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Old 10-28-2014, 02:27 PM   #1
BRENT in 10-uh-C
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Default OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

As some of you know, I am in the planning process of a new restoration shop facility that would allow us to expand and even become more efficient. I have spoken with two different Architects, and chatted with our 'barner buddy Mr. Henry Chauvin about some of this.

One of my questions that has surfaced in these discussions is what aesthetic design (architecture) does this building truly need to have.

So this is a question I am posing to you ..."pretending" you were looking at a restoration shop to hire. Does the aesthetics of the interior (--or the architectural exterior) of the building influence/affect your decision to choose that shop's services?

So that I am clear, ...many TV shows and website pictures depict some absolutely gorgeous décor inside shops. Many have massive old signs, working neon, era-depicting murals or pictures lining the walls, gas pumps, dealership memorabilia and etc. all to help their occupants feel a mood when they are visiting. Now don't get me wrong, I think some are absolutely stunning however i my mind, these items come with a price tag. Some of these collections of memorabilia are worth major $$, and someone had to pay for it. Kinda like the inside of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. We all know that the décor in that restaurant does not truly make the food taste any better, --but does it help the customer believe it does?

So is this an area I need to be considering adding to the architecture of a new shop, --or is it necessary?
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:34 PM   #2
Mike V. Florida
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

Quote:
Originally Posted by BRENT in 10-uh-C View Post
As some of you know, I am in the planning process of a new restoration shop facility that would allow us to expand and even become more efficient. I have spoken with two different Architects, and chatted with our 'barner buddy Mr. Henry Chauvin about some of this.

One of my questions that has surfaced in these discussions is what aesthetic design (architecture) does this building truly need to have.

So this is a question I am posing to you ..."pretending" you were looking at a restoration shop to hire. Does the aesthetics of the interior (--or the architectural exterior) of the building influence/affect your decision to choose that shop's services?

So that I am clear, ...many TV shows and website pictures depict some absolutely gorgeous décor inside shops. Many have massive old signs, working neon, era-depicting murals or pictures lining the walls, gas pumps, dealership memorabilia and etc. all to help their occupants feel a mood when they are visiting. Now don't get me wrong, I think some are absolutely stunning however i my mind, these items come with a price tag. Some of these collections of memorabilia are worth major $$, and someone had to pay for it. Kinda like the inside of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. We all know that the décor in that restaurant does not truly make the food taste any better, --but does it help the customer believe it does?

So is this an area I need to be considering adding to the architecture of a new shop, --or is it necessary?
Absolutely!!!

The customer waiting area should reflect a bygone era. An era that denotes things done once and done right. Vaulted ceilings exposed beams, warm and inviting. I like to see details in a waiting area. To me if you are paying attention attention to the details of the waiting area it most likely will reflect details in the finished product.

I like this place,

https://www.facebook.com/TheCreativeWorkshop
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

For me, all those signs and stuff are to set the atmosphere correctly for the art that will be performed within.

It has nothing to do with attracting customers.

That being said I do think it helps. I'd rather visit and do business with someone passionate.
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

On the outside, make it look like a 30's Ford dealership, complete with the red brick facing. (kinda like the Museum).
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

Coming from a person that worked in a dirt floored shop growing up keeping farming operations going I don't find it neccessary. However I would be impressed as it makes you appear to be successful enough to be able to afford the extra expense. "Perseption is Reality" in the modern world. Most people are not likely impressed with my small shop, but like the work I am able to accomplish within the walls is locally respected. Rod
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

That might be nice for some but I think the work and referrals speak much louder than any fancy building, sign, or atmosphere. Watching Chasing Classic Cars I've seen them do some unbelievable restorations and work on million dollar cars. Wayne's facility is a rather old white building by many accounts and I have seen his mechanics use common old craftsman tools and boxes (and some Snap-On) but its not like they have a beautiful and surgically clean facility lined with $20,000 tool boxes either. Some may argue their tools and appearance speak to their meticulous nature which carries some weight but isn't always true. In a similar comparison there are mechanics out there with over $100K invested in tools who can't fix a sandwich and others that can fix darn near anything with a multimeter, screw driver and crescent wrench.

Design a building that will benefit YOUR productivity and needs with functionality a top concern and your taste second. Your customer referrals and the work you do should satisfy the rest. If you want to invest extra dollars for aesthetics that's fine but I wouldn't worry about it. Just my opinion.
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

OK, thanks for your thoughts. A question is 'would you as a customer be willing to pay for that'?

Why I ask is, a themed interior and exterior will likely add 10% to the total price of construction. In other words, that comes in at $80k - $100k of additional expense. So if I am to add that amount into my overhead, that probably equates to $1,000 to $2,000 extra cost per car we restore just to cover those architectural & decor costs. If that is the case, is the extra costs in restoring your car still worth the ambience?
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

Brent, I think your reputation as a quality shop is the most important thing any automotive shop should have. Then the looks of your facilities is important but I would think a reasonably clean, organized shop would be sufficient to impress people so that they come to your shop. Then I think the next most important thing to have is your people that can communicate with your customers. They need to communicate with the customers so that they feel like that person knows what they are talking about and can explain to the customer so the customer can understand what they said (not a "teckie").

But like you said all of these extra "frill's" cost money and someone needs to pay for them. If you plan on staying in business, you would need to pass the cost of these things on to the customers. So therefore a reasonable amount of these things would seem like a proper approach. For example a good clean "coffee" shop and waiting area with something for people to do while waiting-Model A magazines, maybe new things they could look over and put on their Model A's (and you could sell them), maybe a few pictures of cars you have worked on, etc.

Then the building could be a utilitarian type of building for the purpose of your business. Maybe plain outside, with a good sign for your business and a neat little area they could check in for their repair, questions or whatever. And when they do check in, service them immediately-don't let them wait while you or your people have to "finish" something on the computer prior to waiting on them.

In other words, good products, good services and good people make or break a business.
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

Brent here is my 2 cents worth. I have seen shops where they have all sorts of signs, pictures, neon etc. hanging on the walls. They are really great looking don't get me wrong. I have been to places where they are dark, dusty and parts laying all around-the complete opposite. I am there for the work being done to my __________.

In answer to your last question, I left my last dentist because she charged high prices so she could have the latest and greatest gismo in her office. And it felt like I was paying for that gismo. If you made the architecture like an old dealership where the design spoke for itself with a few pictures on the wall. that might be the solution. You get a nicely designed era type building, with some original looking pics and people will get the idea that you care about a particular era and car. And it should not break the bank.

But people are going to be there for a specific reason anyhow. They want you to restore their Model A or any other project you are working on for them. The rest is all window dressing.

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Old 10-28-2014, 03:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

Brent,
I can think of only two areas in your planned facility that could benefit from having the "look". Those being your customer entry and an adjoining meeting room where you might sit down to discuss your potential customer's project. The rest just needs to be clean and organized.

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Old 10-28-2014, 03:40 PM   #11
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

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Brent,
I can think of only two areas in your planned facility that could benefit from having the "look". Those being your customer entry and an adjoining meeting room where you might sit down to discuss your potential customer's project. The rest just needs to be clean and organized.

Dave
I agree completely with Dave. The ambiance of a building does not produce anything. Cool collectables are nice but contribute nothing to the work performed. If I was inclined to spend more on a facility it would be directed toward either more shop equipment or increased space.
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

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On the outside, make it look like a 30's Ford dealership, complete with the red brick facing. (kinda like the Museum).
Quote:
Originally Posted by montanafordman View Post
Design a building that will benefit YOUR productivity and needs with functionality a top concern and your taste second. Your customer referrals and the work you do should satisfy the rest. If you want to invest extra dollars for aesthetics that's fine but I wouldn't worry about it. Just my opinion.

The current plan is to build two 60' x 100' long buildings (14' eaves) with a 50' spacing between the two. The intent is to make a façade that can easily be converted into either small industrial rental spaces (50'w x 60'd) or small retail outlets for rental upon my retirement. The reason for the 50' space between is to allow us to later enclose that area should the need arise.

One thing I have been doing over the past year is making a 1/20th scale wooden models of the shop tools/machines I have. While the detail is probably a little over the top on what is needed for these, this has/is allowing me to have an exact footprint of what each machine is in relation to the area we think we will need. We are also adding the Hubley Model-A model kits (which are also 1/20th scale) to this diorama model, and the present plan is to build two overhead-view model shops in a 1/20th scale (36"w x 60"l) out of MDF to replicate the room and placement of each item to be in the shop.

What has been difficult for me in this project is trying to pre-plan where the optimum location of each area needs to be for the most efficiency. Also, it is the little things like not placing the Wood Shop next to the Upholstery Shop, --or not locating the Welding area next to the Spray Booth too!

Adding to that, storage is something we cannot seem to have enough of it seems, and making it easily accessible yet not have the expense of climate controlling it has its' own set of challenges. Mezzanines over top of work stations are nice for having additional space yet are also restrictive in other ways.


One area we feel we would like to incorporate is a guest room that adjoins the Offices and employee breakroom. We are thinking that a room furnished with a pair of Twin beds (that can make a King bed) and a couch. This room would adjoin the executive bathroom on one end (that has a shower and washer/dryer) and adjoins the employee breakroom that has a refrigerator & stove/microwave. This room would have exterior accessibility and be able to be secured from the shop area at night. During the day, a customer's spouse can retreat to that area to watch TV or relax while the customer is attending to his project. We have quite a few clients that come to the shop for several days at a time and this would be a convenience that some would enjoy (probably more than just aesthetic ambience!)

Another area I am struggling with including is a showroom. The positives is this would be a great climate-controlled area to showcase a project upon completion. The downside to this is this is a lot of wasted area that might be better utilized as a work area. Adding to this, we generally try to finish a project and then get it delivered to a customer as soon as possible. This means that there would be times the showroom would be empty unless we had a dedicated vehicle to display in the showroom. If that happens, in my view this would be a low ROI for that space.

I dunno, exciting yet kinda stressful at the same time when I think of the expense involved. No chance for errors so I gotta get it right the first time!! Thanks for each of your insight & thoughts.

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Old 10-28-2014, 03:59 PM   #13
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

I would not overdo the glamour aspect. A display of your spare restored Model A parts would be nice and not expensive.
Also some 3-ring notebooks with before and after photos would convince the potential customer that you can perform miracles. A few in-between photos would show that you do strip down the car to pieces that are individually restored.

One book only of restored cars might help the customer decide on the color as well as decide that you are the one to do the work. Nice paint jobs can be mouth-watering.
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:01 PM   #14
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

If done right the facade could be simple retro '30's-'40's and the waiting room and office might be decorated thoughtfully and all this you must look at as advertising expense. It could be some simple decor such as a few road signs, and license plates. And of course you have a trove of used parts. Camshafts, crankshafts, valves, pistons, gears, & Etc. could be put towards artistic wall decor or exhibits. This would be my suggestion to get the most bang for the customers buck. After all you will need to do some advertising anyway and write it off somewhat.

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Old 10-28-2014, 04:04 PM   #15
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

Comfortable chairs while discussing details go a long ways in my opinion. Bar stools and office chairs from the office next to yours just don't cut it when discussing money and details at this level. Rod
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:09 PM   #16
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

My son has been in the automotive service business for the last 12 years, always working for someone else. Several months ago he struck out on his own. In setting up his own shop, he is effectively enforcing the core values as expressed by Vince: (Post #13)
Quote:
For the shop I would want to see clean, well lit, orderly, not cluttered, and the appropriate quality tools and equipment laid out for success.
Did I mention clean, well lit, and orderly?

Also of course is the friendliness and capability that your staff projects. No rudeness, foul language, horseplay, dirty clothing/appearance etc. At least a uniform shirt or consistent dress code matters to many people, including me.
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:12 PM   #17
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

Functionality for your own use and suitability for you retiremant plans for the place should be paramount, and I don't think there should be any museum quality to the work areas except of course for neat old tooling that is still in use.
As pointed out by all, your reputation and products are the main deal.
That being said...I would go for a bit of a facade stuck to the customer entrance area, either the look of the front wall of a neat old gas station or the brickwork of so many old Ford dealerships...the latter, if carefully done, might add future value, as it would be nice for a retail area...shops could look like Ye Olde Deluxe Shoppe, rather than just another strip mall.
Customer area really should have some display...maybe a few show-and-tell parts or cutaways showing the sort of work that makes an axle housing or a gastank usable, so it would help sell good services. It could also display expensive goodies that could be folded into a restoration like rare original or NOS parts and accessories. Developing that could make the displays pay for themselves.
I'd probably punt, though, and devote the rest of my life to the 1/20th diorama...
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:24 PM   #18
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

My opinion... do it up as big as you can afford... and then just a little bigger.

Unfortunately, people develop expectations from other multi-billion-dollar businesses they frequent. Walmart... HomeDepot... and every mall in America. Big corporations and Hollywood have set the bar pretty high. Plain-Jane, modest, and homemade doesn't work anymore unless you have a serious customer base and a rep just as big. Plain-Jane sets you back in the minds of consumers... especially the iPhone gen that expect the bling. Old guys... sure, they don't need extravagance... they just want results. But the next gen demands it because their expectations are set by six hours of TV and internet every day.
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:29 PM   #19
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

the most important thing is a clean shop, office, waiting room and a clean bathroom for the customers. i assume the employees will have a separate bathroom // wash area to cleanup in. the gingerbread is not needed just display things you already have collected with no extra expense..

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Old 10-28-2014, 04:43 PM   #20
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Default Re: OT: Is a 'themed' shop necessary to a (potential) customer??

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My son has been in the automotive service business for the last 12 years, always working for someone else. Several months ago he struck out on his own. In setting up his own shop, he is effectively enforcing the core values as expressed by Vince: (Post #13)
I see a difference between servicing modern cars (I am assuming your son is servicing modern cars), and the restoration of antiques.
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