26 hrs a week billed for a 6 day week.... Is that all the work you had or all the work you could get done?? ( If there is plenty of work at the shop and this is all you got done or figured out your the issue- sorry) Is the diagnosis being sold/ billed properly or is management giving it away? ( This commonly happens 😢 and it can be a dead end street for you with the employer it's…

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Richard Diagnostician
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Richard Default
 

Hello bill, thanks for the response​.​That is my average books hours due to the amount of work that we have mostly and some due to the fact that im doing all the diag and big jobs. Example just the other week i had heads on f150 5.4 and chains on a f150 3.5 turbo plus diag whatever else came in that week. Which i am fine with if i was getting compensated for the ability to do that…

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Richard, Brother, I feel your pain. Working for family is tough. It is hard to have a knock down drag out argument when you are coming home for Sunday dinner on the Weekend. I was in a shop where my opportunity became smaller and smaller. My situation was as yours is without the family connection. I decided to get into scan tool sales which was not entirely the best fit. What it did for me…

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Richard Diagnostician
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Richard Default
 

Hello Mike, thanks for taking the time i would love to talk further about this and I will definitely keep you posted on the situation. I am suppose to sit down with my father sometime this week and have a converstaion on this exact topic. Im really happy to see all the positive feedback everyone has given. I would like to talk further so i can fill you on some of the details of the shop.

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Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Richard, You can reach me at …

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Vince Technical Support Specialist
Commack, New York
Vince Default
 

My first question, is how old is your Father and when does he plan on retiring? If so, do you have any desire to take over, buy him out etc. Has he ever opened the conversation?

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Richard Diagnostician
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Richard Default
 

Hello Vince, He is 60 and yes i would definitely be open to possibly taking over or buying it from him. he's not the easiest person to talk to, but I just recently asked him if we could sit down and talk about my future with the company.

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Vince Technical Support Specialist
Commack, New York
Vince Default
 

Rich i was in the exact position when my brother owned the shop that I now own. I started the initial idea and waited for him to come around. It took a bit but I was also the lead tech and shop manager. i would suggest letting him know that you are open to discussion and see where it goes. One thing you might want to do is come up with and present some incentive plans for both the techs and…

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Christopher Technician
San Antonio, Texas
Christopher Default
 

I feel your pain on both fronts; Dealerships get slow too and I've worked for family. My best advice would be to treat it like any other job. When it comes to being a flat-rate tech, who owns the business is irrelevant, as is how long it's been in business or how much volume it does. The bottom line is simple - are you fairly compensated for the time you spend at work? If the answer is no, it's…

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William Diagnostician
Ashland, Virginia
William Default
 

If you are working doing diagnostics, is the shop charging for EVERY test and all your time spent on the car? We charge by the test, not so much by any flat rate. If you are spending 10 hours on a problem but only billing 5, either you are too slow or the shop is not changing all the time to the customer. Which one is it?

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Bentley Manager
San Diego, California
Bentley Default
 

Mike is correct. Your shop needs to explain to the customer they are going to pay for diagnosis, and selling it in whatever increments work for your shop. We do 1/2 hour increments so the customer can opt out at any point but they know they owe us for the time we have spent.

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