Women Shop Owners and Female Consumers Get Help from AskPatty.com

woman standing near a car
Jody DeVere established AskPatty.com to help women as body shop professionals and also as consumers of automotive repair services.

When a car needs repairs, it's likely that a woman will be bringing it into your shop. Those numbers have climbed over the years, and now the experts claim that 73% of all automotive repair customers are female.

In 2012, there were more women than men with driver's licenses for the very first time. On top of that, women have become more savvy consumers and can't be bamboozled anymore with technical terms and industry speak.

In addition, the automotive repair world now has more female shop owners, techs and estimators than ever, but there is still much work to do. That is why AskPatty.com was created to help. With its headquarters in Thousand Oaks, CA, AskPatty.com, Inc. aims to revolutionize the women's automotive retail market by educating business owners and repair professionals to the needs of their women customers.

For consumers, the AskPatty.com website is a safe and reliable source for expert automotive advice and research. For auto dealers, tire dealers, collision centers, auto service and repair centers, the AskPatty.com Certified Female Friendly® program is designed to train and certify automotive retail and service centers on how to increase loyalty with women customers. The idea is that knowledge is empowering and by doing a better job, more and more women will be able to succeed in a male-dominated industry.

Jody DeVere is the CEO of AskPatty.com and the founder of the organization. She's a nationally-known expert on social media marketing to women as well as being a renowned journalist, car care expert and safety spokesperson within the automotive industry. Her life's mission is to promote, mentor and support automotive careers for women and she speaks to groups including the American Car Care Council, Mercedes-Benz Corporate, the National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA), National Independent Automobile Dealer Association (NIADA), Car Care Council Women’s Board and the Association of Automotive Internet Sales Professionals.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, AskPatty.com was started by DeVere when she saw a problem and began looking for a viable solution.

"There was such a disconnect between qualified women and automotive businesses such as car dealerships, service departments and collision centers, for example," DeVere said. "So, back in 2005 when I was at SEMA, I began to formulate a program to help women in this industry. I knew it had to be built on education, interactive training and it had to have a certification module."

With more women working in a wide range of other professions, DeVere knew that the auto repair industry needed to catch up.

"After talking to literally thousands of women, I found out that they were so discouraged by the prospects of getting hired in this industry, that they weren't even applying. So, we decided to flip the script and become a champion and advocate for women in these fields. We often serve as the first point of contact for women who are seeking the very best in car sales and service across the United States and Canada."

The AskPatty.com Certified Female Friendly® program enables women and female-owned businesses to improve their skill sets and increase their revenues.

"For body shops, we teach women professionals about how to enhance their customer service through a series of internet 3.5-hour classes. There are 18 different modules and all of them are designed specifically for the automotive industry. It isn't just testing either, we also provide training, interactive teaching and personal coaching. When it comes to succeeding in a retail culture---whether it's a tire store, an aftermarket parts distributor, car dealership or a large collision center---there are many skills that are universal and will work in all these environments."

When women join AskPatty.com, they also get an opportunity to send questions to a panel of female automotive experts, access to a certified female-friendly automotive retailer search database of car dealers, tire dealers, collision centers and service and repair centers, as well as a wide range of educational webinars and other helpful information through the organization's blog, according to DeVere.

The message behind AskPatty.com is that women need to stick together, and by doing so, they can revolutionize the consumer experience for female consumers while becoming better owners and employees.

"At AskPatty.com, we have a two-pronged mission and a big part of that is helping female consumers to become more informed and savvy about all things automotive," DeVere said. "We want them to have a positive experience every time they take their car in for a repair. It's still a male-dominated industry, but the game is changing, so we need to be as educated as we can as customers as well as owners and managers. In the old days, the men would take the car into the shop, but those roles have now changed and are constantly evolving."

What will AskPatty.com be doing in 10-15 years, when more and more women are in upper management positions with automotive-related businesses?

"We've created a lot of trust with our members and women in general, by being transparent and proving that we really care about women, as both automotive professionals and consumers. So, I believe that the next decade will be amazing for women in this industry and that's why we're looking forward to helping them and enabling them to be even more effective and successful."

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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