Are we whores?

July 16, 2003 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Probably. Those of us in the autobody industry have been prostituting ourselves for decades. The average autobody technician earns around $35,000 in Connecticut. The average bodyshop’s net profit is less than 10%. The average autobody repair labor rate is about half that of similar businesses like mechanical shops, electronics repair, etc.

Yeah, we’re a bunch of cheap whores. Instead of selling our bodies, we sell our souls. Our self-respect. Our futures. Our industry’s future.

Our apathy and lack of collective brain power has gotten us where we are today. Our industry is threatened. It’s threatened by insurance companies. It’s threatened by the pressures to sacrifice quality for low costs. It’s threatened by the dwindling work force. It’s threatened by our own ignorance.

Believe it, insurance executives laugh at us. They shake their heads at us in pity. They have little respect for us. Not because we are difficult, but because we are easy. Easy like a $20 whore needing something to fill her syringe and stick in her arm. We are neither a challenging adversary nor respected partner. They toss a few coins into our hats in return for our tricks.

Not until we begin to respect ourselves will the insurance industry respect us. Not until we demand fair compensation, that on par with the mechanical repair industry, will we be able to attract new, bright, eager and talented people to join the autobody trade. A good autobody technician should be earning more than a good mechanic–much more. We will never be able to offer that pay at the current labor rates.

Running a clean, honest shop at the current labor rates, parts, materials and sublet mark-ups is merely giving you something to do every day. Some where to go. It’s allowing you to exist, not prosper.

Those running not-so-clean and honest shops and making a good living have built a house of cards. When the winds of change come blowing through they will be left with nothing.

A handful of shop owners and managers have made a difference recently. They are working their way out of the gutter. But the work is excruciatingly slow without everyone pitching in. When you say, “Yeah, we’ll fix it for that price.” you kick someone back toward that gutter.

Get busy. Get smart. Get respect. Get what you earn and deserve.

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4 Comments on Are we whores?

  1. What the? on Thu, 17th Jul 2003 7:13 pm
  2. I never thought of it like this. Bend me over.

  3. Barrett/Fl on Thu, 20th Nov 2003 6:59 am
  4. A wise man once told me that only whores and attorneys charge by the hour. So I guess since we’re not attorneys….

    If repairers learned to charge procedural costs instead of ridiculously low rates multiplied by ridiculously low labor time guides….we wouldn’t have an industry average of 2 to 10% net profit in this industry, and the likelihood that many shops would no longer need to commit fraud or sell themselves out by seeing insurers as their partners!

    Utilizing procedural costs to sell your services is fairer, allows you to remain competitive and will keep you from legal problems where as you charge for more labor than a normal workweek can produce! Some may recall attorneys being nailed for over billing a few years back and who do you suppose will be coming after you when you get accused of doing the same thing to their clients!? From a marketing point, its much easier to sell a job where the procedural costs are illustrated in actual dollars and cents than some .2 and .4 etc., that the average consumer doesn’t understand and merely fuels to further their distrust of our industry.

    Take the little ole’ lady who’s window regulator isn’t working and you charge an hour and give it back to her in 38 minutes, and bill her for an hour! Wouldn’t it make much more sense to bill her $65.00 for the service regardless of how long it takes? It would be a bargain for her and she’ll feel value for your service (as long as the window operates properly!) and likely trust and use and refer you in the future.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense in assessing a collision repair in dollars vs. hours or tenths of hours of which you have no control over the labor time guides? Base your procedural costs upon actual experience…if you have none than refer to the guides but charge in dollars…not fictitious “Units” or some guess-stimated time some publisher comes up with to appease their insurer customers!

    Estimating and charging in dollars is easy, effective and will drive the insurance industry nuts because of their comfort level and the so-called PCP of which you will be deviating…as if it ever existed!


  5. Bob Almon on Thu, 12th Feb 2004 6:00 pm
  6. I have had my own shop for 30 yrs.It would be nice to see our rates meet or exceed other fields that require 80% less knowledge.I could go on for eons about this topic,buy that says enough,,.Thanks for the oppertunity to dump some frustation,,. Bob

  7. Rodman on Fri, 22nd Oct 2004 12:18 pm
  8. Body shops DO HAVE the power to stop insurers from steering the tide of the industry, IF all shops stopped accepting less than 60.00 per hour for their services insurers would have no choice but to pay it, imagine how many wrecks would sit unrepaired and how many rental cars insuresr would be paying for on cars that were not being worked on, do you really think they have enough DRP’s to do ALL the work for nothing? as soon as the DRP guys saw insurers running scared they would raise their rates too, its SO SIMPLE its stupid….. but then again body shop owners never were too bright… after all most of them were bodymen first…;]

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