Flat Rate Employee's and Employers, what do you expect from each other?

Shani Technician Toronto, Ontario Posted   Latest   Edited  

Good day everyone, 

I hope everyone is trying to stay as safe as they can and are trying to do their best in these times. Here in Ontario things don't seem to be slowing down anytime soon regarding COVID-19. 

Today I was hoping to gather some good information regarding employee's working at flat rate, and employers paying techs at flat rate. I want to see both sides of the coin and hopefully this will be an educational discussion that's not too heated. The reason I'm asking this question is because I recently got into a disagreement with my employer that revolves around this subject. I will try to provide both points of view as accurately as possible so I can get good opinions from all other professionals on this platform. My intention is to either understand this more correctly for myself, or possibly have some viable solutions that I can attempt to discuss with my employer. I am somewhat new to the flat rate world, I've been doing it for about 2 years now. 

My workplace is implementing "full inspections" on every vehicle that comes in, for the most part. To myself that means that when I have a car on the hoist I'm going to do a relatively thorough visual inspection on the vehicle that doesn't eat up too much of my time given my pay structure. It makes sense for me to look for work but it doesn't make sense for me to spend too much extra time on each vehicle. 

My employers expectation is that I do whatever is necessary to get a reliable, thorough inspection on each vehicle I work on regardless of extra time spent. Which includes the removal of components if necessary to do so. Some examples include to remove a spark plug if recommending a tune up, or to remove wheels and calipers if recommending brakes. 

Unfortunately as you may have guessed this inspection is complementary to the customer, and my flagged hours. My problem with this is simply the fact that when I am asked to do the extra work such as removing wheels for a thorough brake inspection I am getting 0 hours for it. Hell sometimes if a car is in really bad shape the inspection and quote write up can easily add up to 15-30 minutes of my time. If the job sells that's great if the job is declined now I just feel like I got screwed over. That is my point of view. 

My employers point of view is that although I am not getting the flagged hours for the inspection, even when I have to spend a considerable amount of extra time on a vehicle, doing the inspection will always pay itself back. Whether it be the day of or when the customer returns to get the work done. So the ending result is simply you win some and you lose some. 

I am not sure how to feel about this and am wondering if this is a general practice for some businesses out there? As an employer would you expect this from your employee? As an employee do you practice the same procedure at your workplace? I appreciate all the responses and opinions. 

Update: 

Thanks everyone for your input, I got a lot more feedback then I was expecting and I really appreciate it. Seems like there are many different opinions on this topic but the majority tends to agree on the fact that nobody should be performing these inspections for free, Reading all the replies I can see that there many different ways that businesses operate regarding this situation to insure everyone is treated fairly.

It's nice to hear that my concerns that I've brought up to my employer are not unreasonable. Although I already had my opinions about it, my co-workers opinions, and my friends opinions which were all the same conclusion. Unfortunately the most important opinion of all that did not go over well was my employers. I wanted to gather more information on this topic from professionals that would know best, since I'm still fairly new in this field. That's exactly what I got here so thank you. 

I've had a discussion with my employer a couple times now about this topic and as far as I've been told they will be working out a plan to make things fair. Since then I have not heard or seen anything different but I will have to be patient and hope for the best. It appears to me that this is not as important to them as it is to myself but I've done all I can do at this moment apart from leaving. I'm going to do my best to work things out with my employer as it only makes sense to try, and see where things end up from there. 

Thanks everyone I hope you guys have a good weekend coming up! 

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Interesting
Alex Technician
Denver, Colorado
Alex Default
   

I've worked at places where the technician does not flag anything if the customer approves the work that day. If the customer declines repairs, the customer is billed 0.3-0.5 hours, which the technician flags. If the customer returns for repairs at a later date, the money paid for the inspection is credited back at that time and the technician is back-flagged. This seems fair and effective to…

+5
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Agree
Jamey Owner/Technician
Ventura, California
Jamey Default
 

As a shop owner, I believe the inspection should be done during the vehicles regular scheduled maintenance. I do not believe it should be done on every visit to the shop. I think customers see that as excessive attempts to up sell. I do believe if my technicians are repairing a water pump, they should note anything they see as a problem. They should not be checking all the lights, pulling wheels…

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Agree
Nick Diagnostician
Affton, Missouri
Nick Default
 

You can do sick brake gauges in without pulling wheels. And pulling plugs to sell a tune up has more risk and reward in my opinion. When happens if you have a misfire now after disturbing that plug? And can you truly tell if a plug is good or bad by looking at it? They should go off of schedule intervals. If they want you to pull wheels they should eat the flag time and pay you. It's easy to…

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Agree
Anthony Technical Support Specialist
Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
Anthony Default
 

Hi Shani: I can do almost anything given enough time or money. If you have the money, I'll find the time. Unless you can control EVERYTHING about the operation, there is no way for you to understand it. It becomes TEGWAR (The Exciting Game Without Any Rules) I won't get into discounting the diagnostics if the repair is done. Once it leaves the door though, it is a new vehicle the next time it…

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Agree
Jose Technician
Woodland, California
Jose Default
   

When I used to work at a dealership , they implemented the digital inspections and paid .2hrs for you to look for upsell and work needed. Shop foreman would randomly pull a digital inspections tion and re-do the inspections. If you missed something they would let you hear it. If you did your job you'd get a spiff. It's a catch 22, if you don't take the time to do an inspection, how are you…

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Michael Technician
Amherst, Massachusetts
Michael Default
 

Flat rate should have gone away with the Ford model T and model A vehicles. The employer should have a line item to flag for the inspection. Or if you notice something related to the work you are doing then fine note it. I would find a shop that pays hourly.

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Agree
Helpful
Allan Mechanic
Westlock, Alberta
Allan Default
 

The service writer should be selling a brake inspection. there are flat rate book times for this op. The customer needs to approve any disassembly of the vehicle as well

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Agree
Tyler Technician
Olathe, Kansas
Tyler Default
 

I get this question from newer techs all the time. It's never easy to answer. Especially because it seems like doing the inspection 'correctly' always feels like a moving goalpost. You don't spend enough time inspecting? You're a jerk for missing stuff. Spend too much time? You're a jerk for wasting time better spent on other cars. Been there, chased that. For perspective, I've worked multiple…

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Agree
Dave Mobile Technician
Ironton, Ohio
Dave Default
 

If I am going to make nothing, that is exactly what I am going to do.

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Agree
Resolution
Michael Mobile Technician
Clinton, Utah
Michael Default
 

Shani, I can see that you are a very fair person and are trying to be as diplomatic as possible. It is my opinion that it is difficult for many shop owners to see your side clearly because he or she feels that they are in the same boat. The customer's car is on the lift costing him or her dollars hoping that the time inspecting will pay off. In addition to income loss, the shop owner has the…

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Agree
Jeff Technician
Lake Hughes, California
Jeff Default
 

To not pay you for the inspection is slave labor!! It seems that is prevelent across the industry. Flat rate pay totally sucks unless they can provide you the opportunity to flag 10-12 hours daily. How else are you compensated with insurance and retirement benefits? My best advice is find someone to work for that values your time!

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Disagree
Greg Technician
University Place, Washington
Greg Default
 

We’ve been going back and forth on this at work. When they drop it off our latest thing we are doing is if they are new or haven’t been in a long time we offer a “Spring Inspection“ for 29.00. Which is our extended inspection (Not pulling wheels or removing too much covers or shields to access things). Shop rate is $119 so doesn’t cover the complete 1/2 hour that technicians receive But a lot…

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Steve Technician
Erie, Pennsylvania
Steve Default
 

I am an advocate of the courtesy inspection. I am in my twenty first year of working flat rate in or around a dealership environment. The inspection is a tool, not unlike that hammer(s) you own. When used properly and in the right circumstances, the hammer is an essential tool. When a hammer is not used for it's intended purpose, such as trying to slice cake, the end result is less than…

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Mike Owner/Technician
Manteno, Illinois
Mike Default
 

To me as a shop owner and a tech that has worked on book time I see both sides to this. Also as a shop owner if my techs are working for free they are not producing. My suggestion and to keep things simple if you do a inspection and the customer approves the work the inspection is on the technician. However the customer declines the work and the inspection is mandatory the shop should compensate…

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Edward Owner
San Antonio, Texas
Edward Default
 

Hello, Shani As a mobile tech i am aways doing full inspection if need be, unfortunately we won't always land the job on all the issue that need repair, but I do tend to believe it shows and give customers a perspective of what needs to be done with there vehicle it's important part of my business. Unfortunately, if the shop doesn't believe in paying for inspection that's there prerogative you…

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Dave Mobile Technician
Ironton, Ohio
Dave Default
 

I have a couple of more thoughts on free inspections. The first thought is if the hourly lube tech is getting paid his hourly rate to do an inspection, why should a flat rate tech do it for free ? The second thought , or more correctly things that I have seen in shops that push the techs to do the unpaid inspections , is that a lot of totally unnecessary work is sold. This can maybe lead to some…

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Agree
Gail Technician
Raleigh, North Carolina
Gail Default
 

The Tire Store Business Model. I get so pissed off when the front counter sells a brake flush when car came in for MIL on, Especially when i recommended the heavily corroded battery cables be cleaned. Nope. Couldn't sell battery service. I know along with coolant & diff fluid they are probably completely ignored as maintenance items. Lifetime fluids and all. How many times have you received…

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Marvin Mechanic
Issaquah, Washington
Marvin Default
 

I would call L and I and let them answer the question, you boss will love the audit.

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Gail Technician
Raleigh, North Carolina
Gail Default
 

Boss got fired late February. Doesn't matter. New boss same as the old boss comes to mind. I'm no longer with Pep Boys. They will always be the same. I'm very likely retired. Supposed to start getting Social Security in July. Unless our dear leader figures out a way to take it. His Org is late paying their bills...two weeks into the shut-down. But us poor people are supposed to have 6 months of…

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Jonathan Technician
Tempe, Arizona
Jonathan Default
 

Hand your boss a can of car wax. Tell him that while you are doing a "free" inspection he can wax your car for free. If he waxes your car do the inspection.

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Agree
Jeff Technician
Lake Hughes, California
Jeff Default
 

Well now that "depends"

0
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Richard Owner
Columbus, Georgia
Richard Default
 

Hi Jon, good to see you have mellowed with age.

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Rudy Technician
Montebello, California
Rudy Default
 

Shani- You're in a cancerous environment with management whos business mentality is from the 70s and 80s. Find a better shop. They are out there. Well managed shops pay their employees for their time. Poorly manage shops subsidize their lack of business acumen on the backs of their employees.....

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Agree
Jeff Technician
Lake Hughes, California
Jeff Default
 

I'd like to have $5.00 for every free courtesy check did!

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Agree
Jason Technician
Lakewood, Colorado
Jason Default
 

Well Said Rudy! Your always great at cutting through the BS. I was thinking the exact same thing.

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Cliff Diagnostician
Santa Maria, California
Cliff Default
 

I hate the words "free inspection", If the SW can't sell the work that you find on the day of inspection then your out all the time spent. The typical reply is that you'll get the jobs from the inspection later... So what if your busy or gone at the time the work shows up and someone else gets the job? Do you get a percentage for a finder's fee? I think the word free should be removed from any…

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Agree
Rick Technician
Glenview, Illinois
Rick Default
 

I'm glad I'm in a union. I don't grab a set of keys unless I get paid

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Douglas Technician
Hermon, Maine
Douglas Default
 

Dealership flat rate, and free 27 point inspections, got to love the people that get paid salary telling you to work for free with no overtime! Last flat rate dealership I worked for (keyword last) We also had to take a video. The techs all discussed getting paid a flat rate for the 27 point check / video with the service manager because it took 2/10thns to do. He saw our point and decided to…

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William Diagnostician
Austin, Texas
William Default
   

We do "no cost" digital inspections on every vehicle that comes into the shop. We believe there is a definite benefit to doing these inspections for our business and customers. On average it takes 30 minutes to do one properly. That being said , we have dedicated hourly employees that are paid to do these inspections. Any work sold from these inspections is then passed on the the flat rate…

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Jason Technician
Lakewood, Colorado
Jason Default
 

William, it sounds like there is an excellent system in place, that balances shop/customer goals without taxing the most experienced techs. With that said. I have been on the flat rate system for over twenty years. I've had good shops and bad ones. The one conclusion I have come to is that, we are continually asked to do more and more for free, as the times get tighter and tighter. I use to…

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Agree
Paul Mechanic
Harvey, Illinois
Paul Default
 

Having worked both sides of the fence as employee and employer(baby sitter) of three and now as a one man band for the last 25 years for the same shop I started at- its my opinion that you should be compensated at the current shop hourly rate for anything other than a visual gloss over the vehicle you may be servicing at the time. I am trying to restrain myself from all the tangents this topic…

+4
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Agree
Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael Default
 

The "free inspection" is a double edged sword. On one hand it has the potential to bring in more business and on the other it can be a waste of time for the tech and the shop. I don't do them unless the customer is a repeat customer and I know they'll do what we recommend or the vehicle is in for another reason such as an oil change. I do not offer a specific coupon for them. Honestly if you…

+2
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Agree
Shani Technician
Toronto, Ontario
Shani Default
 

Thanks everyone for your input, I got a lot more feedback then I was expecting and I really appreciate it. Seems like there are many different opinions on this topic but the majority tends to agree on the fact that nobody should be performing these inspections for free, Reading all the replies I can see that there many different ways that businesses operate regarding this situation to insure…

0
Default Ð Bounty Awarded
William Diagnostician
Ashland, Virginia
William Default
   

Same old issue! Do nothing for free. All you have to sell is your knowledge and time. Give nothing away for free. It cheapens your value and make you look like you are over charging all the time. Just stop it! No pay, no play.

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Danny Technician
Frederick, Maryland
Danny Default
 

Seems to me that there is a lot of anger in this blog. My two cents is that there should be a inspection that takes less than 15 minutes and it should be free. That should include a test drive, visual inspection and top off under hood fluids. Brakes, drive train tune up etc should be service adviser that owns the recommendations and sell as maintenance, There, problem solved and all the bases…

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Greg Technician
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Greg Default
 

Yikes... I'm at .17hr for inspection and LOF, which includes the test drive

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Michael Owner/Technician
Montague, New Jersey
Michael Default
 

.17? That's ridiculous. At most of the dealerships it was .3. We pay .5. However, you are in CO so according to some of the zipper heads I worked for there, I should have been honored and grateful to work for them in Colorado.

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Jeff Technician
Lake Hughes, California
Jeff Default
 

To not get paid for your time is slave labor! Find a new employer, this one does not value you!

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Greg Technician
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Greg Default
 

Tip of the iceburg... we get to zero-out brake inspections if they buy a 1 hr brake job, which includes burnishing at no charge/rotor turning- buy one, get one free; cooling system inspections if they purchase repairs; and extended diagnostics such as communications failures or elusive driveability issues. We basically get to work on em til we find THE issue that resolves the complaint. I…

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Shani Technician
Toronto, Ontario
Shani Default
 

Just to provide an update here as the discussion continues, I left the employer who originally drove me to start this post. After trying to make it work then things progressively getting worse I decided to leave. My current employer treats his employees fairly and tries to make sure everyone is satisfied with all aspects of the job. I've been at the new place for about 5 months now so I've been…

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Edward Owner
San Antonio, Texas
Edward Default
 

Shani Great job, Shani and the continuation of striving to become the best technician continues on. Never leave your guard down, learn the most you can, keep those values and passed it on to future technicians.

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