If I had it my way, the industry pay-scale would be turned inside out. Fuck flat-rate, bullshit pay, and fuck anyone who agrees with it. Let’s pretend it was never implemented; let’s say it went like this.
- Technician Pay – a flat salary that the owner and mechanic both feel comfortable with. For instance, a not-so-decorated mechanic might be worth $40,000 a year. Seems like a good start, but the mechanic would be entitled to keep his end of the bargain: hustling, working, and not standing around counting wrenches in his/her toolbox just to milk the clock. Anyone that’s worked in a shop knows there’s always something to do.
- Time Worked – The first thing people think of when they hear salary is eighty-hour work weeks. Instead, the owner and mechanic could agree on a mandatory number of hours worked to complete a “work week,” say six days, forty-five hours. The technician would still be required to run a time clock, punching in and punching out for lunch, etc. And when the technician got to forty-five hours, the week would be over until the next work week began, unless they both agreed to put in the overtime.
- Vacation – Salary means getting paid every week, no matter what. Shop owners like to think that it’s only salary if you’re present in the shop, mean it’s more like “weekly” or “daily.” I say that’s bullshit.
For some reason, shop owners think that they’re untouchable and no one can fuck with them because no one’s pushed back yet. Things have to be even if a shop is going to max out its earning potential. Tension will rip apart a shop. I see it happen every day: mechanics work with their boss’s bullshit comments in the back of their minds and break things; they drag their feet just to piss the boss off because they’re not getting what they want; they refuse to help coworkers with jobs because they think they should be getting paid more… no one wins. It’s called a TEAM for a reason. Mechanic, technicians, and co-workers should be working together, not against one another to try and look better in the boss’s eyes when the next payday comes around. It’s sad, STOP MAKING IT A COMPETITION! WE’RE ON THE SAME TEAM! Workers should push each other to do better, not hold one another back. They should be collaborating on difficult diagnostic jobs and discussing what’s going on, figuring out problems together. As for shop owners, when a worked breaks something, they shouldn’t make him/her pay for it. They make you how much money? Give me a fucking break. Mistakes happen.
Imagine if the industry ran like this. Mechanics would go to work every day knowing that money was the last thing to be worried about. They could finally relax, clear their heads, and fix cars, instead of racing the clock or listening to another bullshit story about how they’re “costing the shop money” when the fact of the matter is even if they were to make thirty dollars an hour, flat-rate and a job paid ten hours of labor, and then lets say that the shop labor charge was one-hundred dollars an hour. A tech would have to work on that one vehicle for thirty five hours before it “cost” the shop any money at all. And that’s not even accounting for the money the shop owner has made on parts’ markups.
Could it work? With the right people? Absolutely. And I guarantee, if everyone were paid their worth, even if it were based on a hands-on testing or some kind of entrance exam to determine one’s basic understanding of necessary systems and orders of operations, it wouldn’t be such a cut-throat market to be a part of. Customers could walk into a shop and see everyone smiling, not just the asshole behind the desk counting the money in the safe for the umpteenth time. …fuckers.