co-owner of Knight’s Automotive
As a wife, mother and major decision maker in my family when it comes to purchases of goods and services, I have lots of experience as a consumer. My past experiences as a female consumer, both good and bad, have helped influence the way I market and manage my own auto repair business. I make sure that our shop gives the same friendly service and high quality products that I expect from the people I do business with. In particular, I pay special attention to meeting the needs of my female clients.
Why do I have so much attention on female clients? It turns out that I am not alone as the major decision maker on purchases for my family. Even in what is perceived as a male domain, women request 65% of the service work done on cars (in our shop it’s closer to 75%) Women spend over $200 billion on new cars and servicing of vehicles each year. We buy more than half of the new cars in the US and influence up to 80% of all car purchases. There is power in the female demographic indeed. It pays to find out what your women customers want and need then deliver it. To do this successfully you must first understand that men and women—for the most part—communicate and make decisions differently.
Besides trust, which is important to both male and female consumers, women want a “relationship.” We all know that being in a relationship requires a higher level of care and communication to nurture and sustain it in the long term. Women want more information about what is being done to their vehicle and why. They want you to listen to them, educate them and not talk down to them. I call this the C.A.R.E. factor: Completely And Respectfully Explain their car care needs to them in language they can understand. We like to use visual aids at the counter and walk the customer out to the car when necessary.
While men tend to communicate less and want a brief explanation of price and function of the repair or service, women want more details. Female clients also prefer you to take a personal interest in them, their families, jobs and hobbies. Ask a woman about her kids, her business accomplishments or her hobbies and watch her brighten up immediately. This increased familiarity, sincere care and concern goes a long way in building long term relationships with your female customers. Since, happy, long-time female customers are more inclined to refer business to your shop than male customers (in my experience); they are the best customers to have.
Acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries or writing personal thank you cards are successful marketing actions to consider in building relationships with your female client base as well as personal follow-up phone calls after service is performed. Some additional points to ponder when marketing your repair shop to women are:
• Make sure that your shop is clean and neat both on the inside and the outside. Do not confuse this with fancy. The reception area should be scrubbed and fresh smelling. Include comfortable seating where possible. Female-friendly magazines, coffee, bottled water and fresh baked cookies are nice touches.
• Pleasant music playing is preferred over a television blaring bad news.
• Insure that your bathroom is sparkling clean and smells good.
• Just as your physical location should be scrubbed, so should your online reputation. Women are more likely to engage in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as check review sites such as Google, Yelp or Insiderpages before deciding who to do business with. Respond to your reviews and engage your customers on these sites. Happy customers will share your information with their friends and family members online.
• Make certain that your website is fresh and attractive. Including personal information about yourself and your employees makes you real to potential customers. Pictures and education points are also helpful.
• Set up regular maintenance schedules and send reminders. Utilize all the current technologies such as text messaging and email as well as direct mail according to the individual preferences of your customers.
• Leave your customer’s cars clean and smudge-free. Besides making a good first impression, making a good last impression is also important especially to the more discerning female customer. Use floor mats, seat covers or steering wheel covers to prevent any dirt or grease from damaging the interior. Do not change the radio station. Offering a complimentary car wash or interior vacuum for large jobs are also welcome treatments.
These are just a few female friendly ideas to get you started. Of course the best way to find out what your female customers want and need is ask them! Survey your female customers. They will love that you care enough to ask their opinion. This is another action which builds long term relationships.
At the very least, ask your wife, mother, girlfriend or daughter her opinion of your shop. They will tell you like it is, both the good and the bad. Adjust accordingly. It is helpful to ask yourself: how would I want my wife, mother, girlfriend or daughter to be treated? Go over this viewpoint with everyone at your shop from service writers, managers to technicians.
Though I have addressed the female customer base, many of these points are good practice when dealing with your male customers as well. Make the women happy and the men will certainly follow. It takes a little effort, but it will pay off in the long run, with repeat business, future referrals and an increased viable customer base. That is a huge return for just “making Mama happy.”
I learned ALL this and so much more with Management Success’s amazing and knowledgeable staff. I very highly recommend that you attend the How To Increase Your Profits seminar—don’t wait! Let their staff show you just how successful your shop can be!
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