A local small engine repair shop in my area that I have gone to in the past charges $48 an hour! I haven't done any searching for a cheaper shop, but I know this guy does a great job, so I'm willing to pay the price.
In our area, the big shops charge upwards of $65/hour for normal repairs.
They all have seasonal specials for basic tune-ups.
The real kicker is many charge $30-$40 diagnostic fee that you lose if you decide not to have them do the repair.
I've had several customers that had "bad" diagnosis and lost the fee.
With the large population here, it does make sense to have some type of charge, but it also leads to many false or exaggerated diagnosis to cover the dealers back side.
example: Stihl string trimmer was diagnosed with a bad coil...fee paid dealer
I discovered it was simple an air leak at the carb...took about 10 minutes to fix....I was rewarded with Budweiser...
I never charge to diagnose a machine and have only been burnt twice by customers who lied about their problems. In both cases, the customers told me they had prepared the machines correctly prior to operation. In both cases the machines arrived completely empty of oil.
One is a NEW DR brush mower with a Kawasaki 17HP engine....both connecting rods broke! "I check the oil every time." was what I was told. When I did my normal check list I found it had no compression, no oil, and looking into the spark plug hole, neither piston moved while cranking the engine. I was able to push both pistons with a plastic pen. It is still in the shop after 5 months waiting for the customer to tell me what he wants to do. I gave him a quote for the engine repair and an engine replacement.
The repair would only be covered for 90 days and the replacement comes with 2 year factory coverage. They are roughly the same cost, not knowing the full extent of the damage, but he refuses to reply with a decision. I spent well over an hour to diagnose, research parts costs, and prepare an estimate. So now I have this machine taking up space and I don't get paid for my time. My rent doesn't wait though.
I am willing to accept these situations because they are very rare. Although the majority of the dealers here would charge the customer and give him 5 days to pick it up or be subject to a storage fee in addition to the diagnosis fees.
BTW my rate is $45/hour plus parts including free diagnosis and repair estimate.
In addition, I offer free pick-up and delivery within 25 miles.
My shop is 8000 sq ft. We have 2 trailers: 20 ft flat bed/14,000 lbs and a 6 x 13 ft enclosed with drop ramp. In addition, we use 3 different trucks depending. Chevy Suburban diesel, Dodge full size pick-up, and Chevy full size van.
We work on everything from contractor equipment, residential, boats, snowmobiles, PWC, ATV, motorcycles, air compressors, generators, snowplows......etc.
Currently I have 3 contractors that I do all their maintenance and repair work; a commercial landscaper, a fence company, and custom home builder.
"If I don't fix it, you don't pay"
Rent and shop supplies are expensive here. I do all the labor and have 2 partners with over 40 years each of mechanical an electrical experience.
My background is mechanical engineering and machining.
I just bought a CNC mill for fabrication work and we have complete welding service.
In order to offer a wide variety of repair service, it costs a lot of money.
The purpose of my posting is simply to give you some idea of what it takes to survive in this business. The big dealers have far more costs. They are required to stock parts, machines, as well as becoming certified by the manufacturers. All of which detracts from their profits. Add labor, benefits, advertising and taxes and you can see where the money goes.
When you buy a new machine from a dealer, he makes very little money. When you have him service your machines he has a chance to stay in business. When he is able to do warranted repairs, the factory pays standard book rate.