One of the most common questions we are asked at BCI  is "How do I determine my labor rate?"  For most dealerships, the process of setting a labor rate begins with calling all the competitors in the market, asking them what their labor rate is and then making sure that they are somewhere close to the competitors. In our company, we jokingly refer to this method as “pooling ignorance”.  Why, you might ask, is this not a good method? Well most of your competitors do the same thing to set their labor rate and ultimately it has nothing to do with the market. It’s just a group of dealers who are in a race to lose money in their service departments.

So how should you set your labor rate? There are a couple of methods we recommend. If you want to do it the simple way, call your local car dealership and find out where they are. In most cases you will find that their labor rate is right for the market. They don’t call other car dealerships. They have worked with the manufacturer to determine where they need to be in their market to be profitable when considering the cost of techs, the physical service department, the training, and tools their techs need to perform work so that the customer is satisfied and will come back to both the dealership and the manufacturer.

If a dealer wants to use this method, we recommend being no more than 10% below their local car or truck dealers. If you don’t have a local car or truck dealer in your community, then go back and do some basic math. Your first question is, “How much will it cost me to get a good technician?” Many of you may think: “It’s impossible to find good technicians in my area.” I would disagree and say, “It’s hard to find good, inexpensive technicians in any area today.”  It’s not that they are not there; they are just not cheap.  If you are paying $20 per hour and losing technicians, then $20 is not working. It might need to be $25, $30 or even $40 per hour. It doesn’t matter the number, because it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your market and the expertise you are looking for. We know that in our system for service departments, we can pay a tech that is billing 8 hours in an 8 hour day, 30 percent of our posted labor rate. So, if I need to pay a tech $30 per hour to find and keep one, I know that my labor rate is going to have to be at $90 per hour. If I can get a tech for $25 per hour then I would need to have a labor rate of around $85 per hour. This makes my service department profitable for the dealership.  Setting your labor rate correctly is one of the most essential elements to have a service department that produces money like an ATM machine.

Do you need assistance with accessing your posted labor rate? Give us a call at 800.480.0737!

Bob Clements

About Bob Clements

Bob is the president of Bob Clements International Inc., a training and development company specializing in creating high performance dealerships and organizations. BCI works hands-on with dealers and manufacturers through on-site visits, Dealer Success Groups©, management and sales boot camps, webinars and speaking events. Bob is also the author of the book, “The 8 Greatest Sales Secrets in the World” and a contributing writer for Rural Lifestyle Dealer Magazine. Over the last 30 years, Bob has spoken to thousands of owners, sales people and businesses, giving them the tools they need to achieve personal and financial freedom. His organization and his leading edge development packages have helped to improve dealerships across America.