Shop View: Auto ER

Aug. 1, 2017

Michael Katz created a shop branded with the promise of serving its customers’ ailing vehicles.

SHOP: Auto ER   LOCATION: Gainesville, Fla.   OWNER: Michael Katz  SIZE: 12,000 square feet  AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 350  ANNUAL REVENUE: $2.5 million

1. Building a Brand

The look of the shop was inspired after owner Michael Katz toured a former Volvo dealership in Gainesville, Fla., which he hoped would be the home of his first auto repair shop. 

As he stood outside the building, he noticed it looked like a hospital emergency room and he drew inspiration from that. Katz chose to create his first shop on Archer Road because there wasn’t another shop on that side of town, so he knew he could develop his roots and build a good reputation. 

This idea of a repair shop providing services to its customers almost as a doctor would to a patient led Katz to brand his first shop as Auto ER. Katz even had the idea to have charts instead of more traditional repair order slips.

Katz went through various name iterations before coming up with Auto ER because he wanted something that would set his business apart. He knew this wouldn’t be just a one-shop operation (he now has three locations), so he wanted a name and logo that he could brand. 

2. Optimum Efficiency  

Efficiency was Katz’s priority as he started planning the layout. He wanted to ensure his staff had all the space possible to be productive and move freely from the lobby to the shop floor. And, he had to work within the confines of the existing structure. Since this was his first auto repair shop, he sought out the help of a consultant to effectively maximize the space allotted. 

The 12,000-square-foot space houses six bays, allowing each master technician to have his own area to work. 

3. The Extra Mile(s)

Upon opening the shop, Katz used his wife’s white Honda Odyssey minivan as the shop’s shuttle service. Falling in line with the Auto ER brand, Katz made sure the van also looked the part of an ambulance. He branded it with the shop’s logo and hired a porter to drive the van around. He also does some of the shuttle driving, too. 

“We’ll drive a customer almost anywhere,” Katz says. “I once drove customers about 350 miles round trip from Gainesville to Fort Lauderdale; we don’t say no.” 

4. High-End Concept, Comfortable Feel

Katz got the idea for Auto ER’s waiting room from the layout of a BMW dealership he visited and of which he admired the look.

As he sat in that waiting room, he started noticing things like no tires lining the walls. He knew he wanted to emulate this experience at his own shop. 

Katz hand-picked every detail of his Archer Road location’s waiting room, from the seats down to the amenities inside that keep customers engaged and entertained, like current magazines on display.

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