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What Women Want

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So you’ve made yourself a female-friendly employer, laying the groundwork for becoming a shop of choice for that oh-so-coveted female customer base. How to take the next step, and get those ladies into your shop? Jody DeVere, who makes her living telling automotive companies how to appeal to female consumers as CEO of AskPatty.com, offers some suggestions. (“These I’ll give them for free. For more they have to pay,” says DeVere, ever the businesswoman.)

• Visit the ladies’ loo. “For a guy, if the bathroom has toilet paper and a toilet that flushes, that’s good enough. I don’t want to go on and on about restrooms, but it really will make or break a woman’s experience.”

• Have female employees around, even if they’re not necessarily the ones interacting with the customers. “When a woman walks in, she’s automatically going to be more relaxed if she sees equal parts men and women working there.”

• Consider having your female employees answer the phones. “I can tell you, women and men answer the phone differently in the tone and volume of their voice,” DeVere says. “When a woman answers, she is also more likely to say, ‘Thank you for calling, how can I help you?’ They have a different telephone manner, even without training. I know this because I phone shops everyday.”

• Figure out where women congregate locally and connect with them there. Here are some of DeVere’s favorite places to find female customers for the automotive industry:

No. 1: Colleges and universities. “These are single women away from their fathers and brothers for the first time,” making them prime customers for an empathetic, respectful collision repair shop.

No. 2: Military communities. “Military wives who may have husbands stationed far away” make great potential customers.

No. 3: Retirement communities. “Women live longer than men and they need to keep taking care of their vehicles,” DeVere says. “They might not have been responsible for the care and maintenance of their vehicles,” so having a caring collision center available is important for them—and good business for you.

No. 4: Girl Scouts of the USA. “Girl Scouts can earn car-care badges,” DeVere says, adding that adults who are involved with Girl Scouts are also often involved in the local PTA. So if you can get in with the Girl Scouts, you can create some excellent word-of-mouth advertisement for your shop.

No. 5: Any women-related local charity except ones for breast cancer awareness. “The breast cancer one is over-used,” DeVere says. “There are more local charities out there than that. It’s all about developing relationships and looking outside your four walls, not just about running an ad in the newspaper.”

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