How to Engage Female Customers – Advice from a Female Master Tech
By Mia Bevacqua - an impressive Automotive retail expert with ASE Master, L1, L2 and L3 Advanced Level Specialist certifications. Over 13 years of experience in the automotive industry and a bachelor's degree in automotive technology.
Before I was an ASE certified master tech and advanced level specialist, I was a 16-year-old girl with an affinity for cars.
My dad was not handy, which meant I had to learn everything myself. Occasionally, when I got stuck working on my 1985 Chevy pickup, I would take it to the shop. Both the rear differential and transmission had to be rebuilt, jobs that were over my head at that age.
I quickly learned females don’t get a lot of respect at most repair facilities. Even though I knew the basics about vehicles, I often needed my dad (a smart man who doesn’t know squat about cars) to do the speaking for me.
The service advisors and shop owners assumed I was ignorant and made it well-known.
How to treat female customers right
Talking down to vehicle owners – whether male or female – is an easy way to drive them away. Engaging women and treating them as equals will build greater customer satisfaction. Plus, it’s the right thing to do. These five tips will help you get the job done.
1. Don’t assume they’re clueless
These days, I work as an automotive failure analysis inspector, traveling to repair facilities. I have to determine why a vehicle failed. In most cases, I must also get the repair facility to sign off and agree with my cause of failure.
Unfortunately, many repair facilities assume I know nothing – until I prove them wrong. I find it often helps to wear my ASE certification patches when I do my inspections, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. A man would be presumed to know his stuff, whereas I have to demonstrate it.
Because of my expertise, friends and acquaintances often ask for repair facility recommendations. Do you think I suggest the shops that were condescending to me? Certainly not. I recommend honest shops, with the integrity to treat all people equal.
2. Provide a welcoming environment
My first job was working as a lube tech at a dealership. The atmosphere there was not female friendly. Photos of nude women hung on toolboxes, and dirty cartoons were drawn in service manuals (which were still print at the time). Some of the male techs made passes at me.
Women make up approximately 50% of the population.
You’ve got to make sure they’re on your side.
I didn’t feel welcome there as an employee, and I’m sure the female customers didn’t feel comfortable either. Often, the technicians would leer at women bringing their cars in and make crude comments. Not surprisingly, that dealership went out of business shortly after I left.
The next shop I worked at was run by a true gentleman. He treated me as an equal, even though I was still a new technician. Women both young and old came to him for service. In fact, I would say more than half of his customers were female. Word had gotten around that he was someone they could trust. His shop is still in business ten years later and doing well.
3. Communicate clearly
When you don’t communicate clearly with a female customer, she’ll probably think you’re trying to dupe her. It’s sad but true. Women are used to getting railroaded at repair facilities, and they’ll believe you’re trying to do the same.
Take the time to explain (in a respectful manner) any needed repairs to your customer. Start the conversation with something such as "you may know this but… this is how a water pump works. Yours has failed and subsequently, the engine overheated causing damage to the head gaskets."
Explaining the details of the repair without sounding condescending is key.
4. Assume they’re the decision maker
Women customers drive 70-80 percent of all household purchasing decisions. Most don’t need to ask their husband for approval. They’re fully capable of giving the go-ahead for a repair, especially if you’ve communicated it to them well. Acknowledge this and you’ll earn a loyal customer and a good reputation.
5. Make sure all employees are on the same page
It helps to have periodic meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page. All employees need to know what’s expected of them when it comes to equality. Anyone who can’t make it happen shouldn’t be on your service team.