The Progressive Guide to Understanding and Relating to Women

March 12, 2018

Eighty-five percent of the market bringing their vehicles in for service is women. The average auto professional spends so much time with men, they might struggle to relate with women. Here’s how Audra Fordin says to connect with female drivers.

After spending 50-plus years working six days a week 6a.m. to 6 p.m. in the auto repair shop (20-plus years with me on Sanford ave in flushing) my dad is now a member of “The ROMEO” Club. Retired Old Men Eating Out.

Only one out of fifty mechanics are female. Things haven't changed much since my dad was turning wrenches. Eighty-five percent of the market bringing their vehicles in for service is women. The average auto professional spends so much time with men, they might struggle to relate with women.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re in the right place. Here’s how to connect with female drivers.

Be mindful of your words.

“Women are bad drivers.”

“Women know nothing about cars.”

“You had a wreck? Was a woman involved?”

Don’t say these things. If you do, stop. You might be alienating  more than half of your customer base and not even know it. Besides, statistics proven differently. Women are less likely to speed, violate traffic laws, and cause car accidents. In other words, men are clearly worse drivers. Sorry for ruining your day.

Show her you care.

“What’s your name?”

“How can I help you today?”

“What essential service did you come for today?”

Ask lots of questions. Let her speak without any interruptions. (That means no “mansplaining!”) If you’re thorough, there won’t be any guessing about what she needs. You’ll know exactly how to help this driver. Also, make an effort to understand who she is as a person. Women prefer to have an emotional bond or connection with the people they work with.  

Offer to educate her.

“Do you know how to check your fluids?”

“Have you ever learned how to open your hood?”

“Are you aware of your recommended maintenance schedule?”

Women want to learn. Provide them with the opportunity. You’ll create a loyal army of customers and proactive drivers who will support your auto repair shop forever (or at least until they move). Explain the benefits of what you’re teaching. Checking auto fluids before a road trip can prevent breakdowns. Following the maintenance schedule can add years to a car’s lifespan. “Ok, I’m in!”

Be transparent about prices.

“It costs HOW much?!”

“I didn’t see this coming…”

“Wait. I didn’t think it was that expensive!”

Women should never be shocked by a repair price. If you fail to meet her expectations, you’ll probably never see her again. Provide women with a rough estimate of the service they request. Promise to call and ask for permission if the cost is different for some reason. Women aren’t opposed to investing in auto repair. They just expect to receive a heads-up about the exact cost. As long as you do that (and explain why a service is necessary), she probably won’t object.

Ask women how they feel about your lobby.

“Ugh. This restroom is so dirty. It’s sickening.”

“I want coffee, but I’m not sure that’s sanitary…”

“Do you see this floor? Has it ever been mopped?”

Women notice certain things men don’t. Often, those things involve cleanliness (or lack thereof). Since auto shops are dominantly ran by men, they often don’t account for women’s preferences. This is a massive mistake. If people aren’t comfortable in your lobby, they won’t feel welcome. They’ll procrastinate about repairs, because they don’t want to spend time in that atmosphere. Ask several women for honest opinions about how they feel at your shop. Make adjustments based on their feedback. Ask your favorite female customers if they notice anything different.

Meet their objections without being defensive.

“Why should I trust you?”

“This price seems a bit steep…”

“Are you sure this repair is necessary?”

Women might object to a repair recommendation. Don’t defend yourself. Listen to her speak. Pause to digest what she expressed. Respond in the most calm and constructive way possible. For example, let’s say a woman objects to a tire replacement. She feels like it’s not needed now. You could say: “May I show you something? It’ll help you understand.” Next, walk her to the car. Ask her to inspect the tires. If there are any holes, tears, or low tread, make sure she notices it. Finally, show her a brand new set of tires, and ask: “Can you see a pretty significant difference?” At this point, she won’t resist since you proved the necessity of the service without being nasty.

Every auto professional needs to know how to understand and relate with women. If you agree, share this article with your network. They will appreciate the advice.

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