At Wally’s Speed Shop we bill on time and materials for most jobs. We get asked about estimates and billing all the time, and there is some confusion around this, but it is actually very simple. We have chosen to bill every two weeks using the actual time and materials required to complete the work approved by the customer.
This allows us to have the most honest and transparent reporting of the labor and materials required to complete the necessary work. Scope creep is a real thing we deal with on a project-by-project basis. This can be due to a customer wanting to change the plans or finding poor previous workmanship that affects our ability to turn out a quality product (see Zero Point).
We can mitigate most of this with a thorough inspection (see inspection blog), but we can’t catch all of it until we get into the work. So, to be consistent the only billing that we use is time and materials.
When I take my 2015 Lexus in for work they give me an estimate and stick to it, why can’t you do that? Late model cars use a universally accepted aftermarket program that give the estimator the parts and labor required for almost every service/repair that exists and those shops charge $160-$200/hour.
That does not exist for classic cars, and most late model cars have not been treated like classic cars have been for the last 70 years. If we overestimated repairs times and charged $200/hour we would not have a business.
So rather than abandon the classic cars we love so much we work with our customer’s and their budgets to decide how to repair their cars in a proper manner. The customer has to be willing to be flexible and have some financial runway past the ballpark estimates that we start with.
Until we get our crystal ball back from the repair shop, we will be unable to work on a flat rate or hard bid style of billing. Classic car building/repair are similar but no where near close to late model production vehicle repair.
Everyone likes to think that every mechanic has the same skill set and universal knowledge which is just not the case.
As classic car mechanics we are used to finding poor workmanship from previous owners and are ready to adapt to whatever is presented to us to provide our customers with the highest quality work we can provide within their budget.