Shop Owner Loves ‘Show and Tell’
Pam Oakes educates customers through books, radio shows
Pam Oakes is shown at a book signing at a Barnes & Noble store. She does quite a few book signings a year. She also appears at “Meet the author” events at local libraries. “I enjoy interacting with those who come out to ask car care questions,” says Pam. Her books are available on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.carcarefortheclueless.com or www.pamsmotorcity.net.
One of the most impressive shop owners we’ve come across lately is Pamela, “Pam Oakes,” owner of Pam’s Motor City in Fort Myers, Fla.
Pam was nice enough to tell us how she would handle the situation in this month’s “What Would You Do?” feature (see page 20).
AutoInc. featured her shop in 2006 (you can access it easily by going to www.AutoInc.org, then click on “Back Issues.” It’s a good story that talks mostly about how Pam started her shop and how it has grown.
Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for “the rest of the story.” Pam is a busy gal with more irons in the fire than a cowboy at branding time.
Pam is a fourth-generation automotive technician. Her great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all automotive technicians. Her great-grandfather taught her how to set a choke on a 1969 Plymouth – the same car she takes to antique shows today.
Throughout high school and college, she worked as a journalist. She also drove her great-grandfather’s 1969 Plymouth. “When something broke, I had to fix it,” says Pam. Working on that Plymouth convinced her to go into auto repair.
She has been an ASE-certified technician since 1995, holds a degree in electronic engineering technology (EETAS) and has repaired tens of thousands of vehicles.
Pam’s first shop in Fort Myers, Fla., had 4,200 square feet of floor space. A new, 8,900-square-foot shop (shown adjacent) was built in 2002. Pam’s Motor City has been voted the best auto repair shop in a poll taken by the Fort Myers News-Press in 1996 and every year since 1999.
Pam started Pam’s Motor City in 1995. Her shop’s name stems from her growing up in Detroit. At first, she was the sole employee – technician, service writer, bookkeeper and “bottle washer.” Today, she has a 12-bay shop with nine employees.
She and her shop have won numerous local, regional and national awards and are heavily involved in the community. AutoInc.’s shop profile in 2006 listed many of the awards. Since then, the shop has been voted “best auto repair” every year (including 2012) in a poll taken by the Fort Myers News-Press. Child and Parent Magazine, a regional publication, listed it as “best auto repair” in 2010 and 2011.
Sixty-hour weeks are the norm for her. And running the shop is just part of what she does.
Her writing skills stemming from her days as a journalist have enabled her to author two books: “Car Care for the Clueless (Or How to Make Money While Maintaining Your Vehicle,” published in 2011. And “Car Care for the Clueless: Successful Used Car Buying 101,” which was released in January. A third car-care book by Pam will be out this fall.
In addition to writing the books, Pam is busy with radio shows. “Since 2011, says Pam, “I have been on webtalk radio and WGRN (a student-operated radio station in Greenville College in Greenville, Ill.) with a half-hour consumer automotive show, ‘Car Care for the Clueless.’
“Someone from CBS Radio heard my broadcast and asked me to come on board. Since January, I have been broadcasting LIVE@5p in Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Seattle every Friday drive time.
“I love it! I’ve gotten a plethora of emails and, during the show, I get instant messages and phone calls. I am having a blast helping people learn how to be a savvy car consumer.
“We reach approximately 1.5 million listeners each week.
Pam, who still turns wrenches every day in her shop, prepares to flash (update) a vehicle being repaired.
“Another project I have going is ‘PAM: Pam’s Automotive Minute.’ This 60-second spot is on various stations and syndicated shows, nationwide. The spot reaches about 3.9 million listeners.
“Like I said, I’m having a wonderful time talking about cars, car care and how consumers can protect their wallets.
“Other than that, I’m at the shop every day, turning wrenches, doing paperwork (yuck!) and helping customers understand their vehicle issues. I just love to do ‘show and tell’ with customers.”
We bet her customers (not to mention her readers and listeners) are glad she does.
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