Wages

y2kbaja

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Yeah California is double min wage for a small business like mine it's currently $28 an hour and $30 as of Jan 1st 2023. So basically currently $1,120 a week if here 40 hours. $1,200 a week starting next year. So you give everyone $35-$40 an hour flat rate. A guy at 35 an hour has to bill 32 hours of labor. $40 an hour tech has to bill 28 hours. That's break even right now. So if they can bill 50-60+ and leave early every day, they can make bank. But it's dependent on business.
Are any shops making bank right now? We're dead. Down 20% customers since pre-pandemic and warranty (what I do) is down 30% over last year.
 

Blood Eagle

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Are any shops making bank right now? We're dead. Down 20% customers since pre-pandemic and warranty (what I do) is down 30% over last year.

I can't speak for others but I lost 2 techs from pandemic to current. One wanted to sit on his ass and collect a check. The other went to where the grass was (theoretically) greener. Changed the business over from multiple technicians to one technician and raised the labor rate to account for the lack of volume from downsizing. All in all working out pretty well. I have a capable guy who is hungry and also an animal.
 
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Sheepdog

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Are any shops making bank right now? We're dead. Down 20% customers since pre-pandemic and warranty (what I do) is down 30% over last year.
I had a second career, managing auto repair shops. When the conditions are favorable, anyone can do it. When conditions are not favorable, THEN you'll really see who has what it takes.

Eventually I worked my way into specializing in fixing shops that were not profitable enough. I don't think I ever managed a place that I didn't at least double their gross, while fixing financial leakage, staffing problems, procedures, and marketing along the way. And in the case of dealerships, the ripple effect tended to fix some issues in sales, parts, body shop, and office.

There is ALWAYS money to be made, PLENTY of money, you just need to know how to identify it and collect it.

Independents, dealers, it's all the same thing. I seriously doubt that anyone would pay me for consulting, because it's not all about fancy colored pie charts, "systems", and buzz words- it's all just basic stuff. Auto repair is not a "car" business, it's a people business.

But it is hard work, and it can be brutal. Whenever an independent opened up that looked like it might eat into my piece of the pie, I'd go over and at least warn them that they needed to leave. They usually didn't, so I'd target them specifically and put them out of business.

And when I would leave one place and go to work at another, I would take much of the customers and all the best techs with me, because they knew I'd take care of them.
 

Sheepdog

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I have a capable guy who is hungry and also an animal.
I had an animal once. It was about 1992. I inherited him- he wasn't someone that I found and hired, it was actually the opposite- I was hired because nobody else could feed him.

He was a 23 year old kid from Anaheim that dressed like Don Johnson in Miami Vice, and drove a late-model 7-series BMW.

I think if I showed up at the shop at 2:30 in the morning, driving a rental car he'd never seen before, and wore a disguise, he'd be there wanting to be let into the shop to work. I could show up at 5:00 in the morning, or on a Sunday, and he'd show up, rack a whole bunch of cars, raid the parts department, go into my office and grab all the R.O.s, and flag 30 hours. And I'd have to shut off the lights and compressor to get him to leave, every single night.

He used to tell people that he made more money on accident, than most people made on purpose.

I've never had one like that before or since.
 
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JDDurfey

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I am known as a "fixer" in my company. I have fixed my third shop and was just asked yesterday to consider transferring to another division and start fixing their shops. After seeing what people are getting paid in some places to turn wrenches it looks like I am far underpaid. However, I get 60 plus hours a week and have excellent benefits. I am going to ask for a raise and go to salary at the next shop.

I am not fixing a shop that has walk-in customers. I am dealing with company owned equipment. But finding mechanics that will take pride in their work and not cut corners is difficult at times. I've have some good mechanics now, but I had to cut a bunch of bad ones to find good ones.

In my current shop I have some great mechanics, but for most of them their knowledge is limited to oil field type work. We work on Semi trucks, pickups and oil field specific equipment. Most of my guys are paid in the $25-$30 range. My guys get about 65-70 hours a week. I will admit, many of our competitors pay in the $35 range for mechanics.

When I am looking at a resume I look at three major things. Where they went to school...not because that is important, but if they went to UTI, I throw their resume in the trash. I won't hire anyone that went there. I look at their years of experience, this is important to me. And I look at how many places they worked. Bad mechanics either don't last in the biz, or they jump from place to place.

I never went to school. I grew up around it, and decided to start turning wrenches at 32. I took over payments on my dad's service truck and went to work. My first job turning wrenches was for myself. Did it for 6 years working on Ag equipment and construction equipment mostly. I had to ask a lot of questions. I'd never rebuilt an engine, transmission, or hydraulic cylinder. But I learned how to do it and I wouldn't hesitate to tackle any project now. During that time I encountered two graduates from UTI that couldn't diagnose anything whatsoever! One of them was trying to wire up a simple toggle switch and hooked ground to one post and positive to the other and then couldn't figure out why the fuse kept blowing! The other was actually worse! I started working in the oil field in 2012 because a bad drought had most of my customers not needing my services.

The biggest issue I found while self-employed was the lack of info. Caterpillar does not like to share torque specs with competing mechanics. However, if you own the Cat equipment you have access to most of the info you need. In fact, none of the manufacturers like to share info. Diagnostic work with a computer would add a lot of expense that I never had. The Cummins software is about $1000 a year and the Detroit software is around $700.
 

43mod

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My animal took me from one so called manager type and two guys w tools to doing 100 % of it on his own . He now owns 25% of my business . The one i bought my partners half of and then sold it to mr animal at a 50% discount . I am carrying his paper on a hand shake . Love the gravel in his gut and fire in his eyes . He left the shop at 330pm to go change a turbo today . Now my kid is hauling butt up there w trailer to bring engine home , bad fan bearings as well . Tomorrow it gets the radiator removed and engine / turbo heat exchangers installed . He hates radiators and fans . I would bet $500 it will be back on the job by noon Saturday . Hungry young man and a good father / husband . Love it .
 

43mod

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Could have gone in the classifieds thread . $20 an hour gets you a guy to hold a shovel . What do you think their shop rate is ?
 

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Bro_Gill

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And 10 years later, 20 bucks an hour is what you earn at a Mickey D's in some places, and they don't plan to use you for management ever.

And this-

"Seems that the school systems have made kids believe that the trades are for losers who could not go to college."

They keep telling every manjack in Jr. High that someday, you can be the president if you just go to college. Many of these kids say (in 8th grade) "Prezdint of wha?"
 

BRINGTHERUCKUS

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The Journeyman Lineman pool is rough. Hiring on to a utility in a small market is almost impossible. I posted a job for 3 years with no applicants. Contractors have better luck but even they struggle getting good guys. We pay around $46/hr plus crazy union OT/call out pay foremen, troublemen more. Contractor is about the same but with $105 per diem.

I have 2 Troublemen that can retire tomorrow, one is out next month. I won't be able to replace him for months if at all. With calls and everything they are making $150-$250K.

Hell, I can't really get a qualified applicant for my "entry" level office position that starts at $32/hr.

I went the college route, but it was never forced, what was forced was a secondary education. Trade school, apprenticeship, college etc.
 
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