It’s happened to all of us – we step out of the door in the morning, dressed and ready for a great day, we go to start our car’s engine and … nothing – someone left the lights on last night and now the car’s battery is dead. After a brief moment of panicked rage, we collect ourselves and cast about for a solution. Luckily, there are people like Joel Herron, owner of Roadside Samaritan, who are always on call to help. We sat down with Joel to find out more about common roadside pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Q: What’s the most common roadside call you receive, and how much does it normally cost?
A: We see a lot of jump starts and door unlocks, especially this time of year. The cold weather can take a toll on batteries, and with people warming up their cars before work or school in the morning, it can be easy to accidentally lock your keys in your car.
Our rates are $35 for any of our services in Columbia. There are some other fees that apply such as mileage fees for jobs outside of Columbia, and fuel cost on fuel deliveries. We are also experimenting with full locksmithing, and the costs of those services vary quite a bit depending on the customer’s needs.
Q: What’s the one thing (besides your phone number!) that you wish drivers would carry in their vehicle?
A: Ha! Well our phone number is a good answer. It’s a good idea to keep a phone charger in your car at all times. The last thing you want when you get a flat tire is a dead phone and we do not accept service requests via carrier pigeon.
Occasionally there are some specialty tools like locking lug nut keys that certain vehicles need, other than that, we are fully equipped for all your roadside service needs.
I’d also like to make the point that carrying less in a car can actually make an emergency situation easier to handle. I understand that for some people, the car is a home away from home, however, in an emergency situation, the last thing you want to do is to dig through loads of laundry and empty water bottles to get to your spare tire. An organized car is a happy car.
Q: How far away from Columbia does Roadside Samaritan service calls?
A: We operate a 60 miles radius on Columbia. We frequently make trips to Marshall, Moberly, New Florence and even south of Jefferson City and everywhere in between. *Mileage fees may apply.
Q: This tire pressure light that’s been on since its gotten cold – if I continue to ignore it, does it put me at higher risk of a flat?
A: It does! It could actually put you at risk of having a tire blow out. Driving on tires with low pressure pancakes the tire out. This puts added pressure on the sidewall of a tire. Once the sidewall is weakened, it becomes susceptible to blowouts. On the flip side, over inflating a tire can put added pressure on the tread area, thus speeding up the wear and once again increasing the likelihood of a blowout.
A properly inflated tire will increase the lifespan of a tire and save the car owner a lot of money in the long run.
Q: What inspired you to get into the Roadside Assistance business?
A: I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I went to college at Columbia College for business, then tried a few endeavours in some more artistic fields like video production, music, and advertising. I learned a lot from those ventures, but nothing really took off. My brother and step dad have operated Davidson’s Towing in Pittsburg, KS since 2008. One day my brother called me up and explained how I could set up a roadside assistance business. I quit the job I had at the time, went back home and trained with my brother. After training, I came back and got to work. That was in 2016.
Q: Congrats on your awards from American Towman Magazine & Expositions! How do you keep customer satisfaction so high?
A: Thank you! This is our 2nd year in a row winning this award. I didn’t even realize there was an award for this kind of thing. The first time that I received the notification that we’d won, I thought it was a scam.
Our customers and the community are everything to us. We’ve been on the other side of the transaction where you’re running late for work or school and your car won’t start or you get a flat. No one plans for these inconveniences so when they occur, it only adds to the inconvenience to have to wait an hour or two for help. We really focus on getting to the job and completing the service safely and as quickly as possible.
It can also be a little nerve-racking to order a roadside service. Sometimes it’s dark, you’re by yourself, you may be unfamiliar with the area. That’s why part of our uniform is a friendly smile.
Because we only offer light roadside, circumstances do arise where a customer’s needs might be outside of our wheelhouse. In those instances, we seek ways that we can still accommodate the customer whether that be giving them a ride to their destination or recommending one of the local tow shops or mechanics.
I also would like to give a shout out to our team. Currently on staff, we have James McNamer who is the owner of The Tuning Spot. Bill McDonald has 10 years of locksmithing experience and is now our Key Specialist. Jordan Freed is also employed at Cummins and is going to school to become a certified Diesel Tech. He brings extensive mechanical knowledge to the table, and both my brother, Kyle Herron and my dad, Kenny Davidson of Davidson’s Towing are available by phone for any questions that may arise. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to clone these guys so I can put a Samaritan in neighboring cities.
Q: Do you submit bills directly to any insurance companies? We can submit paid receipts for reimbursement if our clients have Roadside coverage on their policies.
A: A lot of our work comes directly from insurance companies, so if someone were to order roadside assistance through their insurance in Mid-Mo, there is a good chance that we will be the ones on the scene. We also do work directly with customers. When a customer calls us directly, we bill them on scene and then they can take the receipt, turn it in to their insurance and get reimbursed if they are covered.
Q: Can I assume you’re a fan of Car Talk? If you had a radio show, what would it be called, and what would you talk about?
A: I love Car Talk! I listen to that show and a lot of other podcasts as I’m driving to and from jobs.
Funny you should ask about us having a radio show. We are working with The Tuning Spot to create a podcast full of car information. We don’t have any ideas for a name yet but my hopes are that we can create a show similar to Car Talk, but focus more on the people of Mid-Missouri.
We want to make sure you’re covered and moving in your car. Call Kasmann Insurance at (573) 442-1105 to discuss your Auto and Roadside Assistance coverages. We can advise if your policy will help pay for Roadside Assistance and we can answer any of your coverage questions. If you’re ever stuck and in need of help you can always call Joel and the Roadside Samaritan Team at 573-356-9656. Also, check out their services on their website and their funny videos on Facebook.