Repair Revolution is on a mission to disrupt the auto repair industry, which is stained with a bad reputation for deception and lack of integrity. “We’ve created the most transparent repair experience possible” says owner Eli Alison, who sends customers photos and videos from the initial inspection of everything addressed in a quote. As a celebrated display of unity, the shop’s logo is centered around a raised fist holding a wrench. And when inside there is no separation between the customers and mechanics, with a reception area located within the shop, so customers are close to the action and can see in.
The mechanics also spend a lot of time talking to customers to teach and build transparency. They work hard to make the environment, for customers and staff alike, inclusive. Customers are empowered to ask questions and make decisions, and if they are interested they’re invited to attend one of Repair Revolution’s monthly workshops teaching car maintenance. Where many repair shops keep you in the dark about the mechanisms making your car run, or they’re patronizing in their explanations, Repair Revolution exists without judgement to help you learn.
Eli is proud to spend extra time and care educating his customers, while simultaneously creating opportunities for the queer community which is often under-represented or even unwelcome in the automotive industry. “I pay my techs higher than industry standard and [offer] benefits. We also exist to have a safe space for staff,” states Eli whose business has a turnover rate much lower than the industry standard. “All of my staff is mission driven and are amazing leaders.” He shares that in the auto repair industry, largely dominated by straight white males, there’s not only discrimination but often harassment and overall unhappiness for technicians who don’t fit the norm. Repair Revolution strives to disrupt this culture by replacing it with one that is respectful and built on trust. “You can make an impact no matter what you’re doing; we’re more than just an auto repair shop.”
With no marketing budget to speak of, Eli relies on word of mouth about his great service to grow his customer base. “I think it’s something that marginalized communities do well – support marginalized businesses.” The bulk of Repair Revolution’s customers are LGBTQ, but “we welcome everyone,” Eli shares emphatically.
Repair Revolution won $10,000 in Business Impact NW’s 2017 IMPACT Pitch competition as best established business. “When I started my business, it was just me for three months. Then I added one technician and kept adding employees from there.” They entered the contest after being in business for 5 years, and the prize money helped Eli buy a “pretty awesome piece of diagnostic equipment,” which has improved efficiency and accuracy in diagnostics. The competition also helped in unexpected ways. “Anytime you have to talk about your business in someone else’s format or think about your business’s impact, it forces you to do some planning,” says Eli who is getting closer to his goal of expanding. “We also got some attention. People learned about us [and] we made a lot of connections.”
Coming up on seven years of business, Repair Revolution is impacting real positive change. Eli is honored when a customer emails saying that their experience at Repair Revolution is the best they’ve had at an auto repair shop or that they’ve learned something new about their vehicle. And his staff, blossoming in their growth and confidence, works as a team. Most of all, he’s proud of how he gauges success, which is not by the industry standard of how many jobs are completed per day, but rather the accuracy and transparency implemented when serving people in the community. As they say on their website, “we stand behind our repairs 100% and will always go the extra mile for our customers.” And you can believe that they mean it.
Read more about Repair Revolution on King5: Repair Revolution is changing more than just the oil, Kiro Radio: Seattle Auto Repair Revolution run by/for queers, women and on Broadly: The Queer-Friendly Auto Shop Taking Sexism for a Ride.