*See images of 4x4 Liberated's showroom and some of the shop's work in the gallery below
Imagine you’re sitting in a shop, waiting for your Jeep to come out and you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself. I should have brought my laptop, you’re thinking, but instead you watch minutes pass aimlessly. Should I talk to this guy? Well, maybe not. Should I check my social media? Oh, that’s right, there’s no wifi…
These are some thoughts that were running through Curt Carroll’s mind years ago when he was having his vehicle worked on at a 4x4 shop. Surely, there had to be a way for Jeep-enthusiasts like himself to get more out of this ritual.
Now, three months into business at Forsyth, Georgia-based Liberated 4x4, Carroll is getting an opportunity to reinvent what it means, what it looks like and what it feels like for customers to visit an off-road service shop.
For starters, the shop’s ownership includes four partners: John Hamon, Travis Daniel and Curt and Jill Carroll. Most of them were administrators for their local Jeep club, Foco Jeepers. After listening to each others’ experiences within the off-roading community, they began to develop a business model that would deconstruct the normal business world and allow everyone to have an equal role.
According to sales manager, Robbie Warren, “We didn’t want this, ‘I’m in charge and I’m going to tell you what to do,’ type of thing. Rather, everyone would have a voice and it made it more of a democracy.”
In doing so, their ideas and diverse expertise have blended to form an innovative take on the old-school shop environment.
“It’s not just a ‘come get your stuff and get out,’ kind of place,” Warren explained. “With a lot of Jeep clubs, they’re very involved and very community-oriented. We’re trying to build on that, that way, we’re not just another shop, everyone knows us personally and you don’t come in talking to a salesperson—you’re talking with a friend, getting advice on what to do with your vehicle.
“When you walk into our shop, we want it to feel like you’re walking into a Starbucks. It’s designed to have that small, coffee-shop feel, where you’re welcome to stay and talk to us. It’s not like you feel like you have to just go up and talk to the person and then sit in silence the whole time you’re waiting,” he added. “People really seem to enjoy coming to our shop.”
Actually, it’s more of a store than a service center.
“When you walk into our [showroom],” Warren said, “it’s like you’re in a clothing store.”
Liberated 4x4 owners prior to opening their shop observed a considerable lack of showroom material and options for Jeepers to show their support for local shops. Their answer: “We keep the usual wheels, tires, lift kits on display, so people can still see what they’re buying. But, on top of that we have a large variety of apperal and merchandise including stickers, decals, jewelry, and items that are more outdoor-geared.”
To understand what Liberated 4x4 is attempted to achieve, think Yeti or Under Armour—brands that represent an entire lifestyle. Taking the knowledge of off-roading culture these owners developed as enthusiasts themselves, Liberated has its own meaning behind it.
“Instead of customizing vehicles,” Warren explained, “we’re liberating them from being stock, from being an everyday, boring vehicle and making them unique.”