In the U.S., there are half a million women actively looking to buy a new car at any given time.
They have a serious influence on all automotive purchases (85 percent), from the showroom to the service lane. Yet, 74 percent of women feel misunderstood by the automotive industry.
So, how as a body shop owner or manager do you cater to this significant percentage of your customer base? Shops all over the country have had great success thinking outside of the box. Many have produced series of how-to videos, sponsored networking/educational sessions at their facilities on a quarterly basis, embraced social media because women use sites such as Facebook and Instagram more than men do, and promoted community nonprofit organizations that appeal to women, such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and Toys for Tots.
We interviewed several female body shop owners to find out how they're getting 5-star Yelp reviews from female customers and getting recommended to their female customers’ friends and colleagues.
Kathy Mello is the owner of TGIF Auto Body in Fremont, CA. She is the president of the California Autobody Association (CAA), a member of the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) and well-known for championing women who strive to enter the industry.
An incident she encountered prior to working in the collision repair industry many years ago opened her eyes and taught her a valuable lesson.
"I had the first-time experience of getting an estimate after backing into a basketball pole at my child’s school," she said. "There were no rear-view cameras on Volkswagens back then. I went to the shop that my insurance company recommended (this was prior to DRPs). I announced myself to two ladies who were sitting at their desks in a halfway-decent office. One of the ladies called an estimator, who walked out to my vehicle without a word. I swear, he grunted several times and then wrote some things on a clipboard as I followed him.
"I sat in my original waiting spot as he did his thing. The two ladies talked with each other as they worked. I was basically invisible. The estimator completed his work and handed me a copy without a word. I said thank you and exited.