Words by Loli Azuelo | #SiQadmin
When SiQ member Justine Brown from Warnambool Victoria, posed this question in LMBDW (Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine), an extremely large women's business networking group on Facebook, I'm unsure if she was expecting the constant buzz of notifications to follow:
"My husband and I (hubby’s a qualified mechanic) are just about to open a small automotive service and repair shop - this is a result of SO many people (women in particular) feeling ripped off or just don’t trust the process of getting your car serviced and maintained - and honestly we personally feel that mechanics are starting to charge ridiculous prices! We are aiming to keep our prices as low as possible, but what do you like / not like about visiting the mechanic? What would you like from your mechanic? I need some ideas as I don’t need to ever take my car to one 😂 Thanks guys 👍👍"
Over 200 women responded fast and furiously (and are continuing to comment as I type this #SiQjournal), with absolute gold information and insight.
From first-hand encounters both positive and negative to those already in the repair service centre business, changing the automotive scene for the better, here's what every mechanic should be aware of in their every day services - as told by actual women (and there is more of us that you would assume) who make the financial decisions, investing their hard earned money on the services you're about to provide on a vehicle they own.
"Someone who doesn’t automatically defer to my husband! I just want someone honest who explains what’s happening & gives a truthful evaluation of my options. I think options is key and maybe for the non mechanically minded, recommendations what you’d do if it was your car. A guarantee on the work too." - Anna B.
"A comfortable waiting room with music and somewhere to charge a phone or laptop." - Katrina W.
"A loan car that I don’t have to pay for and clear pricing on the service/parts that are about to take place before I walk out the door. I understand there needs to be a bit of a buffer regarding pricing on repairs." - Rebecca W.
"My mechanic speaks to me the exact same way he speaks to my husband. He is always honest with anything that is wrong with the car. He gives me multiple options (eg. I could get cheaper brake pads and them not last as long as the heavy duty ones essential as i have a big car). He offers guarantee on his work, any issues with the work he has done he fits me in whenever I'm free. He knows me by name and doesn't treat me like im another number" - Michaela P.
"What I LOVE about my local guys is that instead of saying it needed $3.5k of work, like other mechanics, they helped me prioritise the issues in stages so I could pay in smaller amounts. I love them forever for doing that!" - Jules B.
"A loan car that either has car seats or the ability to put car seats in, a mobile service within a certain radius from your business. Afterpay or the likes, explanations in layman’s terms. Prioritise issues, so if something can wait a few weeks so it’s not as expensive in one go. A chocolate on the dashboard upon pick up 😉
"I like to see what the mechanic has done so it makes it clearer for me too - show me the dirty air filter that was replaced or the disc pads that were worn right down 🙈Helps me understand WHY they did what they did" - Marli S.
"For me it’s all about reception/ waiting room - take a look at most of them, they’re covered in dust, grease and unidentifiable detritus. There’s excessive noise so you can’t hear yourself think let alone have a conversation with the rep about your car. Half the time the mechanics are talking and swearing loudly, and ignoring you, talking down to you, or treating you like a “Sheila”. I was at a tyre place yesterday, and they had some “questionable” items around - off colour humour about complaints department, there was a piggy bank labelled “boys beer fund”.... So my dad was a mechanic - by no means am I a snob, or a prude, but if you’re catering to females, then you need to think about your branding perception across your entire business." - Donna W.
"I work at a mechanical shop & always ensure I explain something to a client in a way they can understand. Particularly women, because I am one I guess, they need protecting because some mechanics are disgusting. So I’d say make sure you have 1000 different ways to explain something to someone who has no idea about cars or even easier take videos or photos of things that have gone wrong so they can physically see their car/parts so even if they don’t get what has happened they can see it up against something that is working properly I believe it’s a good thing for a woman to call a woman about a car related thing too because I can imagine it’s incredibly intimidating when it involves their car, expensive repairs and heaps of mechanics that don’t take that extra minute to kinda explain it further than saying that it needs to be replaced" - Marni L.
"We own a diesel workshop, but do work on cars by word of mouth. Hubby doesn’t bull shit anything, he’ll say what’s needed, what’s a priority, and what you can realistically not worry about. It’s something that women who come to the workshop love - no bs" - Tash T.
"I have an established automotive repair shop in Sydney (celebrating 10 years this year!) and we have a strong female base. I’ve also been invited to speak at the Auto Care Conference on this specific topic. These are some of my recommendations: - become an authorised restraint fitter and don’t overcharge for the installation / fitting - have a kids corner / some basic toys and boys will suffice. Parents tend to appreciate kids being semi distracted whilst chatting - be clear about pricing. Although having a set price for a service/ repair is sometimes unrealistic, be clear about it and always call the customer to get approval additional work and have a couple of price points available (genuine vs aftermarket) - once you are up and going, consider hosting women focused events around the education of basic car care / maintenance There is so much more one can go into but I hope this has helped! 💖" - Nicole K.
"I like absolute transparency. I hate the feeling that I'm being ripped off. Going above and beyond with finding second hand parts etc. The most important for me is a payment plan." - Sam A.
"I just feel like most mechanics talk down to woman, and seem generally dismissive. If I went to a mechanic and said there’s a sound coming from xyz area and it goes glug glug, I’d expect the mechanic to take a listen with me to identify said glug sound and genuinely care about solving the problem (if it’s a problem) or explaining what said sound could be without talking in over the top terminology. Also to provide an start to end service that would be expected from a service and maintenance." - Lisa R.
"Something I notice when I walk into a mechanic is that the decor / fittings / etc have a very masculine vibe. What about making the front office area more welcoming to women? At risk of sounding sexist, all the black and metal interior feels masculine to me. Maybe something more light and bright. I’m a sucker for white furniture 😬" - Maykahla A.
"It might come more from the on going attitude to customers. I love my mechanic because he always offers me the cheaper option, or a good work around as a budget option. He once did a tiny job and didn't charge, but now he has me as a customer for life. It is a feeling that i trust him." - Felicity J.
"For a woman who also knows a bit about cars (was a mechanics assistant): 1. A loan car 2. Having your services / maintenance explained to you 3. Reminders to service 4. Loyalty prices 5. Workshops to teach people (not just women) about things like changing tyres, oil coolant change etc. 6. Detailing." - Briana E.
"Use a paper mat on the floor and a cover on the seat. Remove them as car is handed back to the customer. I look for a clean tidy workshop and mechanic." - Glennis B.
"I feel like (as a young woman especially) I get spoken down to a lot when I take my car in for a service! There is nothing more infuriating than that or being called 'sweetie', 'hun' or 'love' when explaining what's wrong with the car!" - Angie H.
"I like convenience in terms of location and drop off/pick up. I want things explained in a way that’s not condescending and to feel like I can ask questions. And I expect a phone call to discuss anything extra that is found part way through the service - just general respect really! Good luck 😁" - Megan B.
"If the customer wants it, to have the mechanic actually show the customer under the hood of their car and point out what they have changed/worked on. So many people these days never look under their bonnets and wouldn’t know where anything is in their engine bay. Simple education would make me feel more confident in my car and feel less like I’ve been ripped off by the mechanic." - Amber K.
"A nice space to sit and work with a laptop and coffee would be amazing. Also - my pet peeve - asking if windscreen wipers need to be changed before doing them! I often feel that because I’m a female they just do it because I won’t know better - but they may be brand new because I know how to do it myself!" - Melissa M.
"I want a mechanic who doesn't treat me differently because I'm a woman." - Caity F.
The general consensus is women want clear communication, clean work spaces and inviting waiting areas, professional, customer-service focused staff and transparency in costs - Essentially what every business service should provide their customers.
Is there anything else we should add to this? Join our women's automotive community to continue the discussion.