The automotive business is thought of as traditionally male dominated. The fact of the matter is that for about the last ten years women have become the primary automotive repair and service customer. It’s not a Good Olé Boys Club anymore.
A study released by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association shows that almost 90% of women are involved in the decision making process of the household’s vehicle maintenance and repair. Women now represent 73% of service customers in North America. Women are also the number one purchasers of auto repair and service in North America, spending 300 Billion dollars each year. These are amazing statistics. Are you getting your share of this very lucrative market segment?
Women think differently than men and are looking for shops that cater to them. A primary difference is that women are relationship buyers. This means that once you have developed a relationship with them, they will be loyal to you and to your shop. They will travel further to your shop than male customers. They will listen to your advice and recommendations. They will also become advocates for your shop. This can be a very mutually beneficial relationship for your female customer and for your shop.
WHAT WOMEN ARE LOOKING FOR
Let’s begin where women begin. Look at your website. Does it have pictures of guys fixing cars? Are there hot rods and wrenches? These images are traditional and outdated. While we do repair cars, what we really offer is dependable trouble free transportation for families. I would suggest pictures of families and their minivan and soccer moms smiling by their cars. Promote your nationwide warranty. Proudly display your credentials, like the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Automotive Service Excellence certifications, and any other relevant affiliations. Display pictures of your staff with a quick bio. The message needs to be dependable, professional, and friendly. The same ideas should be applied to your social media. About 73% of women report looking at online reviews before going to a repair facility. In fact, women have, on average, three social media accounts. Your online presence is more important than ever.
Your shop should have good curb appeal. The pavement should be well maintained. No weeds growing through the cracks or all along the building. Make sure you have fresh signage with a modern logo. There should be convenient parking close to the front door. Maybe have a few exterior plants to offset the industrial look. Your shop should look inviting and modern. The showroom should be attractive and comfortable. It takes a lot more than a clean bathroom to attract women. There are many things that are easy to do that will promote a female friendly message. Start with the idea of a hotel lobby, modern décor and colors. Try to use residential type furniture and provide a flat screen tv with the remote accessible. Have an area with beverages and snacks available. Provide WIFI for your customers that is easy to access and signs that advertise it. Have a child’s play area with toys and books. The restrooms should have decorator touches and make sure it stays clean. Make sure you have plenty of soap, air freshener, and supplies. Provide a selection of magazines for all interests. Displaying pictures of your staff, with a brief professional bio, adds professionalism. Hang up your plaques that show your affiliation with agencies like the BBB, Chamber of Commerce, ASE, along with any organizations that your shop promotes, such as sports teams, church events, schools, etc. Women are 78% more likely to buy from companies that support local charities which they also support. It demonstrates that being a good citizen of the community is important to you and to your shop.
TREAT HER RIGHT
Making your customers feel welcome begins on the phone. This is even truer with women. Take your time and answer the phone so that the name of your shop and the person answering are clear, friendly, and not rushed. Always be helpful and accommodating. When she arrives, greet her as soon as she comes through the door. When you begin the repair order be ready to listen. Ask open ended questions. Women will give you a lot of details about how their car is symptomizing. This will help with diagnosing the problem quickly and accurately. Listening demonstrates concern and builds trust. Ask how she wants to be contacted; text message, email, or by phone. Make your sales presentation organized and informative.
Think about purchasing decisions that you have personally have made without a full understanding of the situation. It’s an uncomfortable, vulnerable feeling. It is your responsibility to remove the out of control feeling and replace it with peace of mind. The best way to accomplish this is by organizing your recommendations into a few categories.
Needed repair: Important items that should be done now
Reliability: Things that should be dealt with soon
Preventative Maintenance: Services that should be done, but are not pressing at this time
Present each category without using any technical jargon. Explain it as you would to your mother or sister. You get the point across in simple terms and do it with respect and understanding. Quote prices for everything, parts, labor, taxes, etc. For example, “The total cost for the front brakes is $287.”
FOUR CRITICAL THINGS FOR MAKING YOUR FEMALE CUSTOMER HAPPY
Fix the car right the first time
Be at or under the estimated cost
Have the car fixed on time or early
Keep her car clean, inside and out
When she picks up her car, review the invoice with her. Go over the items that should be done in the future. Thank her for her business. Tell her to feel free to call anytime she has any questions or concerns, and set her next appointment. Women are great about keeping appointments. Be sure to use service reminder stickers. About 57% of women use the sticker and will bring the vehicle in when it’s time.
Follow up in 72 hours. Ask if all is going well with her car. Resolve any issues if needed. Remind her to call anytime. Be sure to thank her for her business again. You can become her “go to” shop by empowering her with information. When you earn her trust you will have a customer for life and she will share her experience with other women who are looking for a shop that will put them in the driver’s seat too!