This is not an article to discuss the popular movie of the same name or give advice on hormone replacement. It’s a review of what women want when they are looking for an auto repair facility.
I know what I want from an auto repair shop, but I’ve been in the auto industry most of my career as well as being exposed to dealership repair departments and local mom and pop tire centers. My brother owned a repair shop in Roslyn, New York and my Two for the Road radio partner, Bill, owned one in Arizona.
One thing I’ve observed no matter the gender is that we all want to be treated equally, whether it’s in corporate America, the grocery store or buying a car. So when it comes to fixing our cars, replacing tires or an oil and lube, we want to be able to trust the facility where we bring our business and establish a relationship.
Over the years I’ve been asked by women in particular, how do I find a repair shop that I can trust, what do I look for, and the all-important concern, “please don’t let me be ripped off.”
The best way to start on your search is to ask a friend, family member or even a coworker where they bring their car. Decide ahead of time if you want to be close to your office or your home? Once you have a few names, give them all a call and better yet, visit the location in person.
Your vehicle is one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime and it serves you and your family well to keep it safe and in tip top condition.
You wouldn’t go to just any doctor to repair your heart, without checking him or her out, nor should you when it comes to the maintenance of your car.
When you do go to visit the shops recommended, here are some things to look for and ask:
• When you walk in, are you greeted with a “hello” or “I’ll be right with you?” Do you feel comfortable in your immediate surroundings?
• Is the waiting room clean and equipped with comfortable seating? Are there magazines to read and do they have signs indicating WiFi is available?
• Are their awards and certificates on the wall from circa 1972 or more recent? Do they work with nonprofits; do they give back to the community?
• Are there photos of the owners and the technicians with their certifications; such as ASE? Is the repair facility approved by any reputable company such as AAA, NARPRO, Garagefly, Better Business Bureau or Repairpal?
• Are the folks behind the counter courteous and does he or she answer your questions with respect and clarity? Women don’t want to be spoken down to, but more often than not, provided with more detail.
• Ask what their warranty policy is on work and parts. Make sure they call you before doing additional work without your approval. If the shops have the approval of credible organizations, you can feel confident the techs themselves are qualified to do the work.
• Find out what the turnover is in shop. There are shops that have employees for 25 and 30 years. Women want to establish a rapport with employees and feel confident they will be there the next time they bring in their car.
• Don’t hesitate to ask if you can walk in to the bay area to see how clean the floors, the tools and the technicians are. Be aware that there are safety rules about customers is work areas, so don’t be turned off it they seem cautions or reluctant, but they should be able to take you far enough so you will get the idea. Do they have a FREE pick up and deliver policy to your home or office?
• Many women bring their children with them while they wait for a repair or estimate. Is there a play area for the children? Is there a television?
• Does the waiting room serve beverages? Some repair shops go all out with latte machines and fancy creamers, but a nice cup of coffee or tea served in a mug, not a Styrofoam cup, is a welcomed perk.
Don’t feel that all these added conveniences will raise the price of your repairs, it will not. Repair facilities should welcome you in to their “home,” treat folks the way they want their wife, mother, sister or daughter to be treated. Women want to enjoy the experience.
I am not saying your repair facility has to be like a Ritz Carlton spa, but there are some easy and inexpensive touches that can make a woman feel more comfortable.
Last but not least… and, to me, the most important for women:
• A clean restroom, and I mean clean. No woman likes to go in to a public restroom that has not been maintained, supplies replaced or has an unpleasant odor.
There is a facility in Phoenix, Arizona that took a clean restroom one step further. At Community Tire and Repair the owners wife said, “we can increase our business and maintain our loyal customers if we show our largest audience that our facility is female friendly,” and that she did. Everything was addressed from the customized baby changing table to the Tuscan sink and vanity.
There are foam soap and paper towels, but you will also find a note in a frame on the vanity that states … feminine products provided and they are always maintained. The biggest surprise was a stack of infant size diapers with “Wet Ones” under the sink. It is like going to grandmas and not having to open your diaper bag.
Women are brand loyal and will tell other women about their experiences. We don’t need a special room painted in pink, or photos of women in a mechanic’s jumpsuit at the door. We want to be treated with respect and have you understand what’s important to us. Just like this article, woman know what they want, now can the businesses deliver?
Here are some statistics that repair facilities should know as well as any other retail or service businesses in America. This is a compilation of statistics from the Harvard Business Journal, Forbes and Nielsen Ratings:
• Women own 40% of all American private businesses.
• Senior Women, age 50 plus, have a combined net worth of $19 trillion.
• 1.3 million women earn over $100,000 annually.
• Women spend over 58% of all retail dollars spent in the U.S.
• 68% of new car purchase decisions are made by women.
• 65% of requested service at dealers are made by women.
• Women spend over $200 billion on new cars and mechanical servicing of vehicles in the US each year.
• 78% of women identify themselves as the primary household shopper.
• Over the course of a family’s life, 90% of all married women will control its wealth.
For more about women, and what they want, go to www.twofortheroadusa.com.