Instead of a commercial, Pam Oakes is inviting current and potential customers — and the rest of the aftermarket — into her shop in a behind the scenes new reality series.
Like this article? Sign up for our enews blasts here.
Oakes, who owns Pam’s Motor City in Fort Myers, Fla., and her employees are starring in “Car E.R.,” a new series showcasing the shop and how employees handle customers, complaints, repair and each other.
Oakes learned about the independent repair shop business from her father and grandfather, and has run her own shop in Fort Myers since 1995. She recently spoke with Motor Age about the show and other issues facing the independent repair industry.
MA: Tell me about the show, its premise and what you hope to accomplish by producing it.
P.O.: Basically it’s behind the scenes of what goes on in an auto repair shop. It just happens that I’m a woman-owner auto repair shop, so the dynamics may be a little bit different. Basically it’s just showing that we’re just like everybody else out there. No matter what the industry, we’re all human and we have achievements and we have conflicts and we all work them out. It’s pretty interesting. For the novice, the consumer that comes in to get their car repaired, it kind of takes the unknown, scary aspect out of it and shows that yeah, we’re human, too.
MA: How did the idea for the show come about?
P.O.: It’s funny, because a lot of people have told me throughout the last few years, “Boy, this would be a great show.” Thye see how we interact with the customers and everything. We just took it one step further and we did it.
MA: What do you hope to showcase about the shop and industry in the show?
P.O.: We’re human just like everybody else. People don’t need to be afraid to come to an auto repair shops. You know, more people want to go to the dentist before coming to get their car fixed. Hopefully we’re going to take down that veil of uncertainty, that mystery of how your car works and you can see it’s not that bad. We’re easy to talk to and we’ll get your car fixed and you on your way. They may become a little bit more of a savvy car care consumer because of it.
MA: What were your employees reactions when you approached them with the idea?
P.O.: They were all in favor. They thought it was great. When the camera crew came in, they weren’t intrusive, and everybody I think really enjoyed it.
MA: What is one message you hope to convey to viewers and other customers of the show and shop?
P.O.: We’re like every other mom and pop business — we’re out there to help our customers and that car repair isn’t as scary as you think. You can understand it, any novice can understand it with the right explanation. And the right team behind the shop can do anything.
MA: Overall, how is business in Florida? Has it improved in recent years with people keeping their vehicles longer?
Have articles like this sent to you weekly by signing up for our enews blasts here.