The Discovery Channel has a series called Garage Rehab that features Richard Rawlings as the guy who finds and rehabilitates service garages that are in real trouble. He also has a show called Fast n’ Loud that featured his own Gas Monkeys shop.
Richard learned what it takes to turn a so-so car business into a success and this spin-off went around the country looking into mechanics businesses that had lost their way or perhaps never found it in the first place. Then helped them to rehabilitate their shop so they could become their own successful business.
Since we were going to Nashville to see the Lane Motor Museum it was an opportunity to take a look at one of the shops that had received Garage Rehab’s special touch. We knew from the episode featuring Fast Lane Auto Service, that it was run by a talented mechanic that lacked many of the basic business tools that a service business requires. The Garage Rehab crew consisting of Richard, Russell Holmes, and Chris Stephens, analyzed the condition of Fast Lane, its location, building, facilities, and business, and found it in desperate need of help.
After cleaning up the building, helping the owner obtain an education in business book keeping, providing new equipment, and designing a customer friendly reception area – the transformation was complete. The show invested at least $125,000 in the rehabilitation of Fast Lane and we were curious as to how well it was doing post-rehab.
From my own experience with business I knew that many small business owners not only don’t have the business skills necessary to run a business, but they often bring with them some bad habits that work against them. From watching Garage Rehab I could see that these things were addressed but I wondered if bad habits would reappear and that these shops might end up back where the show found them in the first place.
What we found upon our arrival was a business in as good a condition as when the show concluded its episode on Fast Lane. We entered the customer reception and waiting area and were greeted by John. He has a very outgoing personality as well as an obvious knowledge of automotive service, especially in hotrods and muscle cars.
We talked to him about the process of becoming part of the series and he told us that he thinks he was nominated by a customer. He was very genuine and allowed us to take some photos of his shop floor area.
While they do general automotive service it was clear that John’s heart is in classic muscle cars and hot rods.
They were in the process of rebuilding the front end of the Mustang.
Outside the shop building is the area that received the most radical change in the Garage Rehab process. Originally a poorly organized covered metal building, it is now an outside covered parking area that protects and shows off the long term project cars that the shop works on.
John explained what a transformation the rehabilitation of his shop and business has had as a result of the show. His business is operating in the black and his life and family is where he always dreamed it could be. John is a very happy guy.
It was a treat to get to see one of the Garage Rehab locations in person and especially nice to see that it has resulted in a success to the degree that Fast Lane now enjoys.