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Everett Street Autoworks

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Courtesy Everett Street Autoworks

Everett Street Autoworks was founded in 2001. The larger of its two buildings, built just after World War II, is deeply rooted in the automotive industry, having been used in the past for German diesel repair, parking and vehicle detailing. Everett Street Autoworks is one of the larger independent shops in the Portland, Ore., area, and one of the few remaining shops in the downtown area. Because of its location, Everett Street Autoworks has devised numerous innovative solutions to take advantage of its urban location. In 2007, Jake Hammer, who was the general manager at that time, bought the business and now runs the shop as owner and operator. “We’ve been going and growing ever since,” Hammer says.

1    Space is scarce in Portland’s Old Town district, the home of Everett Street Autoworks. “It’s very expensive to rent lots, let alone park cars,” Hammer says. “So we focus on same-day repair service.” A lot of customers work near Everett Street Autoworks rather than live near it. Hammer says the business depends on people who work in big buildings near it. Around 80 percent of the shop’s work qualifies as “light” work, Hammer says, with a majority of those jobs being oil changes, brake jobs, fluid flushes, a few timing belts and other preventative, scheduled maintenance.

2    “We have a small waiting room—a little bit too small given our car count,” Hammer says. The shop got around this problem by setting up an agreement with PINTS Brewing, a local coffee shop down the street. Everett Street has an open tab and customers can get a free drink along with their auto service. In the afternoon, PINTS Brewing even serves craft beer for customers to indulge in. Around 10 customers each day take advantage of the free drink, Hammer says. It helps keep the front lobby free of waiting customers and it’s a more pleasant place to wait.

3   Portland residents have strong loyalty to local businesses. And as a part of its distinct local image, Everett Street Autoworks has a commitment to hanging a lot of art around the shop. Canvases, posters and signs with a variety of automotive themes fill the walls.

4   “Efficiency is key because we don’t have a parking lot and we don’t have a lot of space,” Hammer says. Between the shop’s two buildings, there are 27 lifts, which helps them get the vehicles in and out on the same day.

5    Everett Street Autoworks has a light rail line run past the shop. The nearest station is a block away, which makes it easy for customers to drop off their cars for service and hop on the light rail to anywhere in the core downtown area. It helps Everett Street Autoworks operate off a “convenience, trust, price” priority model. We get them in the first time based on convenience, we get them in the next time based on trust,” Hammer says. Then, because of the shop’s convenient location and good reputation, customers come regardless of cost, even if Everett’s prices are competitive.

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