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Run a Shop Smoother with Automotive Labor Times Guides

Run a Shop Smoother with Automotive Labor Times Guides

September 26, 2023

Despite your best efforts, some jobs end up costing more time and money than planned. And that hurts your bottom line. So, how do you set up your shop to deliver on time – no matter how big the job? 

Wisely, the most successful shops turn to an automotive labor times guide. This digital tool creates accurate repair estimates while organizing and scheduling the work to meet them. Not only do they create bang-on estimates, they monitor and track progress of a repair and avoid costly duplication.

In short, they ensure you use all the talents and resources in your auto repair shop. As a result, your shop runs as smoothly as a recently tuned-up engine.

Measuring  Automotive Labor Time

Automotive labor time reflects the industry-standard measurement of the time required to complete specific common repairs or maintenance tasks. Of course, those times may vary depending on the technician’s experience or parts availability. Above all, they give you a reasonable, yet ideal, number to shoot for.

Each labor time factors in various elements, such as:

  • diagnostics
  • repairs
  • part replacements
  • testing

With these in mind, each task shows up in an estimate as in hours and fractions of hours. This helps you tell customers when the car will be ready for pickup. Further, it calculates an expected cost for the technicians’ workflow and time under the hood or the hoist.

Using labor time standards helps your staff determine and price auto repairs based on labor charges. By offering the same rates to every person seeking a brake job or water pump replacement, you treat every person fairly. This consistency matters if customers compare notes or consider recommending you to a friend or family member.

Even better, it increases your auto repair shop’s efficiency. By planning each tech’s time, you create a predictable workflow that facilitates scheduling, parts orders and breaks. That pays off with less stress and a happier workplace.

The Benefits of Adding an Automotive Labor Time Guide to Your Shop

Once you start using an automotive labor time guide, you will wonder how you ever operated without one. It impacts every aspect of running a thriving repair shop.

For fun, let’s look at the top 10 reasons you need a labor guide in your shop:

  1. Cost EstimationCustomers trust shops that stick with the price quoted to them. Avoid awkward conversations by getting the labor rate right the first time.
  2. Profitability – When you know how long each repair should take, you can slip in last-minute requests. That adds to your profits without throwing your shop into chaos.
  3. Efficient Scheduling – Stop underestimating labor times and putting your techs under unnecessary pressure. Instead, use their time optimally with less downtime waiting for the next order.
  4. Accurate Billing – When you get the auto repair estimate right, it takes less time to convert it into the final invoice. The closer you hit the original number, the happier your customer will be.
  5. Warranty and Insurance Claims – Manufacturers and insurers expect shops to deliver consistent prices. By working within their estimates, you dodge paying techs more than budgeted. 
  6. Technician Compensation – Whether you pay flat or hourly rates, you keep your staff motivated and on-track with the repairs of the day. By determining precise estimates, you pay them fairly and can offer incentives when they excel based on clear guidelines.
  7. Inventory Management – With clarity on repair times, you can decide whether to keep parts in stock or order them just in time. Keeping fewer items in stock lowers your overhead, inventory management time and clutter.
  8. Control – When techs know how long you expect a repair to take, the pros will work towards that goal. This helps you weed out the workers who want to look busy and keep the productive ones.
  9. Customer Trust – Customers coming in for a car repair want honesty and transparency. By delivering on your promises, you show them that you value their time and money.
  10. Competitive Advantage – Other shops will always try to steal your customers. Don’t give them a chance to question your ethics or pricing based on wonky estimates. Lock down those details and you’ll become bulletproof!

Calculating Fair Labor Times for Your Services

As much as experience feeds into your prices, turning to an automated solution frees up time and brain power. Take these four steps to set up your shop:

Use a Good Auto Repair Labor Guide

Relying on a reputable auto repair labor guide takes a lot of guessing out of your day. Their databases arose from thousands of shops during millions of repairs. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – or a pricing model.

Set Up a Labor Matrix

Face it, some cars take longer to service or repair than others. By generating a labor matrix, you add more time for makes and models that put key modules in harder-to-reach places. Customize it once then use it over and over again.

Use Canned Services

If you service the same models each week, why start from scratch every time? By creating canned jobs, you put in the time and parts needed then adjust as needed. This saves valuable minutes that really add up.

Hire Experienced Technicians

Skilled and experienced technicians know what to do and use their time more efficiently. Invest in training and mentoring your new hires to grow into these priceless champions for your shop.


In a service-based business, time impacts every aspect of your profitability. Whether your staff wile away extra minutes or you waste time chasing inventory, these gaps add up. When you know how each piece of the day should come together, you can plan and predict your workflow. That’s the power of an automotive labor times guide.

Having an automotive labor times guide in your arsenal empowers you to inform your customers more accurately. By impressing them, you earn a reputation as a trustworthy shop and bring in more repeat business.

Likewise, digital vehicle inspections play into this equation. By adding accurate labor times to DVIs, Autoflow streamlines your processes even further. With automation, you can skip the transfer of data between inspections, estimates and invoices. 

We’d love to show you how it works and how it will revolutionize your operations. Book a demo of Autoflow’s services TODAY and start earning more profits on future repairs.

Chris Cloutier

Chris Cloutier

Architect/President at Autoflow

The Desire for Continuous Improvement

As an auto repair shop owner of Golden Rule Auto Care, Chris Cloutier realized the need for a better way to communicate with his customers as he observed how communication gaps created bottleneck situations and wasted valuable rack time.

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Chris Cloutier