Running a Shop Columnists

Stokes: Celebrating Women in the Auto Care Industry

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You rarely see women in auto repair. Most of the time women feel that there's a wall put up by all of us men, and they feel they're not welcome; that it's a dirty industry, and it's not for them. But I have hired multiple female managers. I've hired multiple female technicians. And they've always been amazed.   

We discount how intimidating it can be for a woman to come into our industry. Out of all the owners I coach, the women I coach are some of the best-performing owners in the entire group. It's because they are so attentive to detail. They don't let anything slip through the cracks, whereas the guys are sloppier. They have also pulled off some insane numbers and amazing growth. They are the cadence in a shop. They are more organized. One of the biggest issues with auto repair in America is it's dominated by males and that's what makes people complain and say: 'No one called me back,’ 'They're not organized', 'They didn't get to my car on time’, 'They didn't do this or that.' And that is because of the deficiency in males in general. We put our heads down and just work. We don't think about the fact that we are blowing a promise time for our customers. We don't think about the fact that we didn't call someone back. We don't even care and that's the worst part. But women are thinking about the commitment that was made. They're thinking about the promise that was made. They are thinking about how we impress this customer. They are making sure the office is hitting every single promise. That's something women do because they just handle context switching better and so much faster than males do.   

When you meet female technicians in the auto repair shop, people say they can't do it because of the strength issue. That is very rare that it becomes an issue and if it is they can always ask for help. Most of the time, it's not an issue. It just isn't. And female techs are so much more detail-oriented. We always have fewer comebacks with females than we do with males. They just pay attention. We need to be encouraging them because honestly, the tech shortage in part is because we have basically focused on just one of the genders in our industry, and we could be going after females as well. They can solve the entire tech problem.   

I will also point this out: every female client I have has had less turnover in general than males. I believe it’s that motherly angle, the hospitality angle, the kindness angle, and the being sensitive to your employees' needs angle. It trumps the male owners over and over because when they work with a female owner, they feel like she cares about them. We need to learn from the female owners and pay attention to how they steward their flock, and how they lead their people because they do it so much better. They run their shops, like a family and we need their perspective. It's one of the reasons our industry is suffering: we don't have enough females in the industry right now and they’re important to us all. 

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