Women in Business


What's New?


Hate the Thought of Dealing with an Auto Repair Center?

By Jody DeVere

Love or hate your auto repair center? I came across a great article in the Automotive Management Institute Instructor Blog and thought I would share some this and get your thoughts on what level of customer service you are looking for at an auto repair center? Share your good, bad and mediocre experiences at automotive service facilities and suggestions to make your experiences better by commenting below.

It’s common to hear or read about the growing influence of women in today’s society. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that three in 10 households were maintained by women in 1996. According to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, women-owned enterprises are growing faster than the economy in general. The National Automobile Dealers Association’s latest quarterly survey shows evidence that women are a growing part of the dealership sales force. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence reports that women are not only becoming more influential in deciding what car to buy, they are also taking over the traditionally male-dominated responsibility of maintenance and repair. With this increased buying power of women comes an increasing need for automotive service employees to understand women’s likes and dislikes, as well as their buying habits.

Big and influential
Logoase ASE reports that more than 65 percent of customers who take their vehicle to a repair shop for service and repair are women. AutoInc.’s annual How’s Your Business survey of Automotive Service Association (ASA) members recorded slightly lower figures, with the gender distribution of customers balanced at 50 percent female and 50 percent male. This increasing presence and buying power of women in the automotive industry is the result of a rise in the overall percentage of female drivers, while the overall percentage of male drivers is decreasing; and research that shows nearly half of new car purchases are made by women, and 53 percent of used-car sales can be attributed to women. In addition, Ford Motor Marketing reports that women influence 80 percent of all purchases and have 95 percent veto power regarding automotive purchases.

Customer service/politeness count
Nine out of 10 women responding to a recent Car Care Council survey said they believe repair shop operators and technicians treat them differently because they are women, and the difference is seldom positive. According to the survey, women want to be informed customers, understand the repair in layman’s terms and receive quality repairs and customer service … not really any different than the expectations that men have for automotive repairs. “Repair businesses that respond to women’s needs and expectations by providing clean waiting rooms, timely delivery, and repair orders that are easy to understand are making smart business decisions,” said Lyn St. James, famed Indy car driver.

A Bozell Worldwide and U.S. News & World Report 1996 study showed that politeness is extremely important in a woman’s buying process. Nearly 60 percent of women say they have left a store, stopped buying products or hung up a telephone at least once in the past year due to poor customer service. Of that total, 49 percent have done so one to five times; 7 percent, six to 10 times; and 3 percent, 11 or more times.

The same study identified an overall lack of civility in U.S. residents’ day-to-day lives, with 78 percent of both men and women agreeing that rudeness has become more rampant in the past decade. Ninety-one percent see this downward shift as a very serious problem. This data suggests that common courtesies and the basic rules of etiquette extended by shop personnel will go a long way toward satisfying customers, especially women.

According to About Women and Marketing magazine, service with a smile and a “can do” attitude make women customers feel welcome. Women like to know that someone is available to answer their questions with “yes,” “no” or “I’ll find out” responses instead of “I don’t know” or “I don’t think so” responses. When women complain, they tend to be forgiving if they see progress toward resolution. If the complaint turns out to be a lengthly process, offer them frequent updates and invite them to use your complimentary services (i.e. coffee, shuttle, etc.).

Women with small children in tow will appreciate a play area for their children while they wait; older women customers will enjoy comfortable benches or chairs on which to rest. When their vehicles are ready, women customers like an efficient, expedient process at the front counter (unless they have questions about the repair; if this is the case, be ready to provide a lot of details).

“There is a growing appreciation of female customers. Technicians report that females ask more questions, inquire about details, and are more willing to look under the hood, or check out parts,” said Diane Hohman, an automotive consultant in Herndon, Va.

After the repair, make sure women are part of any customer follow-up program. The Council for Marketing and Opinion Research reports that most women (64 percent) find answering surveys an interesting experience. Nearly the same amount like to see how their responses compare with those of others. Overall, women answer surveys because they see it as a way to provide feedback to companies.

Ultimately, all customers want value, whether they’re using the services of an automotive repair facility or shopping for clothes. Value is difficult to assess, however, fair prices, respectful service, convenience, quality repairs and a pleasant atmosphere are good starters for creating value in any customer’s mind.

Share your good, bad and mediocre experiences at automotive service facilities and suggestions to make your experiences better by commenting below.

Jody DeVere
President
www.askpatty.com
www.carblabber.com

Author site: Jody DeVere | View all articles by Jody DeVere

Topics: Automotive Advice, Lifestyle |

17 Responses to “Hate the Thought of Dealing with an Auto Repair Center?”

  1. Renee Says:
    January 29th, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I understand the need for women to be more involved in our auto repairs. I am a ASE certified Service Consulant and a woman in the automotive field, I grew up with my parents owning a gas station in the 80’s. I learned alot about checking under the hood back when there was full service gas stations. I treat my customers as if they are my friends, I have been with Dealerships for 10 years and now am working with my brother at his automotive shop in merritt island, florida. I believe between the two of us, we give customers a friendly, clean environment with quality repairs. There are shops out there with a womans needs in mind, we are still new but word of mouth gets around fast and our quality of work brings the customer back.

  2. DM Says:
    January 29th, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Empathy also plays an important role in perceiving the needs of women customers. Many women bring their children with them to the auto shop.

    As a service advisor I would want to make sure the kids have coloring books or a suitable cartoon to watch on tv. This helps to keep the service visit as easy as possible.

  3. Denise Nasuta Says:
    January 30th, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Do you have a recent report on what shoppers are looking for in an auto repair center??? I am doing research on What what make an auto center appealing to women and men and why they would go out of their way to go to a “certain” center. Thanks.

  4. Jody DeVere Says:
    February 14th, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Look here:

    http://www.asashop.org/autoinc/dec2007/business.htm

    Jody DeVere
    President
    http://www.askpatty.com
    http://www.carblabber.com

  5. Tara DeBruin Says:
    June 7th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Research, studies, and stats - there is an abundance of information available indicating what women are looking for from the automotive service industry. It appears to be a slow response rate from the industry to appeal and properly service the female market. A small (but growing) number of aftermarket service companies are now ‘thinking outside the box’ to improve service delivery to women. Hopefully, this will come hand-in-hand to support women working in the industry, as well.

    Tara DeBruin
    President
    http://www.ladieschoiceautocare.com

  6. GoodCreditRocks Says:
    September 5th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    If there were more hours in the day, maybe I could think more about my auto repair, but as it is now, it’s just easier for me to get my husband to deal with the car.

  7. Auto Repair Help Says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 9:43 am

    If you want to avoid the bad guys the only way is to read up on their reviews. Check out Auto Repair reviews at http://www.mechanixloop.com it will help you see more reviews from more sites in one place and give you a better chance to find a honest auto repair center.

  8. Jessica Gilbank Says:
    June 28th, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Hello Everyone,

    I have recently opened and all female repair shop in Toronto, Ontario. By all female, I mean I only have female technicians working in the shop. We service anyone and everyone’s vehicles. We are the first of our kind in North America. We would be more than happy to offer any advice we can to you with regards to finding a trustworthy mechanic, including some ‘tricks’ you can try to test them out before you commit to taking your car to them. Thank you - I love your site.

  9. Jody DeVere Says:
    July 4th, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Jessica,

    Please contact me directly to learn how to become part of the automotive expert panel of women on AskPatty.com.

    Best Regards,

    Jody DeVere
    President & CEO
    AskPatty.com, Inc.
    http://www.askpatty.com
    eMail: jdevere@askpatty.com

  10. E R Bagwell Says:
    July 21st, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Coming from a farm family with 7 sisters — I got first hand… how my sisters were talked down to regarding farm machinery and vehicles. I always had to laugh when the average Joe mechanic found out my sisters knew what they were looking at … under the hood. But if you are not an expert with cars — no matter… keep my little auto tip book in your glove box.

  11. Danielle Says:
    January 18th, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I live directly across from an autoshop in Denver,Co and I see how bad/poorly they treat customers cars when the customer has left, spinning the tires on the ice, smoking before they get into customers cars, driving them carelessly and fast. Be very aware of who you choose to work on your car, just because they appear nice and friendly at the front desk, that’s not the person working on your car… Females and/or Males should always keep that in mind. Don’t go the small shops, AAA isn’t a valid choice either of reference, I would use a chain or a auto shop that specializes in your brand of car, ALWAYS. Small business tend to hire who they can, not who is fit for the job.

  12. Kimberly L. Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    As an employee of an independent auto repair shop in Minnesota and a former employee of a franchise at our local Midas, the idea that because a shop is small they must do shoddy work is simply false and is usually the opposite. Small independent shops survive purely on reputation because they don’t have the nation wide advertising to back them up. Small shops are usually startups or specialty shops with a smaller customer base which is the same reason they are more concerned about the satisfaction of every customer. Bigger shops have generally been around longer or have corporate money backing them up and can afford to lose a few customers. Small independents can not. P.S. I have had service work on my car while driving through Denver and I can see why you think that way. Don’t let some small shop in a bad part of town in Denver determine your view on all the little guys. Please use some common sense.

  13. Rose Says:
    August 23rd, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I just want to say that a woman ‘on the other side of the counter’ SHOULD make women feel more comfortable. By reading the various articles that pop up after typing in ‘why women fear mechanics’ or ‘why women fear uto repair shops’, I’m finding that most everyone mentions having a woman working as a service writer, manager, etc, will make women stop being scared. As a female who RUNS an auto repair shop, I promise you THIS IS NOT TRUE. I don’t know if its the city I live in, I don’t know if its my appearance (I model to supplement my income) but women are more often than not, the customers whom trust me THE LEAST! I wish women would realize the very same discrimination they fear they will encounter at an auto repair shop, they are directing AT ME. they want to talk ‘to a man’ and assume I don’t know whats going on. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? women as a gender need to get over themselves and STOP HATING ON OTHER WOMEN! and yes, be wary of repairs shops but if a female is running the show, I think its a safe bet you are at a quality shop.

  14. laura d Says:
    May 13th, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Hi Rose,
    I know this post is a little old, but there are some valid comments. I just got back from the repair shop with an empty wallet. One of the things that tends to make me nervous is the cost of the repairs. It is easy to feel “ripped off” after looking at the numbers. Sometimes a short explanation of industry standard labor hours being calculated in determining each task help and so forth. I have started to read about the basics of cars in my spare time. Even knowing a few words of the terminology can take some of the feelings of helplessness away. It’s like any other profession–medicine, insurance, etc–understanding what a part means goes a long way.

  15. laura d Says:
    May 13th, 2012 at 11:15 am

    p.s. Rose, please don’t assume all women think alike. I truly appreciate a woman explaing the repairs (if available). I am one of those people who tip well at restaurants, etc. however, some women cater to the men who sit there day after day trying to get free refills and never tip.

  16. Deep Think Says:
    March 16th, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Are Men Becoming Unemployable?
    Submitted by Deep Think on March 2, 2013 - 1:06pm.
    There is a gathering storm whose ingredients if not checked could lead to men becoming unemployable.I was taken aback when on the web I found advertisements for female only companies. I know that the women’s movement have organized to break down male only organizations charging such organizations with discrimination and sexism. Therefor I was shocked to learn some women are advocating the creation of female only companies! Why after fighting against male only organizations do so many women feel it is ok to form female only companies and what is driving this trend to get more women into the trades like auto repair,plumbing companies, electrical contracting,and taxi cab drivers to name a few?

    My investigation has uncovered that this trend has its roots in the gender gap in education. How so? In the 60’s through the eighties boys were out performing girls in education.The women’s movement rightly concerned with the welfare of girls argued that the gender gap must be closed because if either gender outperformed the other academically it would out compete the under performed gender for best paying jobs and career advancement.Thus the women’s movement agitated for education reform blaming the system not the girls in marked contrast to today as the girls are now out performing boys academically and mysteriously the system is not being blamed,the boys are! Strangely The women’s movement once so concerned when boys out performed girls are noticeably silent now that the gender gap has been reversed and girls are excelling over boys.

    This fact suggest that the women’s movement is not really interested as they claim in creating equality and parity amongst the genders. If they are than why aren’t they agitating for educational reform to address what was a problem when boys were on top but apparently is not a problem when girls are on top!

    How are girls out performing boys academically. There are far more girls on the honor rolls than boys. Some high schools have to go back ten or more years to find when a boy was chosen as valedictorian!! At award ceromies girls get the majority of the awards. As for colleges many colleges have as much as 67% females. It is clear girls are getting much better educated than are boys and women are now more than 50% of the work force.. And it is alleged that girls even out perform males in vocation schools.Even in those trades largely thought of as masculine girls are doing better.There are reasons why girls are excelling while boys are declining but it is be yon the scope of this article.

    So exactly how is girls out performing boys academically liable to lead to males becoming unemployable? Because as more and more women out compete males for high paying jobs these women are increasingly becoming the chief decision makers in household weather or not its a single mom household or even in households when their is a father present and by the way the marriage rate is also falling as a direct consequence of the gender gap in education because women regard males that aren’t as well educated and not making as much money as they are as weak men and loose respect for such men and therefor don’t marry men they regard as weak.

    Money is power and whoever makes the most money becomes the head of household, or bread winner and thus the chief decision makers. Increasingly these female decision makers are calling up auto repair shops, plumbing companies and electrical companies and inquiring as to weather or not they have females on board thus companies are finding they are loosing customers if they don’t have females on board.

    Why are female decision makers preferring female auto technicians,plumbers,and electricians? What is now being revealed is that women don’t trust men to be fair with them and not take advantage of them. Thus as more and more women do to a flawed educational system continue to out compete males for high paying jobs they will increasingly become the chief decision makers demanding females perform their work therefor its not rocket science to realize that if women become the majority of decision makers and, they don’t trust men then companies are going to be forced to hire females tradesmen or loose business to those companies who can satisfy the demand for more women tradesmen.

    In all probability the day could come when the term tradesman will be changed to tradeswoman. This explains why we are seeing vocation schools aiming their ads towards female students.

    As the pool of women trained in the trades enlarges more females tradesmen will be available. That day isn’t as far off as some might think because female only companies are already beginning to dot the landscape. There is also an increasing desire on the part of women to support women owned and managed companies. Recently in the news media women have remarked that they see the need to support women led businesses. This is also a bad sign for males. No wonder that women led companies are succeeding at a higher rate than men led companies. It may not be so much that women make better entrepreneurs as they like to think as it simply is that women give their business to other women once again because they don’t trust men.

    Thus it should be clear that if females continue to out perform males academically they will out compete males for the best paying jobs which will lead to women loosing their attraction for males which historically has been based upon men’s ability to provide for her and the children. but once women perceive of themselves as the mighty hunter and men as weak all bets are off that they will want to marry weak males. Even now lesbianism is on the increase as women see other women as strong providers and so prefer each other to weak males.

    In order to stop this trend we must make the educational system gender neutral and not as it now is girl friendly and boy unfriendly.Not many girls say they don’t like school but many boys say they don’t like school. How then can it be expected that boys will do well in a school system they don’t like? This is why I have written this article as a wake up call to society. Unless we close the gender gap in education men can become largely unemployable.

    Remember also something said thousands of years ago is just as true today as then,”The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong but time and chance happens to them all” Eccl 9:11 meaning the reasons for anything are not always obvious but fly just under the radar.

    Deep Think

  17. A Says:
    September 14th, 2013 at 6:13 am

    Yeesh. I expected more from this site. Since you’re on the MRA radar (see Deep Think’s deeply sexist comment above) it’s time to clarify womencorp’s goals and standards. Because right now it seems like you’re promoting the idea that it’ll all peachy for women (Oops-i mean “moms”) car owners if shops have a play space for their kids. I really want to think you meant to say that women, regardless of whether they have children or would bring their children to autobody shops, just wanted mechanics to stop patronizing their customers and to do a good job repairing the car.

    The quote from Lyn St. James is insulting and misses the point. She said women will feel more comfortable with clean waiting rooms. Actually, women will feel comfortable if mechanics treat them kindly, without extra attention paid to their gender. And when women leave the shop they won’t feel better with a dumbed down receipt designed specially to accommodate women’s feeble, inferior minds. They’ll feel better with their cars competently fixed at a fair price.

Comments