A lot of repairs can't be considered for warranty pay until the cause and solution are known, and then the mechanic has no involvement in that paperwork or decision-making. The service adviser is the first person who will try to get something covered under warranty but he often has to collaborate with the dealer's warranty administrator. Even when something is technically out-of-warranty, Chrysler dealers are given a specific number of dollars each year they can use to pay for repairs that really shouldn't have happened. It's a customer satisfaction program and the dealer has the discretion on when to use those dollars.
Honda dealers may be different but as a Chrysler mechanic I preferred warranty work. If I wanted to install additional parts to insure the quality of the repair, there was no customer to argue with. It's true flat rate for warranty work pays less than customer-pay but the difference is not that significant. I was paid two tenths of an hour less for a 4-wheel alignment under warranty but it was extremely rare that two wheels needed adjustment. For that slightly higher customer-pay the vehicle usually needed both front wheels and at least one rear one adjusted and that took a lot longer. With cars still in warranty rusty nuts and bolts were never a problem. The vehicle must leave in like-new condition. If an exhaust system part needed to be replaced the whole welded system was installed. When it was out-of-warranty I had to cut off that part, then fit and align the new part. The total repair took longer even though fewer parts were replaced.
With warranty work we also never needed to wait for approval to go ahead with the repairs. When customers couldn't be reached to approve out-of-warranty repairs I sometimes had to push their cars outside so I could start other jobs while waiting for that approval. Pushing cars around is non-productive work that gets billed to no one and it doesn't show up on your paycheck.
Even when a repair was paid for by Chrysler, that had no impact on my paycheck. I was paid the same hourly rate either way. It was the dealer that was reimbursed at a lower rate. That simply cut away a small part of the profit the dealership earned.
You might try to "fly through a job faster" when it's warranty but the nice thing about flat rate is when you mess something up and have to do it over again, you do it for free. You lose twice because you're doing the second attempt for no pay, AND you can't bring in the next job and start it until the first problem you caused is fixed. The dealership loses because they have lost those hours of your productivity that they can't bill anyone for. They also lose the car owner's confidence and that person is likely to never come back. The customer loses because they're without their car, and they often become angry when they have to take off from work, ... Again, ... To have you fix your mistake. I was very lucky that the dealership owners I worked for never once in ten years expressed the slightest concern that I worked slower than everyone else. It wasn't until a few years after I left that the office manager told me they appreciated that I took the time to make sure my alignments and brake jobs were done to the highest professional standards. I also found out later that I had been rewarded with larger hourly pay raises than all the other mechanics even though I booked fewer hours than the other guys. Those are the checks and balances of the flat rate system. There is also no reason to think you're earning less money doing warranty work. The exception would be if the dealer is paying you a lower hourly rate for that work. We have one dealership owner in my city who pulls that on his mechanics so, yes, they DO have an incentive to cut corners or race through a job. I can't speak for all Chrysler dealers but mine never paid me less for a job based on who was paying the bill. You're right about knowing up front if it was warranty or customer pay because it was listed on the repair order, but that often got changed later and I would never be so arrogant as to think anyone was going to consult me about those changes. I just did the work.
As for "who is paying for this", you do need to be careful and respectful of customers' costs but ultimately it is the customer who always pays and they deserve your very best service. The cost of warranty repairs is built into the cost of the car they purchased just like they purchased tires, a running engine, and working light bulbs. To provide substandard service because the car owner is simply collecting on what he rightfully paid for is equivalent to ripping him off, and your service manager should have it explained that way to him. My dealership owners have four dealerships in four cities and all of them are swamped with repeat customers thanks to their customer-friendly business practices and the support they get from Chrysler. I heard similar stories from other mechanics at the Chrysler schools I attended. I can say the same thing about a number of new and used car dealers in my city. I don't know your service manager and I shouldn't assume anything based on one comment, but I get the impression he is of the same mentality as the half dozen dealerships owned in my city by the one rather disreputable owner. That guy squeezes every last penny out of each customer while he has the chance because he knows there's a good chance they're never coming back, and he looks for ways to justify paying his employees less. There is a lot of frustration, high employee turnover, and very little repeat business.
I also don't know the context of the conversation when your manager made that comment so I could be reading way too much into it. Regardless, as professionals, we all should be providing the best service possible on every job, and worry about that first. How we get paid should be a long way down that list of priorities, and how well you do the work should not be impacted by who is paying the dealership for your services. If your paycheck is your top priority, the quality of your work is not.
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 AT 12:24 AM