Questions and comments about using ProDemand or ShopKeyPro information modules

Estimator Labor Times

Estimator Labor Times

Postby scgms1 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:33 am

I looked, and maybe I'm not looking in the correct location, or there isn't anything...

How about a forum specifically related to labor times? Maybe it's just me, but I notice more times that fall short versus times that are realistic, or too high. I'm aware of how GM used to do time studies and can't vouch for how they're doing them today. I do know some GM techs, and if anything the complaints are worse today than when I was working at GM dealers.

I only work on GM vehicles over here and I have a good idea on most times and adjust accordingly.

Here's a specific example on a job that I haven't done before. 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a factory sun roof. The labor time to replace the motor. The estimator, estimates .8 hours. I went to GM SI and see a 17 step procedure and that includes removing the headliner. If I hadn't gone to the SI I would assume that's a really simple job.

That's kinda' the point to spend money on shop management software, so I can make money, not lose it. In this case, if I hadn't looked at the procedures and the customer expected a $XX job for the labor, I would have stopped and called them back looking for at least 6 times what I originally estimated. One of us isn't going to be happy, and one of us possibly won't be coming back.

Thoughts?
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby timbre4 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:29 am

I have moved your post to Using ProDemand as this would be the likely area to discuss it. I would add that while our "service manual cover-to-cover OE content" really kicks in around 2004-2005 for repair content, the methodology for estimating labor times has not changed that I am aware of.
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby ricmorin » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:38 am

Regardless of which labor guide I am using, I never accept the time of an unfamiliar job without checking the procedure. That is written policy here and rarely am I caught with my pants down.
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby Tim Martin » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:22 pm

This thing of parts and labor estimator is an ongoing issue for us as well. I currently subscribe to MOD, Chilton, MOTOR and another one for labor comparison. Ironically, no two are alike. And, I do what has been suggested here, I go to the SI and look at the details of the process. I have had so often where I used only one estimator, made an estimate, did the job only to reliaze partway through that there is no way shape or form that it is getting done in the time I estimated. Frustrating and makes me upset to say the least. So, what do I do now?

Well, lets say we are replacing an engine in a 2000 Chevy pk tk. I will get the price of the parts I need, look at the four labor estimates I use, take the highest one and still add 15%. This often gets us close to where we need to be for time. I may lose a job or two in a year but at least I am not on a lost revenue ship. I also add the cost of reflashing the PCM, changing all the filters and fluids, and cleaning all the cosmetics of an engine.
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby scgms1 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:30 pm

In this digital age of instantaneous gratification it still amazes me that we're working under a system that was started by Henry Ford in the early 20th. century. It had its' time and place, but it seems like it's time to move past flat rate and the way we quote jobs.

I want to answer the question, "How much?" with, how long is a piece of string? While I would find it amusing, a lot of consumers would not, and have been trained to look at our profession as we're selling commodities. We don't have to look very far to see why they believe that. We're our own worst enemies. I still see quite a few shops that post loss leaders with pricing from when I started in this --- what ever it's called, from over 35 years ago. I guess there might be a day that the consumers wake up and decide Google is a waste of time; Amazon, Rock Auto, GM Parts For Less...might have 'part' (pun intended) of what is needed to repair your vehicle, but is missing a vital key to getting you back on the road - skilled labor. While we're on that subject there seems to be no shortage of disgruntled technicians that are willing to do side jobs because their ESO's (Evil Shop Owners) are cheap fxxx's that not only screw the techs, but the consumers as well.

I've digressed and let me step off of this rant and get back to the subject at hand. Labor times.

Currently I'm just going along for the ride. I do my part when I can, but this is a big ship and it's going to take more than a few to get it heading on the right course. The factories have a vested interest in keeping labor times low. (another source of amazement - dealer principles - owners, agree to get reimbursed for warranty by the factories using LTG's. Why are the dealer techs still paid based on that antiquated system?) Some of the operations are doable, especially with repetition, but I've noticed the days of pattern failures have passed.

It seems to me part of what I pay Mitchell for with their management program is accurate labor times. They do seem to do a good job of refining the program to put more money in my pocket, but the downfall has always been the LTG. I realize what it would take is someone actually doing time studies independent of the manufacturers, but what we get is regurgitated figures from the factories, which amounts to putting the mice in charge of the cheese. Sigh
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby Jeff @ Able Auto » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:37 am

I understand the frustration. On the other hand Mitchell can only provide the info, formatted for our use, that is provided by the makers. IMHO it would not be possible for Mitchell to do a time study on every job listed in order to provide a labor time guide. And if they did I'm surer there would still be discrepancies. WE need to be aware of the task at hand and adjust accordingly. Much like Tim, I always look up the procedure for an unfamiliar job and adjust time as needed.
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby timbre4 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:50 am

I would add that we do more than just take the OEM figures at face value; we have multiple ASE certification techs as editors to validate this as much as possible. We have a great relationship with most OEs and this actually serves as a two-way audit system. There have been times where we have provided feedback to them where they mistakenly changed a diagnostic, diagram or labor time and we discovered it was a carry-over as the vehicle platform hadn't changed or vice-versa, so the OEs have come to rely on us to audit for them as well. There are even some operations for Toyota trucks with two sets of labor times because it can be accomplished either by removing the engine or not removing it. This procedure has been verified and we provide our customers with BOTH so they can decide for themselves.

The labor product is distinctly separate from Manager SE; no amount of budget, enhancements or testing of Manager SE has any direct bearing on the labor guide other than interface to access it and transfer it back.

The number of vehicle platform variables to verify and document only grows exponentially; we do the best we can.It's an estimator, it's a guide; no stone tablet of absolutes is available in the marketplace that I'm aware of. If you discover any kind of discrepancy, our editorial staff is always happy to look into it.
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby scgms1 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:03 am

timbre4 wrote:It's an estimator, it's a guide; no stone tablet of absolutes is available in the marketplace that I'm aware of. If you discover any kind of discrepancy, our editorial staff is always happy to look into it.


Thanks for the reply and I understand. I never believed this was more than a guide, but where I do have issues -

Some of the times are so far off and do not account for "headliner removal," as in the example I gave above. On this topic, how come there are no labor ops for that procedure? (headliner removal, on any vehicle)

We know it's a "guide" but some entities I deal with - insurance companies & extended warranties take this at face value and that's the end of discussion as far as they're concerned, that's all they're paying. I understand I always have the option to decline work, or justify to the customer of why they have to come up with additional money to pay for something that is only partially covered as the LTG is wrong.

A lot of what we do is available to consumers as far as part pricing and labor times. We all realize that they have know idea of what's involved with running a business and the tooling and expertise to fix their vehicle, but when I tell someone it's 5 hours to replace a sun roof motor on their car and they can 'see' it only takes .8 of an hour, I've got a lot of 'splainin to do so I don't look like a crook. In this age of repercussion free reviews where anyone can post anything they want, I'd rather not give them anymore ammunition. With that said, some of the blessings I receive are the people and vehicles I don't have to deal with, but...

Thanks,
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Re: Estimator Labor Times

Postby timbre4 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:19 am

In the first post I mentioned "service manual cover-to-cover OE content" really kicks in around 2004-2005...", I'll spell that out further for clarification.

Prior to this change in editorial, much of the body/interior mechanical procedures and labor times were admittedly sparse. We used to do many things to conserve page counts as we were in the manuals business. Since the change, we have added tons of data for bumpers, grilles, door trim panels, window regulators, mirrors, dashboards, etc. for 2005 and newer vehicles.

We looked at all of the possibilities and made a conscious business decision based on the editorial costs involved, it would not be practical to go back to the prior years and bring them up to this new standard. We made that decision when such vehicles were 5-10 years old; now they are some 20-25 years old and falling off shops' radar. The better business case was to move forward and fund expanded maintenance, fluids, etc. for the median years of vehicles that most shops are seeing today.

Please know that our content support department has decades of OEM service manuals with full content (that may have not appeared in product) that can be shared with you if need be. 888-724-6742 and follow the prompts or drop them an email @: http://www.buymitchell1.com/form/productsupport.htm (link in this section)
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