Automotive Labor Times Guide: What to Look For When Selecting a Digital Labor Guide

As an auto repair shop owner, you know how important accurate labor times are for locking in your profit margin on labor and growing your business. But how do you find a labor guide that you can trust and that works with your shop’s estimate process?

Switching to a newer labor guide can be tough for some shops. Many shop owners already trust their physical, paper labor guide; they’ve been using it for years! But that guide probably doesn’t include labor times for repairs on newer vehicles—not to mention it takes up a lot of space.

Digital labor guides are becoming standard across the industry because of how accessible they are and how they can be continuously updated with labor times for newer vehicles.

If you’re still using your old labor guide, or even a digital labor guide that isn’t working for you, it might be time to find a labor guide that will better meet the needs of your shop. Here are some key features to look for to narrow down your search.

Does It Pull Comprehensive Labor Times From Industry Leaders?

Reliability is crucial when it comes to labor guides. If the times are way off, your shop could either underestimate labor times and lose money, or overestimate labor times and overcharge customers.

Reliable times come from reliable sources. So, one of the most important features to look for in a labor guide is where it sources information about its labor times. If that labor time data is from an unreliable source, you’ll risk creating labor rates that are either too low or too high. But with a labor guide that pulls comprehensive labor time data from industry leaders, you can keep your shop profitable with the peace of mind that you’re basing your labor rates off of accurate labor times.  

Does It Add New Labor Times in Realtime?

The auto repair industry is constantly undergoing changes. To stay competitive, it’s crucial that the labor guide you pick adds labor times for new vehicles and jobs periodically.

For instance, let’s say you use a labor guide that hasn’t been updated since 2015. If a customer walks in with a 2019 Honda Accord, your shop’s service advisors won’t have a good foundation to use when creating labor estimates.

When researching different labor guides, find out how often the teams behind each guide add new times. Ideally, you want a labor guide that pushes updates in realtime, right alongside rapid shifts in the industry. Realtime updates will ensure that you’re always working with the most relevant information.

Is It Built Into Your Shop Management Software?

Chances are that you’re already using a shop management system that includes features such as repair scheduling, parts ordering, and DVIs.

Having a shop management system with a built-in labor guide has several advantages. In short, you’ll:

  • Avoid spending time painstakingly digging through multiple systems. Instead, you’ll be able to access everything via one login.
  • Get better functionality. Since the labor guide is built-in, navigating through everything will be more intuitive.
  • Be able to quickly pull labor times as you build labor matrices, and will then easily be able to incorporate that data into each new repair order.
  • Have an easier time training your team because they’ll be learning how to use the labor guide in the context of a system they’ll be using every day.
  • Gain high value for the money you’re paying. Rather than making separate payments for separate solutions, you get a better deal by sticking with one solution that has a built-in labor guide.

Here’s how Tekmetric user Stephane Grabina of Excluservice puts it: “We saved a bunch of money, and the estimate writing process is much faster because the labor guide is built into the system.”

Is It Easy-to-Use?

Think about the times you’ve had to deal with a clunky piece of software. It probably involved lots of wasted time and frustration as you tried to figure it all out.

Labor times are one of the most important data points for your shop. If you and your service advisors have to hunt down the information you need from a difficult-to-navigate user interface, you risk losing valuable time that you could instead be putting toward growing your business.

An intuitive labor guide also has a major benefit when it comes to training service advisors. The easier a labor guide is to use, the faster you can train your team—and have them building accurate estimates and repair orders in no time.  

Always seek to get a demo of the labor guide you’re considering so you can see first-hand what the interface looks like, and what it’s like to navigate it. During the demo, pay attention to these factors:

  • Does the labor guide have repairs categorized in a clear, logical way?
  • Is it easy to find the repair type you’re looking for?
  • Does the labor guide list all labor operations associated with a job?
  • Does the labor guide list all parts associated with a job?
  • Does the labor guide make it easy for you to view the average times associated with each repair?
  • Can you easily pull the information from the labor guide into a labor matrix?

Is It Backed by a Responsive Customer Support Team?

No matter how intuitive and reliable a software solution is, it’s important that it’s backed by a responsive customer support team. With any type of software, there will inevitably be feature updates and bug fixes.

If your team ever encounters an issue with the software, you’ll want to have access to a steadfast customer support team who can help you quickly work through those challenges. Dependable support will minimize downtime at your shop—you’ll spend less time trying to reassure annoyed customers who just want to get back on the road while you’re trying to figure out why your shop management system is down.

Additionally, having a responsive customer support team means you’ll be able to suggest new features, as well as tweaks to existing features, for them to consider. A team that’s receptive to your feedback means that your voice will be heard as the labor guide, and the solution it’s built into, continues to evolve.


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