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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Today’s Shop Must Appeal to the Ladies

Today’s Shop Must Appeal to the Ladies
by Jim Phillips

Marketing your shop properly has become a critical element for growth not to mention survival. Traditionally, we have relied on yellow pages and word of mouth to sustain our shops. Today, with increased competition and significant changes in consumer behavior (welcome to the information age) we have to be aware of how to reach new customers, retain existing customers and meet the ever changing needs of the consumer.

That said, one of the most immediate opportunities we must address as an industry is the female consumer. By understanding the wants and needs of the female consumer, we will improve aspects of our shops, and the industry as a whole, which will grow your business and help to change the negative image or perception associated with automotive repair.

The facts are that the majority of the car buying and maintenance / repair decisions made in American households are now made by the lady of the house. Be it a female college student, a young profession lady, a career woman, a single mom, a soccer mom, a widow or a highly productive wife in a mutually busy relationship, the women are the ones making the automotive related buying decisions.

  • Women purchase about two-thirds of vehicles and influence 80% of all sales. (Business Week, 2004)
  • Women accounted for 53% of auto purchases ($81 billion worth) in 2002. (Dealer Marketing Magazine, 2003)
  • Women bought 65% of new cars in the U.S. in 2002. ( USA Today, 2003)
  • Women influence about 85% of all new vehicle purchases, according to Women Motorist, a
  • Web site dedicated to women car buyers. (, 2004)
  • Women make up 18% of the compact sports car market, according to the Specialty
  • Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA). The number is expected to reach 25% in 2004. ( USA Today, 2003)
  • Women make up 65 percent of the customer base for service centers, and few feel satisfied with the service they receive. Eighty percent (80%) of these customers are not satisfied with the service and repairs they receive, and 89% feel they are treated differently because of their gender. ( American Woman Road & Travel, 2003)
    The number of women customers is growing at 97% at all car repair garages. (The New York Times, 2003)
  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of collision repair customers were women, according to a survey by the Automotive Services Association. (The New York Times, 2003)
  • Two-thirds of the women who patronize aftermarket businesses are college educated, and 15 percent of these women hold postgraduate degrees. (American Woman Road & Travel, 2003)
  • Trust is by far the most important fact to the female auto service consumer and convenience is secondary. ( American Woman Road & Travel, 2003)
  • Twenty-five percent (25%) of women responsible for maintaining their vehicles tackle light jobs like changing wipers and batteries and checking and refilling fluids. ( American Woman Road & Travel, 2003)

So what do women want? Not unlike what most people want, the ladies are looking for a shop owner / manager they trust, good communication they can understand, not to be spoken down to or treated like an idiot and a clean and functional service center. Because women are better multitaskers and more social than men, they purchase from and refer friends to service centers that help them accomplish their long list of tasks. Shops need to have a clean and safe area for children (toys, TV w/ Disney DVDs and a changing area for babies) clean bathrooms, internet access, vehicle maintenance reminders (one less thing to worry about if you manage the lifecycle of their car) convenient hours, a professional and child friendly atmosphere (no girly pictures, and no rough language) and services like a shuttle, loaner cars and niceties like a tow service and car wash.

The benchmark for us, and the proof that the investment pays off, is Lexus. I strongly recommend you visit a Lexus dealership and see how well they have addressed the buying power of the female consumer. As you already know, Lexus offers fantastic service for their customers and charges appropriately. Lexus is one of the most profitable dealer franchises because they sell quality and value.

For us in the aftermarket, raising the bar and becoming the female friendly shop loaded with value added services will provide the opportunity we need to charge more for our products and services. By improving the appearance of your service center and offering more female friendly services that all customers benefit from, will allow you to raise and justify your labor rate which funds the tools, marketing, and training necessary to make a living maintaining and repairing the complex cars of today and into the future.

Jim Phillips - Director of Marketing


B. Trieu said...

This is a wonderful blog! I def. agree that today's shop must appeal to the ladies.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

right on

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