Dori Eppstein: What it means to be ‘Female Friendly’ in today’s quickly changing world
By Dori Eppstein, GM of Sales & Marketing, AskPatty.com
To say that times have changed is an understatement.
Not only are we currently dealing with the fallout from a pandemic that is yet to go away, but it has also forever changed the world in which we live and do business.
Knowing this, how does it change how we need to be female-friendly right now?
The most significant change is that women, much like everyone, are looking for ways to navigate their world safely, efficiently, and quickly for themselves and their families. Women are looking for convenience that makes their lives easier without compromising safety.
Safety is number one. That means ensuring your business is doing all you can to make a woman feel safe when she walks into your lobby. States and counties differ on safety regulations, so make sure you know yours. Take it a step further and get to know what makes your customers feel safe and implement procedures accordingly. Then make sure they understand what you’re doing through your marketing efforts.
From there, make it easy for your female clients. One of the best ways to do that is through text messaging. Whether she’s a busy soccer mom, a high-level executive, or both, most women today would rather hear from us via a text message than any other modality. Consider that 93% of people have their cell phones sitting right next to them at all times and read 80% of text messages within the first three minutes of the initial ping.
Don’t overuse this method, but it’s a great way to keep your customers informed of the service work you are performing, special events, and coupons. You can even create ways for them to pay without ever having to step foot inside your business through texting options.
One of the ongoing basics to keep in mind is that the women’s market is far more sophisticated than ever. We want equal pay and equal rights, and we want the same respect men receive when they walk into an automotive repair shop or onto a dealer floor. Don’t ever assume that it’s the man making the money-spending decisions. Make eye contact with her and take the time to listen to what she has to say.
It’s no longer as simple as a clean bathroom and Good Housekeeping magazines in our lobbies. Women are savvier when it comes to spending, and that means we, as businesses, need to be much wiser in how we approach working with and marketing to women.
I wanted to know what women shop owners think about what it means to be female-friendly, so I reached out to my Successful Women in Automotive round table group, and this is what some of them said:
“I think it is more about the industry raising the standards to treat everyone male or female & their vehicles as we wish to be treated. We all want a clean waiting room, an organized office, a place that looks like they know what they are doing, women are likely more vocal or descriptive about what they want or expect, but men want the same basic things.” — Carrie Budde, Budde Enterprises, Newton, Kansas
“Being female-friendly means treating women as capable decision-makers and giving them the information needed to make an informed decision. Creating an environment in our shop that is welcoming and respectful. Including women in the conversation, even when she comes in with a man.” — Maryann Croce, Croce’s Transmission Specialists, Norwalk CT
“For me female-friendly, when you dig down deep is about being respectful, knowing that she may not have an understanding of a particular topic but we don’t assume she’s incapable of comprehending the concept after some explanation and discussion, so she is able to make a good decision about the financial investment you are asking her to make in her vehicle, at your facility. It’s our ability as shop owners to empower her with knowledge and information, as we should any customer that comes our way.” — Tiffany Scherado, Lifetime Transmissions, Broken Arrow, AZ
“I treat my guests like I would my Mom or my Grandmother. From the minute a guest calls to the time they leave, I listen. It’s really that simple. Listen to their concerns, listen to the backstories, listen for fears in their voice. No one likes car repairs. It costs nothing to pay attention.” — Colleen Yarger, Mark’s Independent, Chatsworth, CA
When it comes to being female-friendly, it starts with trust and goes from there. Over 80% of women will continue to buy from you and use your services if we feel that we can trust you. Women don’t buy from brands; we buy from people. Learn how to communicate and connect with women, and the rest will take care of itself.
In summary, here are four key ways to be female-friendly:
- Safety: help your female clients feel safe. Offer concierge service, hands-free payment options, as well as a contactless drop-off/pick up option.
- Make doing business with you as convenient as possible by utilizing texting communication options to keep them apprised of the work you are performing on their vehicles, current specials, or events.
- Build trust through showing compassion, concern, sensitivity, and in improving your listening and communication skills.
- Teach us what we need to know, so we feel confident in our buying decisions, but never assume what we do or do not know.
Even if you feel you are already doing a good job with your female consumers, take it to the next level and have your team go through training with AskPatty.com. Once you’ve done that, make sure to use the marketing collateral we provide you every month to prove to your consumers that you have gone the extra mile to be there for them. The learning curve on how to market to women is continually changing.
Dori Eppstein is the founder and president of Successful Women in Automotive. In addition, she is the general manager of Sales & Marketing for AskPatty.com. She grew up in Southern California and started off in the auto repair industry handling the marketing for her brother’s first shop. She learned more about the business challenges auto repair shop owners face through the marketing work she did as well as through all of the reviews she handled for shop owners around the country. Her extensive leadership experience over the decades and her own entrepreneurial endeavors combined with her knowledge of the auto repair industry to make a perfect marriage to begin coaching and consulting in this industry. MORE