I have had my car serviced at three separate high-end "European" service and repair facilities, and all three of the places are leased by the owner. They do not own the land or the building.
I suppose in the long run it would be better to buy the land and the building, but I can see how it could be prohibitively expensive starting out.
I suggest that you take a look at the shop that the owners of this website own called MB Autowerks. I visited this shop when I was on a buiness trip to Atlanta, and I think it is one of the nicest, thoughtfully-laid-out independent shops I have ever visited. There is a link to the shop on the homepage.
The shop floor itself is huge, the walls are painted white, it is bright and airy. There is a glass partition separating the customer waiting area from the shop so that customers can look in and see the work being performed.
There are refreshments available, e.g. water, coffee, etc. There is a waiting area with sofa's, chairs, a coffee table, end tables, etc., and a TV.
They also have cubicles so that a business person can get some work done, make phone calls, hook up the lap top, etc.
Regarding pay, I have noticed that the independent shops that I've visited pay their employees either by the hour or a flat salary per month.
Last, the mechanic that I frequented that fixed my Japanese / American cars injured his back on the job and decided to sell his business because he could no longer do the work. He ended up moving to Las Vegas and opening a used car lot.
I believe he sold his business for around $150,000. Of course, the buyer took over the lease of the building and the name of the building. I suppose the buyer also inherited the hoists and other "fixed equipment" in the shop, e.g. lights, air compressors (anchored into the ground with hoses snaked overhead), etc. I'm sure the new buyer had to provide some tools of his own.
I also believe the mechanics that are hired are responsible for their own tools.
2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".