James Snider knew he’d chosen the right location for his new auto repair shop when residents came up to him during the Greater Farmington Area Founders Festival and thanked him for investing in their community.
“That really got me excited,” the 1995 Harrison High graduate said. “If people have that much affection for their city…that just put me over the top.”
Farmington Garage opened Monday, after weeks of deep cleaning, renovations, and installing some high tech equipment in the former Ariel Automotive, 33014 Grand River. Snider said that he and business partner Andy Massoll are bringing the “full service” concept into a hometown auto repair shop setting.
“That was a thing a lot of people valued and appreciated,” Snider said, recalling the full-service gas stations of days gone by. “We know we need to be that service station for them.”
One investment, a Revolution tire machine, allows anyone in the shop to change a tire in just minutes. It helps break the industry-wide barriers that have “really segregated technicians.” While the business spent more on the touchless machine, Snider considers it a worthwhile investment not only in faster customer service, but in uniting the Farmington Garage team.
“We all just play the same song, fix the customer’s car,” he said.
Farmington Garage also brings people together at the front end, Snider added, with a well-appointed customer lounge. Snider plans to bring in samples from downtown Farmington businesses, like The Cheese Lady and Sunflour Bakehaus, and perhaps offer local gift certificates when customers come in for an oil change. Farmington area businesses can also sign up for a corporate program that offers a pick-up and drop-off service, so that employees don’t have to leave work to get their vehicles repaired.
“I want people to think about the downtown lifestyle as one collective kind of thing, where you can go grocery shopping or clothes shopping and get your car serviced,” Snider said. “I want people to think, ‘convenient’.”
Snider has also connected with other local repair shops and says he’s more than willing to make a referral, because “when you’re in competition, somebody loses, and it’s usually the customer. If a customer is not a match for us, then I have a place to send them.”