How can you make your shop more attractive to women consumers and attract and retain female employees? Simple.

For many shops, hiring women is about putting forward an atmosphere of friendliness and trustworthiness, particularly to women customers, who, as we all know, account for 85 percent of all purchase decisions.

It turns out that hiring women involves more than just appearances. Studies such as “The Case for Investing in Women” (tinyurl.com/hirewomen), a report released in 2014 by the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), contains some impressive research on women in business. Other studies by organizations such as McKinsey & Company, Catalyst and Columbia University have shown that companies that attract and hire women employees are quantifiably more successful than companies that do not.

However, what I hear most often from shop owners and hiring managers is that women don’t apply for jobs as technicians, customer service staff or service advisory positions. Anecdotal comments I hear from women and shop owners are that they often don’t get hired as technicians because they “won’t fit in with the guys in the back” or because shops fear sexual harassment and other legal issues associated with hiring women.

In 2017, women held just 25 percent of all positions in the automotive industry, including manufacturing. With this in mind, it will take a concerted and sustained effort to attract, hire and retain women – and it’s worth the effort. Check out this list of 10 ways to make your business more attractive to women (consumers and potential employees) and make your business more successful.

1. Create a Female-Friendly Culture:

Previous poor treatment and lack of respect for female job candidates – and women customers, for that matter – leaves a negative, lasting impression on how women perceive our industry. It’s difficult to believe that in some repair shops, women are still greeted with a detestable statement such as, “Is your husband with you today?” Commit to providing a consistent, female-friendly culture and experience.

2. Provide New-Hire and Ongoing Training:

Statistics show that there is an increase in the number of women interested in pursuing automotive careers. To attract these women, work with your local automotive trade schools, as well as your high school career fairs and apprenticeship programs. Also, provide scholarships for women and offer to include ongoing training and education with financial support in your compensation plans. This will give you a competitive advantage in hiring and retaining women and, in fact, all of your new employees.

3. Create a Career Path:

Re-examine the positions in your company that effectively interest and challenge women and encourage their entry into the industry, as well as in making it their career.

4. Offer Flexible Schedules:

Consider not just the primary financial needs of full- and part-time women employees but also their family and personal needs. Millennial men and women who have children want a career that offers a flexible work schedule that allows them to participate in their children’s school events and after-school activities.

5. Commit to Mentoring:

Make it a point to formally mentor women employees. And, as an owner, you need to invest in their careers by allowing them to attend conferences such as the Women in Auto Care biannual events. A national organization comprised of auto care professionals dedicated to providing opportunities, education and career leadership to women in the industry, Women in Auto Care offers a formal mentoring program, as well as the opportunity to learn and network with other women who want to build their careers.

6. Make Them Part of the Team:

Shake off the old “We’ve always done it this way” approach and try new methods. Explore realistic ways to meet the needs of female employees. Challenge and eliminate the thinking and procedures that have been used forever and failed.

7. Actively Listen to Their Thoughts:

You must understand that the female perspective is essential to your business. Ask for their opinions and listen when you’re conducting your job interviews with them. And after you’ve hired a woman, keep an open-mind. You might be surprised at the great insights about marketing, selling, serving and communicating better with women customers that she will bring to your team.

8. Support Women in Your Local Market:

You can send a strong message to the women in your community by supporting groups such as the Girl Scouts, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and other local charities that support women’s issues or health concerns. And networking with your local women’s organizations creates a pool of potential employees from which to hire.

9. Include This in Help-Wanted Ads:

When placing advertising for potential new hires, carefully craft job descriptions to include mentions of job experiences that match fields where women traditionally have had work experience. Doing so sends a strong signal to women job seekers that you will welcome them in your shop. And, of course, place these ads in the customer service or retail categories where women with the right experience will see them, as well as in the “automotive category” of online job services such as Indeed, Monster, etc.

10. Highlight Women in Your Business:

Prominently feature your women employees – their photos, profiles, roles and responsibilities – on your social media network. Again, you’ll be telling a great story to women consumers and potential employees that you value women’s skills, abilities and buying power. Women spend three times more time on social media, per day, than men. Facebook ads aimed specifically at women that tell this story serve as an effective tool to advertise and promote open positions to women job seekers.

Make a long-term commitment to attract, hire and retain more women. You’ll realize higher profits, gain a strategic marketing advantage and increase your retention rate with women customers