Pam's Motor City Automotive: Up for the ChallengePosted 10/11/2006
By Lisa McReynolds
A fourth-generation technician, Pam Oakes started Pam's Motor City Automotive in 1995 after leaving the daily newspaper industry in 1993. Oakes learned a great deal from her great-grandfather, Leonard Smith, who owned an independent shop in Detroit; and her father, Jerry Oakes, who specialized in steering gear and suspension.
"My first car also helped me with the transition from journalist to automotive technician," Oakes said. Throughout high school and college, working as a journalist and then starting her automotive career, Oakes drove her great-grandfather's 1969 Plymouth. "When something broke, I had to fix it," said Oakes.
Pam's Motor City Automotive started with one employee: Pam Oakes. She repaired vehicles, set up appointments, ordered parts and scheduled advertising. While growing up in an automotive-savvy family and using her time to educate herself, no task was too big for Oakes. The challenges of difficult and uncommon automotive repairs came, and she faced them head-on. As word got out, the shop increased activity, and Pam's Motor City Automotive began to grow.
The shop started out with 4,200 square feet. A new, 8,900-square-foot shop was built in 2002. When Pam's Motor City Automotive started, it repaired about 30 cars per week. Today, the firm works on approximately 225 cars per week. This growth, of course, caused expansion of the shop from seven bays to 12 bays within the past four years. Today, Oakes faces the automotive challenges with 15 technicians and employees by her side.
"Believe it or not, all of us in the shop enjoy the challenges. It keeps it interesting," Oakes said.
As the automotive industry changes and new models are manufactured, Oakes and her employees use every chance they get to stay updated on current automotive trends. They continuously attend classes locally to update their skills. They also subscribe to various online courses and trade magazines for news, updates and service bulletins. In short, Pam's Motor City Automotive strives to bring its customers quality service. With seasoned technicians who have 322 years of combined experience in the industry, this shop continues down the road of success.
One thing that makes Pam's Motor City Automotive unique is the way it educates its customers when they come in for repairs.
"We try to educate our customers with a 5-minute lesson," Oakes said.
"Temporarily walk in your customer's shoes before addressing them about their car repairs. Remember, an educated customer is a happy customer. It is important to teach your customer to be car care savvy," Oakes said.
Along with the 5-minute lesson, Pam's Motor City Automotive offers its customers informative brochures, fliers and guides. To prepare customers for this year's hurricane season, the shop has a "2006 Hurricane Car Care Tips" brochure. From how much air you should have in your tires to planning an evacuation route, this brochure helps keep consumers safe and on the road if a disaster should strike.
Pam's Motor City Automotive is not the only place you'll see quality service. The local community is another place where you will see the service and dedication of Oakes and her team. Donations have been made to the local chapter of the Red Cross, local middle and high school sports and band groups, and the Fort Myers Miracle's Kids Day Out. When Oakes isn't repairing automobiles and reading technical journals, she's actively involved in many organizations. She's a former member of the board of directors and a founder of the Community Bank of Cape Coral in Florida, a Women's Board Car Care Council female scholarship sponsor, a member of South Fort Myers Rotary and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Pam's Motor City Automotive is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the Automotive Service Association.
Members of the staff at Pam's Motor City Automotive are educated and experienced. They reach out to their customers and community. When the industry grows and changes, they're right there growing and changing with the industry.
So, what motivates Pam's Motor City Automotive? "The constant challenge of change in the automotive industry. Whether it's a manufacturer's new model or customer coming in with a 'sick' vehicle, it's never boring," Oakes said.
Shop StatsName: Pam's Motor City Automotive
Address:13395 Metro Pkwy, Fort Myers, Fla. 33912
Size of Shop:8,900 square feet
No. of employees: 15
No. of years in business: 11
Weekly Activity: About 225 cars per week
On why they joined ASA: ASA is the 'eyes and ears' for the shop owners/technicians," said Pam Oakes. "It is hard enough keeping track of the new technology while running a shop. ASA keeps us up-to-date regarding pending/passed legislation, insurance offers and upcoming technology - to name a few. It's like having a silent partner/technician in your shop.
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