Shop Name: Fix It Forward Auto Care - Moorhead
Owner(s): Matt and Kristi Carlson
Location (city, state): Moorhead MN
Staff Size: 9
Shop Size: 7,200 square feet
Number of Bays: 9
Average Monthly Car Count: 390
Annual Revenue: $2.3 million
As General Motors repositions itself as a software company that builds cars, Matt Carlson somewhat embodies that mantra. Carlson entered the auto repair industry after 15 years at Microsoft as a software developer.
A confessed car enthusiast, Carlson spent a lot of time wrenching on and restoring cars before trying his hand in the business, first starting a nonprofit auto repair shop.
"I spend a lot of time working on cars on the side—restoring cars, performance, stuff like that—as a hobbyist, (and) realize there's a lot of need in the community for people who can't afford car repairs,” Carlson says.
Today, the nonprofit still exists, still repairs cars, and still solves transportation scarcity problems for those in need, but Carlson has since added a pair of general auto repair shops into the fold that goes by the name Fix It Forward.
Building a Trustworthy Brand
"We're trying to invoke a place that people can trust. We are a faith-based organization. That's where our nonprofit really lies. It's the reason why we do everything,” Carlson says. “But we work with anybody, help anybody. We never ask anybody about their faith background. We don't care; we're helping anybody we can.”
Creating a Model Shop from Front to Back
“We really focus on convenience and comfort for our customers. So, we've got a waiting room with some nice chairs and free snacks and coffee for the customer,” Carlson says. “We don't encourage waiters; we have free loaner cars … and we do free Uber rides. So, if anybody wants a ride home, we will give it, but if they are going to stay, we want to make sure they're comfortable.”
The repair shop—true to its corporate commitment to helping all—caters to vehicles of all sizes, both light and heavy-duty. In the front of the shop is the tire and lube area with four bays which is partitioned from the rest of the shop, which is comprised of a series of lifts in the back of the shop.
“We have a bunch of 10k-two post hoists. We like to have one 12-k in each of our locations. If we have a one-ton truck, we can pick that up safely. We put an alignment rack in all of our locations,” Carlson says. “So all of our locations (have) 9, 10 or 11 lifts. They're all roughly the same size.”