Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 32

FIXED OPS JOURNAL

Pat Howk of Elco Cadillac
in suburban St. Louis has
spent nearly 30 years
responding to customers'
pleas for roadside aid; a
co-worker says: "He's just
huge for us."
DEAR HART PHOTOGRAPHY

SAVING THE DAY

 Veteran service specialist hits the road 24/7 to help customers in need

S

JOHN IRWIN

jirwin@crain.com

T. LOUIS - Pat Howk, the roadside
assistant at Elco Cadillac in Ballwin,
Mo., has seen it all during nearly
three decades on the job.
Across the St. Louis area, Howk, 60, has replaced countless flat tires, filled countless
empty fuel tanks and unlocked countless
numbers of vehicles with keys locked inside.
He's gotten calls from customers who needed roadside fixes at 4 a.m. or on a holiday. He
says he's always ready to help, even on his
days off or during horrible weather.
"He's extremely good at what he does," says
Jeremy Lovegreen, a service adviser at the
dealership who works closely with Howk.
"He's just huge for us."
Each vehicle buyer at Elco gets a card with
Howk's contact information. Lovegreen says
Howk's rescues win the dealership plenty of
new customers, because competing stores
generally don't provide roadside aid.

People person
Howk has worked in vehicle repair his entire
adult life. He says he still gets a thrill from his job.
"I like a challenge, and I like meeting people," Howk told Fixed Ops Journal. "I like helping people to get them out of their problems."
Sometimes that requires putting himself in
potential danger. He cites a call he got for

PAGE 32

DECEMBER 2017

Ready to help
About Pat Howk

 Age: 60
 Title: Roadside assistant
 Dealership: Elco Cadillac
 Location: Ballwin, Mo.
 Quote: "I like a challenge, and I like

meeting people. I like helping people
to get them out of their problems."

roadside service in Ferguson, Mo., in the summer of 2014, during violent protests there after
the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a
police officer.
Ferguson was on high alert, heavily patrolled by law enforcement agencies. A police
officer stopped Howk and asked why he was
driving through the city.
"I told him I was just doing my job, just like
him, and he let me on my way," Howk says.
Howk's desire to help others brings him personal satisfaction, but also pays off for his
dealership. His 24/7 service has helped boost
Elco Cadillac's reputation among its customers.
Cadillac spokesman Andrew Lipman says
Elco's most recent service satisfaction survey
score was 92.05 out of 100, placing it in the top
quarter of the brand's U.S. dealerships.

Howk's customer satisfaction score was an
above-average 94.17 points. Several years ago,
he says, GM sent him a letter of commendation for his care of customers.
"To see a smile on their face is great," Howk says.
"And I hope they remember Cadillac and Elco
Cadillac with their next car purchase or service."
Larry Hourcle, a former dealership master
technician and an instructor at the National
Automobile Dealers Association Academy,
says dealership roadside assistance programs
are increasingly rare, although some luxury
brands such as Cadillac require them.
"It's a missed resource that we don't use
anymore," Hourcle says. "We had tons of business and we got away from it."
He says roadside aid can help dealerships
gain and keep customers. Retired techs can
make such calls, he adds.
"There's a huge market as aging mechanics
come back into the job market," Hourcle says.

'You'd be good at this'
Howk has had a passion for cars since he
was a child. His father was a mechanic and
trained Howk to follow in the craft.
In 1976, Howk got his first job as a mechanic
at a Cadillac dealership. He got his start in
roadside service in 1988 at Plaza Cadillac in St.
Louis, which closed in 2007.
see HELP, Page 33



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017

Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017
Contents
Editor’s Letter
Service Counter
Legal Lane
Big verdict
Ho-ho-ho
Battery charge
Price is right
Tomorrow’s techs
Selling accessories
SEMA dreams
To the rescue
Profit Builder
Richard Truett
On the line
Letters
Real time
Feedback
After hours
Efficiency expert
Longer lasting
Shop Talk
Five Minutes With
Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Intro
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Cover2
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Editor’s Letter
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 5
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Service Counter
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 7
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Legal Lane
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Big verdict
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 10
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 11
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Ho-ho-ho
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 13
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Battery charge
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 15
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 16
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 17
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 18
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 19
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 20
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 21
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Price is right
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 23
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Tomorrow’s techs
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 25
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 26
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 27
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Selling accessories
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 29
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - SEMA dreams
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 31
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - To the rescue
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 33
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Profit Builder
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Richard Truett
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - On the line
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Letters
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Real time
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - 39
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Feedback
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - After hours
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Efficiency expert
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Longer lasting
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Shop Talk
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Five Minutes With
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Cover3
Fixed Ops Journal - December 2017 - Cover4
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