Flat Rate.

Flat Rate Pay: Every job that is brought into the dealership is assigned a time in which the job should be accomplished. This time is based on how long it takes the average mechanic to complete a particular job. For example, an oil change may pay two-tenths (12 minutes) of an hour. The mechanic will get paid for two-tenths of an hour regardless of how long it takes him to complete.

With time, a mechanic will become more experienced and as a result will become faster than the "average" time. In theory, they have the opportunity to work 40-hour weeks but actually clock more than 40-hours of flat-rate time. This is when being a mechanic at a dealership can become lucrative.

The terrible downside with the flat rate system is that it forces mechanics to fight over the jobs that can be done the fastest and get paid the most. This also increases the need to find something else to fix on a car, something that my not necessarily need to be fixed. Hording jobs can also lead a mechanic to line up several cars for himself to work on, thereby increasing the waiting time per vehicle. Beyond this, there is an unspoken hierarchy among mechanics; who has been there the longest and who is at the bottom of the totem pole. If you've been there the longest, then chances are you're getting the gravy. GRAVY: Jobs that require little effort, but pay the most.

Furthermore, if a shop has a bad week, a mechanic--regardless of his place in the line-up or his ability to beat the times, may not make his 40 hours. If there's no work, there's no work and lack of work does not discriminate. This makes for budgeting or saving money very difficult as week to week paychecks can be inconsistent and can vary widely.

Big Red has recently turned flat rate and it's a source of concern. He's the low on the totem pole and not much work is coming into his dealership. It makes me nervous. My pay is inconsistent as a daily substitute and will end in a few weeks with the school year. I can't get another job because my new job will begin July 7, but the gravy won't be showing up until mid to late August (shite!). I'm stuck in terms of my income.

I think, no let me change that, I know this summer is going to be kept close to home. Short trips if any at all, and bargain hunting (when the need arises) for sure. Lots of casseroles (I have several yummy recipes...) and plenty o' movies via Netflix. Trips to the library instead of Borders, and ceiling fan use instead of/or to assist the AC.

It's not like we've never lived on a tight budget, but I was looking forward to not having to resort to the short leash. And who is to say that things won't turn around at the shop, right? One of the long-timers is said to be looking for another job which will help to spread the gravy. It may just be that things turn out alright and we're not eating hot dogs 4 of 7 days out of the week.

I'm giving us this weekend before we start to pull in the reigns. We had this trip planned to Ohiopyle for months, and we're not destitute, so it's still on. The tour & brunch at Fallingwater on Sunday has been paid for, so all that's left is the B&B and whatever food we eat. I'm going to enjoy myself and not worry about the dollar signs. There will be plenty of time for that later.

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