Auto Service World
News   November 9, 2023   by Adam Malik

Why these pros don’t like flat rate pay

Image credit:

Picture this scenario: A shop has a pair of technicians. One is constantly reading up on new vehicle technology, they’re taking in training and embracing all that is coming. The other is the opposite. They come in, do their work and that’s it.

Yet, they’re both being paid the same. This is certain to cause angst, predicted Rob Morrison, Canadian fixed operations manager at Phaff/Lithia.

He called flat rate a “dinosaur” system during Centennial College’s Driving the Future 2.0 event. These days, the job of the technician is to tell a story to the customer through digital video inspections and other documentation. It’s “an articulate document” that describes what was done.

“You have a vast amount of learning that you have to do now that there is no financial reward for doing under the flat rate system,” Morrison said as part of a panel discussion. “You’re penalized in that system for becoming an expert at fixing the new stuff that you’re not going to be fast at and somebody is rewarded for shying away from embracing the new technologies.”

If someone just wants to do brakes, then they will because they’re not incentivized to go beyond that, he added. And in the end, it’s the customer who gets penalized.

“Because our most rewarding jobs are the things that are the basic maintenance on the car. That doesn’t make sense, right? It’s a silly system,” Morrison said.

Efficiency needs to be rewarded, he stressed. Morrison knows the change will eventually come. With a huge demand for skilled labour, the industry needs to change to attract those people in. They want to know they’ll be paid for being in the building “but they also want to know, they’re going to be rewarded for being better at what they do,” he said.

Morrison also pointed out that he’s seeing the idea being more and more embraced. “It’s recognized that [flat rate] is not an efficient system anymore.”

Print this page


6 Comments » for Why these pros don’t like flat rate pay
  1. Flat rate makes for dishonest technicians , short cuts and iffy work to make a tech beat the flat rate time

  2. We have never and will never do flat rate. Hourly or salary is the only way to go!

  3. Glenn Kroeze says:

    The aging customer fleet also makes the flat rate times allowed misleading and often unattainable, the older and rustier the average vehicle becomes the longer it takes to perform the work. Flat rate shouldn’t exist for anything more than 5 years old.

  4. In our town, the dealerships and Canadian Tires are flat rate. Both Canadian tires stores are almost closed due to not finding any technicians, the one next to our one store only has a licenced tech 2 days a week and one lube technician and they have a 12 bay shop. We have got some really good hires from dealerships because the techs are tired of “warranty work” which is significantly less than regular flat rate pay. Its a win win for the independents who can score some specialized technicians.

  5. Barry Makins says:

    Another problem that has occurred in the past is where a well learned technician gets paid a flat rate of 1.1 hours to repair a well known problem on a wiring harness while a lesser learned mechanic gets paid 3.1 hours straight time for the same repair. Is there any wonder why techs are retiring early or leaving the trade because of this one reason alone.
    I have been saying for years that the more capable techs are getting penalized and the less capable techs are getting rewarded. Glad I am done.

  6. Bob Paff says:

    Flat-rate technicians have been forced to cut corners and oversell because their focus is on their paychecks….not quality service.
    And they wonder why our industry has a bad reputation.

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *