By Jody DeVere, CEO
We know that women are the majority purchasers of all automotive items in North America today, so if you’re looking to step up your sales figures, you’re going to need to reach women. And in doing so, you’ll gain favor with all customers.
In this column, we’re not going to focus on your services, your marketing approach or even your prices. No, we’re going to start as simple as it gets: with your customers’ senses.
We’re always told to not judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to customers — and female customers in particular — looks do matter.
Start with the outside of your shop. How’s your “curb appeal”? Does your location look clean, professional and up-to-date? See that your building looks warm and welcoming or women will drive right on by. Replace run-down signage with new, friendly displays and communicate specials clearly in clean, eye-catching designs.
Moving inside, don’t forget that female customers take looks into account here, too. A comfortable waiting area is a big step in the right direction, and a spotless bathroom is the icing on the cake.
The sound I’m talking about here is your telephone etiquette. Do you have a telephone answering script that you expect employees to use, or is any mumbled greeting of your shop’s name good enough? Here’s a hint: It’s not good enough for women.z
A proper telephone greeting has four main ingredients: Thanks for calling, the name of the business, an introduction, and an offer to help. “Good morning, thanks for calling Main Street Repair, my name is Roger, how may I help you?” You’ll find this simple adjustment shifts the tone of the customer’s telephone experience and will make her much more likely to pursue a business relationship with you.
For bonus points, learn her name and use it, even on the call. For instance: “Okay, I can help you with that — could I get your name please? …Okay Nancy, let me see what I can find for you. You said you drive a 2004 Camry, right?” These little adjustments become a habit once you get into the swing of using them, and the results you’ll see may surprise you.
I’ll keep this one brief, because I think the details speak for themselves. Auto repair shops, by their nature, just don’t smell great. Taking steps to ensure your waiting area and (definitely) the restroom smell clean and neutral are as important as the looks of these areas.
Plus, don’t forget your customers’ cars. Using paper floor mat covers and spraying the vehicle with a neutral, natural odor eliminator will create a more pleasant after-repair experience.
(Word Of) Mouth
I’m not talking about taste here — I’m talking about word-of-mouth. Generally speaking, if a woman has a bad experience at a retailer, she won’t complain to the manager. She’ll complain to her friends. Bad word-of-mouth advertising can spread like wildfire, and will most definitely impact your bottom line.
Conversely, going the extra mile to make your female customers — and all customers, in fact — feel comfortable, welcome and taken care of will certainly be something they want to talk about. A satisfied female customer will pull no punches when it comes to her buying experience, and her friends will trust her advice implicitly.
Attending to the items listed here will determine whether she tells her friends to avoid you at all costs, or advises them, “Go to Roger at Main Street. He really went out of his way to help me!”
Jody DeVere is the CEO of AskPatty.com. Visit www.askpatty.com/getcertified to learn more about how to become a Certified Female Friendly Shop.