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Inside the Small But Mighty Shop

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Driving down West Boylston Street, it might be easy to miss Premier Auto Repair.

While the shop is set on a popular thoroughfare filled with name brand chains and local businesses, the two-bay Worcester, Mass., repair shop’s compact storefront is surrounded on both sides—nestled between the outposts of a local used car dealership.

“We hear it all the time,” says owner John Cayer. “Customers come in every week who never even realized we were here.”

Just the day before, a regular at the Dunkin’ Donuts only 200 feet away dropped in for the first time, stunned at his discovery after driving by what must have been hundreds of times. “With less than 1,000 square feet, it can seem like we’re hidden in plain sight.”

While many may think small shops are a dying breed with limited potential and a grim future, Cayer hasn’t let the shop’s size hold him back. With a team of four bringing in nearly $800,000 in annual revenue on just two bays,  he’s one of many notable independent operations proving a unique strength in numbers—churning out impressive results despite small shop footprints or staff sizes.

To learn what it takes to stand out and succeed as a small operation, Ratchet+Wrench spoke with Cayer and the owners of other small but mighty shops to see how they’re harnessing their space, manpower, and resources to build lean and nimble operations for maximum output.

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