This post comes from Autoblog Open Road, our contributor network. The author is solely responsible for the content, and any opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Autoblog and its editors.
On the most basic level each service performed on a car has a preset time that it pays, i.e. an oil change may pay one half hour. If the technician completes the job in 15 minutes the pay is still a half hour. If the job takes one hour the pay is still a half hour. So for services there is not much of an issue. When we talk about diagnostics we can get into some trouble. Imagine you spend half a day trying to figure something out but only get paid for one or two hours of it. By the end of the pay period you may not even get paid for 40 hours even though you worked for 40. On the other side of the coin technicians can turn 80 hour per week or more and only actually work only 40 hours. But is this the best system for todays world? Cars are getting more complex. In the case of hybrids repairs can actually kill you if corners are cut. How many customers cars get put back together incompletely when the technician is behind on the job?
Technicians in other countries are paid a salary. Given the vast changes in the automotive business models over the years the antiquated flat rate system may need an overhaul as well. I have personally witnessed repairs, (after the fact) of the kind where the technician was having trouble with a repair and didn't put the car back together correctly. It infuriates customers and may even drive them to another brand. Given how low brand loyalty is with the current young buying car generation, service becomes important. If technicians were paid salary and didn't have to be concerned about beating the clock on every job it is my opinion that customer service, safety and first visit repairs would all see an increase.