Want to Hire Women? Strategies that Work.

By Jody DeVere, CEO, AskPatty.com, Inc.

Women Jodys StoryConsider the fact that 85 percent of all automotive purchases – including tires and/or vehicle service – are either directly made by women buyers, or directly influenced by them. So how does a business go about attracting, hiring and retaining, in key positions, women employees who can cater to those female buyers?

ROI – return on investment – continues to be a major driving force in how a shop determines the programs and services it offers to entice consumers to visit their facilities. And let’s face it, information that consumers find on the Internet has affected profit margins – margins that, previously, were actually inflated by consumer ignorance about how much flexibility in costs really exists.

The fact is that we simply cannot make the margins we used to, and must find ways to address those concerns if our businesses are to survive. You simply can’t afford to play the numbers game of total sales for another month and jeopardize potential profits.

The bottom line is, your shop must concentrate the money it invests in areas bringing returns that will not only keep you in business but, by their very nature, will help your financial viability grow. That viability, in turn, will be attractive to women who may be considering a career in your industry.

Here are a few reasons why women may not be attracted to your business:

Traditional resistance.

The fact remains that many automotive-related businesses – with a few exceptions – are still male-dominated, and have programs in place that don’t make them attractive to potential female employees, or the new women-driven market. “What was good for my dad is good enough for me” very well might be the motto above the entrance of many failing or now-closed shops.

Reluctance to try new programs. Owners and management may not have the desire – or the courage – to try new programs. Or, frankly, they may be flat-out lazy.

Equitable pay and work programs.

A guaranteed formula for failure is the reluctance of a business to make necessary considerations for family needs, which can include offering part- or adjusted-time flexibility to workers. Traditional long-hour work periods just do not work as well anymore when it comes to keeping employees functioning well in an accommodating environment.

Knowledge and expertise.

Existing management may simply not have either or both of these in order to design and implement marketing that will attract women job candidates to the business, or initialize training and financial or equitable incentive programs to make that happen.

Necessary minimal monetary investments.

Many in management simply aren’t interested in exploring investments that can make their shop more attractive to female job seekers.

“Difficult economic conditions.”

Sadly, many businesses will often lean on this perception  – true or not – as an excuse to do nothing.

Negative reputation.

Previous poor treatment and lack of respect for female job candidates – or women customers, for that matter – leaves a negative, lasting impression on how women perceive the shop. It’s hard to believe that at some repair shops, women are still greeted with a detestable statement like: “Is your husband with you today?”

Failure to address the needs of women millennials.

Times are different. Women in this largest group of consumers want to be involved with businesses that make them “feel good” about their basic goals – other than just as a means of climbing through positions or solely achieving high income. They want to have better communication with their administrators, and most often prefer working “with” them, as opposed to “for” them. That’s a lot to digest. So how do we fix these shortcomings and not only bring talented women into our shop, but keep them there as well?

Here are some realistic solutions:

Shake off the old “but we’ve always done it this way” mantra and try new methods. Explore new technology. Employ marketing specialists who are comfortable with realistic ways to meet female workers’ needs. Eliminate those procedures that have been used forever – and have failed. Re-examine job positions that can effectively interest and challenge women.  Conduct non-traditional interviews that can help ascertain what these interests might be.

Re-evaluate compensation incentives and adjust them accordingly.  Consider not just the primary needs of full- and part-time women, but their family and personal needs as well. Take a new look at long-standing models that can be adjusted to eliminate restrictive traditional procedures many auto repair shops have had in place forever.

Encourage educational systems to step up and support local and regional programs that can offer realistic training for design, management, service, finance, and especially sales. And this needs to happen at ALL levels of the industry. Now, not later.

Today’s women are time-constrained, pragmatic, comfort-conscious and heavy into efficient and consistent communication with their employers. They are extremely effective at communicating within their own groups and friends, and tend to pay little attention to advertising. They are direct with their customers and are especially effective at establishing meaningful rapport that translates into return business transactions built upon trust.

If the operators of a business wish to survive, let alone prosper, they can’t wait any longer. It’s way past time for them to do everything they can to attract women as employees, and provide them with the incentives to keep them as integral and valuable emissaries for this industry.

Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com, is an authority on marketing to women, as well as an automotive journalist, car-care expert and safety spokesperson for the industry. You can reach her at jdevere@askpatty.com.