Winning Women’s Business

March 1, 2008
Niche marketing? Shoddy bathroom? You might be flushing dollars down the drain.

Tom Ivey of Tyson’s Auto Specialties in Tyson’s Corner, Va., recently hired a consultant to find a new market for his business. The target? Women.

Research indicates that 43 percent of current auto body repair business comes from women. As Leili McKinley, managing partner for Soaring Phoenix LLC, explains, “Women are influencing 80 percent of buying decisions, purchasing 50 percent of new cars and buying 48 percent of used cars. They are involved in the process, and they care how their family investment is treated. If you leave women out of your marketing focus, your bottom line will reflect that.”

When choosing an auto body shop to repair a valued car, women base their decision on reputation, customer experience and convenience.

In Virginia, personal networking was a successful avenue for increasing Ivey’s auto body business with women. Educational networking—think focused presentations on topics like “saving money when buying tires”—combined with first-time incentives and a loyalty program was most effective.

The golden rule from McKinley’s research, however, had to do with cleanliness. What really impresses women is a clean bathroom.
According to Linda Wright, author of Skip to the Loo!: Bypass Big-Ticket Advertising and Build Business with Better Bathrooms (2007), women are always impressed, for better or worse, by bathroom facilities.

“Women care a great deal about bathroom quality in any type of public situation,” Wright says. In fact, when they find a good one, they’ll tell their friends. And that’s when your bathroom starts to impact your bottom line.

With just a little investment of time, money and care, your shop’s bathroom can shed its image as nuisance, storage space or unrecoverable overhead expense. “The loo communicates a lot about the company’s attention to detail,” Wright says. “And that’s important at a place where people are entrusting their vehicle
to you.”

Women feel pampered and appreciated when a shop has a nice bathroom. They feel that someone truly cares, and that is a huge part of building customer loyalty. Clearly, the bathroom is not a profit center for any business, so whatever effort you put into creating a welcoming space is viewed as pure hospitality.

So how much do you have to spend to build a better bathroom? Wright and her husband spent $1,000 to fix up the bathroom of the photo lab they own in Santa Barbara, Calif. Because of their efforts:

The restroom always smells glorious, and customers notice right away. A laminated floor graphic gives the impression of a cozy rug. One photo of an ocean view is framed with a window and adorned with curtains. They also added colorful paint, crown molding, a wall vase and a table vase, an art glass light fixture on the ceiling, a small wall lamp, high-end toiletries, designer waste can and purse hooks. For more ideas visit

While Wright can’t put a dollar figure on return on investment for her bathroom renovation, she measures its effectiveness in terms of customer feedback. “Nobody ever said a word about many of our more expensive marketing efforts,” she explains. “But we’ve been thanked numerous times for our restroom.” And since we were paying $3,500 each month for Yellow Page advertising at the time, a one-time expenditure of $1,000 to create this kind of impression for our business was nothing. We felt it was money well spent.”
Spoken like a lady who knows her loos.

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