Adapting to Change: Being Female Friendly in the Service Department
By Jody DeVere
Being female friendly is a necessity these days in all industries, including automotive, because the American woman is one of the most powerful economic forces on the planet. With $7 trillion in purchasing power, women account for 85% of consumer spending and up to 70% of repair shop customers. Okay, this isn’t exactly new information, but 2020 has brought a whirlwind of changes, and you need to know what “female friendly” means now.
Due to COVID, women are contending with additional pressures related to remote learning, childcare issues, and new safety concerns, all adding up to more time constraints and increased stress. A trip to the repair shop does nothing to ease her anxiety; without her vehicle, she loses a large part of her ability to facilitate the daily tasks needed to keep her family running smoothly.
Female friendly shops help female customers feel comfortable and confident when bringing their vehicles in for maintenance or repair. To best support and serve your female customers, you must understand and address their needs, ensuring they feel understood and respected.
Make Her Feel Safe
Safety and health are on everyone’s minds in 2020, and for women, who tend to be caregivers, those concerns are amplified. Today’s female customer wants touch-less options, with minimal human contact.
Since time constraints are another concern, offering concierge services from her home or job allows her to continue her day with minimal interruptions, while you pick up, service and drop off her vehicle. Allowing her to pay by text reduces contact even more and helps position your shop as female friendly.
Don’t forget to reassure your female customer about the sanitizing methods you’re taking to ensure the health and safety of her family. Make sure that employees always wear gloves and masks, and supply masks to customers when needed.
Make Sure She Feels Heard
How a female customer views her repair experience is based on your success at establishing trust, demonstrating respect, and improving communication, thereby building a relationship with her. This begins with friendly, welcoming counter staff, whether the first contact is made in person or by phone. A rude or disrespectful employee is the fastest way to convince a female customer to take her business elsewhere.
Service advisors should also be friendly, patient and honest. Women are likely to ask more questions than your male customers, but educating her by thoroughly answering those questions goes a long way in establishing trust and building a female friendly relationship.
Women want to receive frequent updates on the progress of their vehicle repair, and they prefer to have options, such as email and texting. Offer multiple options for communication, and ask her preference to create a female friendly experience.
Providing a written estimate creates trust because she knows what’s being done and how much it will cost. When choosing the shop that will repair her vehicle, a female consumer typically places less importance on cost than on feeling respected and feeling she can trust the shop.
Make Her Feel Welcome
You don’t need to roll out the red carpet, but your customer will feel more welcome if your waiting area includes comfortable chairs, entertainment options, and free Wi-Fi, which allows her to multi-task and use her time efficiently. Refreshments, such as snacks, water bottles and coffee, shows that you care about her comfort as well. Including a play area for children is a nice addition that demonstrates how important her entire family is to your business.
Your facility should obviously be kept clean, but special attention needs to be given to your bathrooms. Clean them frequently, and ensure they’re well-stocked. Having a diaper changing station positions your business as family and female friendly and shows your efforts to anticipate the needs of your customers.
Creating a female friendly shop begins at the core of your organization, which means hiring female mechanics, technicians and service advisors. Women want to spend their money at places where other women are willing to work.
Make Her Feel Appreciated
Women who feel empowered and respected are happy customers, but going that extra step to address her needs and concerns beyond the repair process will inspire loyalty that’s well worth the effort. You appreciate her business, so why wouldn’t you let her know how you feel?
Keep your relationship fun by sending her home with pet treats or coloring books for the kids. Follow up after her visit with a handwritten note, thanking her for trusting you with her car. Offering a free six-month safety inspection appeals to her desire to increase her family’s safety and shows it’s important to you, too.
Host a Zoom car care clinic to educate and empower women on vehicle maintenance and repair, or support local women’s charities to demonstrate your dedication to women’s issues and help gain the trust of your female customers. Addressing her needs creates loyalty with your female customer and ensures your shop receives a reputation for being female friendly.
AskPatty.com has been at the forefront of training automotive retailers on the women’s market since our founding in 2006. How can getting AskPatty.com Certified Female Friendly help you? Complete a contact form and schedule a live demo with our staff. We'll cover the program with you in detail, educate you as to how you could benefit, and answer any questions you may have.