We Rate 11 Modern Auto Repair Shop Designs & Waiting Rooms

We examine the look and feel of 11 modern auto repair shop designs, offering tips for improving appearances and functionality.

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Conceptual Minds | August 3, 2023

We Rate 11 Modern Auto Repair Shop Designs & Waiting Rooms

Two things make it much harder to capture the average consumer as an auto repair customer—when compared to other forms of retail.

  1. Repair services are a necessity, but don’t excite like food, entertainment, or shopping
  2. Though maintenance is an inflexible need, it’s not a frequent need
It’s tougher to generate interest, and the opportunities for doing so are few and far in between. One big solution: Create a modern auto shop waiting room that’s different enough to remember, comfortable enough to enjoy, and striking enough to recall easily.
Sound difficult?
Thankfully, it’s much easier to defy customers’s expectations when they have such a clear image in their head. 
In this post, we’ll examine the look and feel of 11 different auto repair retail spaces and waiting rooms, providing guidance for improving the look and functionality of modern auto repair shop designs.

A Few Notes Before We Delve Into Auto Repair Shop Design Layout Examples 

We’re going to be displaying a lot of photos of real-life auto repair shop design examples; some are in notably better shape than others. We want to make it clear that we don’t intend to judge or slam, as auto shops have notoriously slim margins, making expenses like layout and retail design difficult to afford.
While we’re big on pushing shops to develop distinguishable, clear, and engaging brands, the mark of a great shop is undeniably the work done in the garage. We don’t intend for any criticism of decor to represent any business’ worth.
A few other points to keep in mind:
  • Images vary greatly in date
  • Due to the age of the images, we can’t assume they look the same today 
  • It’s always easier to judge with the gift of foresight. Many of these decor themes may have served each shop well in the time and place they exist. 

#1.) Kid-Friendly Auto Shop Layout With Living Room Comforts

Rating: A
No notes on this one. 
Casey’s Automotive has designed a supremely clean, comfortable, and cozy modern auto shop waiting room. In addition to the mid-century decor and cozy leather chairs, the shop is equipped with a fully-stocked beverage bar, with K cups, water, soft drinks, and an inviting rack of coffee mugs. 
Best yet, there’s a well-stocked play area for kids. Warm and inviting.

#2 Small Auto Shop Design: A Waiting Room Inspired by the Sports Car Look

Elite Finish Auto Spa’s waiting room is a good example of a sleek and inviting mechanic shop that retains an auto-specific theme. 
Lots of sleek, clean lines, matte colors, bright red accents—and while we’re not usually thrilled with using tires as decor, the wheel rack to the left of the two loveseats fit the space’s clean sleekness. 
Clearly, this shop is vying for a higher income clientele, making the sports car theme fitting.

#3.) Modern Auto Shop Designs: An Older Family Doctor’s Office-Style Waiting Room

Photo by Gregory Wolf
Rating: C-
This room leaves a little something to be desired. 
Standard-issue waiting room blue polyester chairs, set against two different shades of blue. It doesn’t impress or stick out. 
This illustrates an issue we often see in auto repair shop design and layout, often sparse automotive decor substituting for a more coherent theme. Consumers may be OK with it and certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see automotive decor in an auto shop, but we’d like to see that expanded.
Salons and restaurants, for instance, don’t often center their store’s visual theme around tools of the trade. Instead, the decor is used to create a desired and distinctive atmosphere. The same should apply to auto repair.

#4.) Small Auto Shop Design: Homey, Professional & Simple

Photo by RDNE Stock project
A great example of a simple and cozy auto shop waiting room. Home-y hardwood floors, plenty of natural light, and premium seating. 
There’s room for improvement—more modern amenities would be nice—but it’s a cozier and more inviting space than most. 
We like the lack of heavy machinery decor, which doesn’t always align with consumers’ preferences. There’s a Doctor’s office-style cleanliness and professional simplicity that inspires confidence and comfort. 
Not bad at all.

#5.) Modern Auto Repair Shop Design: Black on Black With a Racing and Heavy-Machinery Theme

 Rating: C
We only see one section of the waiting room, so we can’t speak to what’s missing. 
In the positive realm, we have plush black chairs with an executive theme, black linoleum floors, well lit, with a cozy fireplace, and a racing automotive theme.
That said, there are clashing elements. The engine block table and race car decor are undoubtedly creative, but this aesthetic isn’t one many picture when they imagine comfort. 
We’d love to give the decor a facelift and to use less a gear-oriented theme, but it’s more comfortable than most basic automotive shop layouts, and notably distinct. 

#6.) Creative and Striking Mechanic Shop Layout Without Frills

USAG- Humphreys
 Rating: C+
The simple design highlights the cleanliness of this modern auto shop waiting room . 
While distinctive and memorable, the theme feels a little half-baked.
We’d love to see a bigger TV, especially for those sitting all the way opposite from it, but we still have a distinct and memorable auto shop waiting room. 
If there’s ample seating elsewhere, that might be fine, but as is we’d like to see furniture placed more openly, as customers might feel cozier if they weren’t forced to face strangers in their eyesight. 
We’d highly recommend expanding the coffee-pot carrying cart into a full coffee/beverage station. Depending on the comfortability of the couches, they may or may not be the best choice for a modern auto repair shop.

#7.) Salon Aesthetics Meets Modern Lighting And Cozy, Eclectic Artwork

Rating: B
This one does a lot of things right.
At first blush, this small auto shop’s design has the bright exuberance of a stylish salon, with a range of inviting seating options like black leather sofas, high-top stools, and what appears to be modular-styled orange chairs. 
The lighting is brilliant as well. Combined with the bright paint scheme, it highlights the place’s cleanliness. 
That said, the use of color and the volume of artwork may overwhelm some. 

#8.) High End & Earthy Coffee Shop Style; Ample and Accommodating

 Rating A+
This entry from Graham Auto Repair is another great example of an repair shop that sets a totally different tone.
We see a comfortable living room style theme, tasteful, cozy, and earthy. Ample phone charging stations, free wifi, and an adorable and functional kids’ play corner. Not a auto shop waiting room to spend some time in.

#9.) This Mechanic Shop Layout is Spacious, But a Bit Minimalist

Rating: B-
This modern auto repair shop waiting room lands in the middle between comfort and aesthetics. 
It’s a spotless space with some quality seating, decent decor, and OK amenities. 
We like the privacy of the waiting room separated from the retail floor, but some customers will feel far more comfortable in a more open space monitored by staff. 
Beyond that, we’d like to see more decor. As is, it feels a little like a sparse work break room (Although more pleasant and accommodating than one might expect). 

#10.) Small Auto Shop Design:  An Overpacked Space With Overwhelming Colors and Mismatched Furniture

Rating: C-
We’ll admit it; this one could use some work.
It’s worth noting the owner/operator here is dealing with limited space. We see seating for seven, with a variety of unmatched chairs spaced too close for comfort. 
Two opposing couches would be a better choice here, with either a larger coffee table or an additional table (one for each couch). The floor poster has to go, as well as the bright paint scheme, which resembles an elementary school.  
A larger wall-mounted TV should replace the one balanced on the small bookcase. Add some more greenery, better lighting, and remove the floor poster. 

#11.) Rustic, Hip Interiors Where You Can Get a Pedicure While You Wait

Rating: A++
This is the kind of brand that’s impossible to ignore. 
Girls Auto Clinic, based in the Philadelphia area, has distinguished itself thanks to a handful of bold choices. The all-female staff, manicure bar, and decontextualized auto shop interiors make this style of masculine-appearing visuals accessible to women. 
Why not get a pedicure while you wait? Why not sign up to learn a few auto repair skills in an environment where you won’t be looked down on?
The proof of the brand’s success is clear when you look at the glowing Yelp reviews, countless accolades, and volumes of press attention. We’re talking Time Magazine interviews, Daily Mail articles, a TEDx talk, a Today Show appearance, and a Fox network sitcom based on the all-female shop (Elizabeth Banks is reportedly involved). 

Bonus: How We Designed Wiygul Automotive Clinic's Waiting Room

We’re too biased to rate Wiygul Automotive Clinic’s waiting room impartially—because we designed it (case study). 

The before shot reveals a common auto shop paint theme; the yellow and blue Goodyear Tires colors. Compared with the more muted grey, the bright yellow appears abrasively bright and clashes with the matte blue shade. 
We wanted the new design to visually convey Wiygul Automotive Clinic’s value proposition, as well as a handful of key messages.  
We replaced the original paint scheme with something more subtle and modern; a professional and toned grey with orange accents to match Wiygul Automotive Clinic’s revised logo (Which we also designed). We also knocked back the front counter to allow for more waiting room space, which gives the retail floor a more welcoming feel. 
We fully carpeted the floor and upgraded the seating, which marries the coziness of a plush living room with a refined coffee shop experience where customers can work remotely in peace and comfort. 
 Not too bad, if we do say ourselves.

Don't Want to Be "Just Another" Local Mechanic? 

Changing your shop’s image might feel like a tall order. In truth, changes in perception take time and repeated exposure to take effect. However, once your efforts bear fruit, you’ll begin to see what it means to be in a category above and beyond your transactional competitors.

Learn About Conceptual Minds

As veterans of the automotive industry, the Conceptual Minds team are experts at growing car counts through effective and personable marketing. If you are unsure of your current marketing strategy and would like some guidance, contact us today at 877.524.7696.

Need help implementing winning auto repair promotions?

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