The recent opening of Girls Auto Clinic in the Philadelphia area has received a lot of news coverage as of late. According to owner Patrice Banks, she founded the shop, which doubles as a nail salon, as an alternative to typically male-dominated facilities. Her marketing pitch is that women are frequently taken advantage of at traditional shops and made to feel uncomfortable. At first, I was annoyed by the broad brush Banks used to paint men and the auto care industry in general.
But looking at the coverage Girls Auto Clinic received for their opening did offer a fresh perspective on our industry that some people choose to ignore: How some shops educate, hire and market to the public is not conducive for growing a diversified industry that caters to every demographic.
First, all consumers have anxiety about asking questions about repairs — it’s not just a female issue. Men are often even worse because they don’t want to admit to automotive ignorance in the first place for fear of being judged as less manly. Shops should spend more time educating customers (both men and women) about their vehicles. Showing all customers how to check their oil or spending a little time explaining a TPMS warning light can go a long way in creating better customers.
Second, there are not enough women working at independent repair shops today. Shops need to attract more women if they are going to survive. We are fighting a technician shortage. It doesn’t matter if a technician is male or female, if they have an aptitude for fixing cars, we need them now. To attract more women, we need to be more inclusive when recruiting the next generation of techs.
Third, some owners have to clean and fix up their shops. I am not saying every shop needs a nail salon in the waiting room, but some shops need a “woman’s touch” when it comes to the front counter and waiting room. Grease stains and dirty floors aren’t exactly the best representation of a modern shop.
Lastly, shops, and the industry as a whole, need to be more savvy about marketing and PR. Most shops have a heart of gold and perform miracles on their customers’ vehicles. The media needs to know about it.