A Staple in the Community
On Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Ratchet+Wrench team toured a local auto repair shop, Turbo Tim's in Minneapolis, Minn.
The First Impression
After grazing an entryway lined with full boxes of La Croix sparkling water, there will more than likely be one of a few shop cats waiting to greet you at the front desk. These cats walk around the shop (or lounge) as they please, ready to keep the customers company while waiting on a repair. Along with a furry friend or two, you’ll find eclectic local artwork lining the walls, large tanks of fish, and bright-yet-welcoming paint covering just about every single surface of the walls. It is instantly clear that Turbo Tim’s Anything Automotive is not your average repair shop, and owner Tim Suggs will be the first person to admit it. Suggs likes to think of his shop as a part of the local Twin Cities community.
Not only are they a distinctive shop within the area of Minneapolis, but they are also involved heavily in local events; from hosting a dance party, to participating in an annual art fair called Art-A-Whirl to simply renting out their shop for events on weekends when they are closed for repairs. When it comes down to it, the Turbo Tim’s approach is really about cultivating a community space, both in the surrounding city as well as behind his shop doors.
While there, Suggs excitedly showed off the employee break room, which includes a small balcony overlooking a room in the basement with a large flat screen television, video games, and couches. Having amenities like this for his employees is important to Suggs because the staff at Turbo Tim’s look at their work as a huge part of their life, and he wants to have part of the shop be dedicated to simply kicking back after a long day. It is elements like this that set this shop apart (well, that and the bird whose cage sits on the far end of the shop floor. But at a repair shop with cats, having a feathery friend only makes sense, right?) Turbo Tim’s has repeat customers not just because their bumper stickers offer 10 percent off service for life, but also because they create a space that people want to be in.
They break away from the mold of perhaps what a repair shop “should be like” and instead have developed something that is about more than getting your car fixed. It is about the element of trust in a working customer-repair shop relationship. Finding ways to connect with your customers as Turbo Tim’s gives people another reason to come back. Don’t be afraid to look into ways of interacting with the community outside of your shop. Maybe you won’t bring cats or art into your shop like Turbo Tim’s does, but there are plenty of opportunities for collaboration if you think outside of the box. Reach out to neighbors, families and friends. Ask what you can do for the community, and you may find yourself creating something that is just as distinctive as a cat named Bobbie.