Service, Repairs and Women
In This Session
Female Friendly Sales Training
Just as little as a generation ago, there were few businesses more masculine than lumber yards… and auto service centers.
Today, Home Depot and Lowes have expanded their marketing efforts to equally attract women customers. We think it’s time the auto industry did the same.
Table of Contents
1. Creating an Inviting Environment
2. Focus on Facts and Answers
3. Empathy and Understanding
4. Telephone Skills
7. Car Care Clinics and Seminars
Creating an Inviting Environment
Women are extremely detail oriented. They notice small details that most men never see. Like the stains in carpet, dirty windows or funny smells no one else seems to notice, but she also notices if the restrooms are not well equipped, and if she has to wrangle kids while she waits, this can be stressful.
In the Restroom
One of the critical areas to focus on at your location are the bathrooms. A less than spotless bathroom in your location may be the only thing a woman remembers, and then tells her friends about.
Tips to Make Your Women’s Restroom a Pleasant Experience
- Make sure the bathrooms are well lit and that the mirror is clean. Include decorative touches like flowers.
- Install a hook on the back of the door so they can have a place to hang their purses.
- Include hand lotion, and spray air fresheners and keep them full. Also – provide feminine hygiene products!
- Add a baby changing station.
- But most of all, keep the bathroom spotless!
- Women will notice!
Adding a small, safe play center will make a visit to your location more enjoyable for the parents.
Kids’ Play Area
Tips for Creating a Play Area for Kids
- Remove All Unnecessary Distractions – your play area should be away from foot traffic, and not contain a TV, video games, or computers.
- Make your play area inviting with bright colors and natural light if possible.
- Create activity “zones” to cut down on chaos. There may be a Lego/block building zone, a zone with dolls and a dollhouse, a zone for coloring or drawing, and so on.
- Keep your selection of activities and toys varied and balanced.
- Let parents stay close, but not too close. The kids’ area should be a free play zone.
Keep it Tidy
Keep your business clean. Like the bathrooms, women will notice if it’s cluttered or messy. They’ll see coffee stains on the rugs, the dirty windows, and dusty blinds, the old coffee cups, and the messy desks.
That goes for people, too
No Grease Monkeys
Also try to ensure that customer-facing employees are clean, and not covered with grease. Remember that women do not feel comfortable around dirty businesses, and that includes the people.
How’s Your Curb Appeal?
- Are the grass and flower beds filled with weeds?
- Is the exterior paint starting to fade?
- How about your signage or exterior lights?
- Do bulbs need to be replaced?
- A customer’s first impression of your business starts with the outside!
The Waiting Room
Your customers may spend a considerable amount of their time in your waiting room so it should make a statement about you – and express how much you value your customers.
Give Yours a Try
Do You Know Your Own Waiting Room?
Start by sitting in your own waiting room for half an hour.
How out of date are the news magazines?
What’s that mysterious carpet stain?
Is there coffee? Is it fresh? And what’s that funny smell?
What About the WiFi?
Can your customers access your WiFi? Is Guest access on, or is the password plainly posted?
In today’s world, people expect free Internet access. But make sure it works and has a strong signal. You don’t want to frustrate customers by advertising free WiFi if customers can’t use it.
What’s Your Favorite Soda?
One investment that customers will remember is a self-serve coffee or soda fountain. Like your magazines, make sure you offer a wide selection, including several diet drink options.
I would drive across town for a Diet Sprite.
Add a Human (or Canine) Touch
Another nice detail that women will notice are the accessories you decorate the building and work areas with.
Encourage your staff to display family photos at their desks – particularly baby and pet pictures!
Do it Bright
Decorate your waiting room in a light color scheme and make sure the lighting is nice and bright.
Research shows that women prefer “bright” uncluttered environments, so add lights if needed.
Drop the Pinups
It should go without saying, but we’ve had to say it many times.
It is no longer appropriate to have pinup calendars or other photos of scantily clad or naked women in the garage or work areas. Take them down.
If you have an outdoor smoking area for employees, relocate it to the back or another location where customers won’t see it.
At Least 65%
…take their own vehicles to a repair shop for service. Women influence the spending of over $300 billion every year on automotive purchases – including service and repairs.
Focus on Facts
Nearly 60% of women…
…have ceased all business with a company because of poor customer service. Since women are often expecting poor treatment when they come to an auto service center, it’s important for you to never give her a reason to feel poorly treated.
Women need empathy, understanding, facts, and answers.
Customer Service Tips
Service with a Smile…
- Always have answers to her question – if the answer is “I don’t know,” find out, and make it a priority.
- Expect more questions from women, and tougher ones, too.
- Give frequent updates.
- If an issue comes up that will affect the cost, try to have this conversation face to face. Show her, don’t tell her.
- Make her aware of complimentary amenities, shuttle service, and warranties.
How many times have
you said, “My partner/spouse just doesn’t understand me!”
When speaking to women customers, always begin from a place of empathy and understanding
Listen to the Whole Story
- Women don’t cut to the chase, they like to tell the whole story.
- Listen without interrupting and indicate empathy.
- Don’t multitask while she’s speaking.
- You will learn a lot about her, and help her to feel more comfortable and confident, too.
Give Her Choices
Often, men will be under the impression that they just need to fix the problem. This is not the case with women.
If there are options, tell her about all of them and let her make the informed decision.
Ask her questions and let her feel involved in the process. This well help her to feel respected.
A little empathy goes a long way!
How Can I Help?
How do you answer the phone at your service center? If it’s just “Jim’s Garage,” or “Service Department,” you’ve got some work to do.
Developing a warm and friendly telephone greeting is as important as developing an inviting environment. Remember, you only have a few seconds to make a first impression, and many women will make a decision whether to do business with someone based on their impressions from a first phone call.
Develop a Positive Greeting
“Good morning, you’ve reached Jason at Jim’s Garage, how can I help you today?”
A greeting like this is easy to teach to every member of your staff, and will make a huge difference in your first phone impression.
Once you’ve said your greeting, stop speaking, and let her talk. Remember, she’s a storyteller, so listen, understand, and empathize.
A Positive Atmosphere
Start Positive, Stay Positive
When you answer the phone, actually smile as you greet the person on the other line. Although it may be a bit of a cliché, a smile can truly be heard through the telephone. Smiling as soon as you connect with the customer will begin the interaction positively and create room for a productive and friendly exchange.
Be Clear and Confident
Whenever you are on the telephone, speak clearly. Enunciate and use simple words and phrases. Don’t use overly complex vocabulary or jargon.
Also, avoid slang and filler words. Saying things like “dude,” “yeah,” and “um” will detract from the quality of the interaction. If you have a tendency to use filler words such as “um” or “like.” practice taking a pause instead.
Don’t Leave Until She is Satisfied
In order to achieve a great ending to a telephone call, make sure that the caller understands the information you passed along before you hang up. Ask the customer, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Answer any final questions he or she may have to ensure complete comprehension and satisfaction. Also, provide any information that the customer might need in the future. If he or she needs to call back, share optimal contact times and whom he or she should call.
No business can have only happy customers. Somewhere along the way, someone will have something critical to say about your service center.
No one wants to hear complaints, but the right reaction can turn a negative into a positive.
Step one in de-escalation is listening. When a customer complains, she is giving you the opportunity to resolve a problem, even though she sounds upset. Listen without interrupting, and don’t forget empathy.
Mind Your Tone!
Mind Your Tone
One of the most effective communication tools you have is your tone of voice. Make sure to speak to your dissatisfied customer in a calm and composed manner. If the tone of your voice goes, up, so will hers. That’s escalation, not de-escalation.
Keep your tone calm, and eventually she will match you.
Complaints are Gifts
Start to think of complaints and criticism as gifts. This is your opportunity to show her, and everyone she talks to, what your business is really all about.
If her complaint is legitimate, own it, and make it more than right. If her complaint is due to a mis-communication, stay calm and find a compromise that works for everyone.
No matter what, always show understanding
…and another thing!
Any complaint, regardless of fault, is a genuine source of distress for that customer. Even if you cannot come to a solution that satisfies everyone, a warm and understanding reaction will still make the difference between keeping and losing a customer.
Always make sure that your women customers are aware of the amenities that you offer besides free coffee and wifi.
Your customers are busy, and often cannot wait at your location while their car is being worked on. Offer a free shuttle service so your customers can get to work, home, school, the gym, or anywhere else they need to go.
If you’re able, consider getting an electric or hybrid vehicle for your shuttle, because green practices are very important to women.
Financing and Warranties
Financing and Warranties
Big car repairs are often unexpected. Consider giving your customers plenty of payment options, including installment plans.
Additionally, you’re proud of the work that you do, so stand by it by offering a warranty, and make sure your customers are aware of it up front.
There are lots of ways to use text message marketing to keep in touch with your customers, and one of the most effective ways in the auto service industry is with text message alerts pertaining to their service. A text can remind customers of appointments, give updates when their vehicle is being worked on or is ready, and reminders for regular maintenance in the future. Make sure your customers think of you first!
Car Care Clinics
Many women want to feel empowered to understand and maintain their own vehicle. Plus, the more knowledge women have about their vehicles, the more confident and prepared they will feel the next time they have to make a service visit.
A car care clinic is your opportunity to share your expertise with women in your local area.
No training materials? No problem
When organizing your car care clinics, consider reaching out to your parts vendors to see if they have any training materials together. Additionally, the Car Care Council at CarCare.org has a wealth of materials you can use to put in a successful car care clinic for any audience.
After the seminar, give your customers an opportunity to provide feedback in a brief survey. Women want to know their voices are heard. You can build your own surveys easily for free at sites like SurveyMonkey.
Still to come in the Certified Female Friendly training:
3. Online Marketing to Women
4. Attracting, Hiring and Retaining Women Employees