Vehicles have always been considered part of men’s world. However, nowadays we can see more and more women at auto repairs, be it as professionals or as clients. In the latter case, the issue is that most of the companies are not yet prepared to fully receive and meet their expectations, creating challenges for both sides.
For women, the biggest challenge is finding reliable, trustworthy suppliers who ensure an efficient communication. The evidences can be seen at a research made by Unipart Automotive, in which 75% of the interviewed women stated that they avoid auto repairs because they feel they can be deceived by the technical terms used by the professionals.
For the shops, adapting to the needs of this new public is a hard task that can lead even to cultural changes on the workplace. Nevertheless, fostering a good service to women at the car repair is a growth opportunity: this public is responsible for 58% of the car purchasing in Brazil, the largest share of the market.
How a Female Friendly Auto Repair initiative brings the women and the companies closer
It was due to this analysis that the initiative Oficina Amiga da Mulher, “Women’s friendly car repair” in English, was created on May, 2017 by Barbara Brier, an automotive technician and bachelor on Industrial Production Management with a huge expertise on the automotive field. She found in this challenging context an opportunity of bringing women and car repairs closer.
Since then, she offers trainings to the companies who are interested on optimizing their services to the female population and qualifies professionals on several topics such as equality and management. By the end of the process the approved companies are rewarded with the Oficina Amiga da Mulher Certificate, an important sign that these companies are able to offer services to women in a more efficient and respectful manner.
And for you, a professional interested on how to improve the customer service for women, we have interviewed Barbara about the Certificate and about how to ensure a quality service for the female population. Check it out!
Blog Riosulense – How did “Oficina Amiga da Mulher” began? What is its goal?
Barbara Brier – Oficina Amiga da Mulher was born from the needs of several women, who contacted me on my social medias asking for car repair references. I have been working on the field for 13 years and had begun to undertake basic mechanics trainings for women, making media projects between Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, giving trainings on Recife when all those women found me and started asking for references. At that time I was on a mentoring program and began to ask myself what could I offer to these women that would come to me asking for references and what exactly they wanted. So, my mentor told me I should create something related to it and then I said “OK, I will create a certification, a certificate, something that identifies that the shop is female-friendly”. The objective is preparing, training and helping developing the shops so that they are ready to provide respectful services to women and not only for them, but for all publics, considering the diversity aspect.
Blog Riosulense – What kind of content is shown on the training for the car repair shop employees?
Barbara – The content is all based on researches. We speak about gender equity, where we bring along the UN’s (United Nations) HeForShe program, we teach what is the cultural problem, why do we speak so much about diversity and about LGBTQ+, we make group dynamics with the professionals to foster this reflection. We also speak about the shop management, since we understand that if the team is not motivated and committed enough to follow the processes, to do the right thing, to enjoy work and to develop itself, no business will go forward. On the third module, we speak about contacting the client. We understand that the current challenge of the automotive field, since nowadays women are purchasing more cars in Brazil, is that men find it difficult to communicate with this public and show an insecure posture for them. So, we began to show them how to get an efficient communication on all points of the process in which they need to get in touch with the client. Therefore, during the training, we approach motivation management, shop management, culture, gender equity and efficient communication. In this specific module we speak about neurolinguistic programming.
Blog Riosulense – Are the employees open to this kind of dialogue?
Barbara – If they have any kind of resistance, the managers don’t even contact me. There are a few employees who are resistant due to the culture, but they open up and listen, which is very interesting. I can see these men improving, their gaze changes. When we go back to the car repair, they improved their structures and are more concerned about the internal aspects of the team and of the business. They pay more attention, and we can see the outcome throughout the whole process.
Blog Riosulense – How many car repair shops are accredited and how many people have been qualified?
Barbara – Nowadays we have 15 accredited shops and more than 150 trained employees.
Blog Riosulense – What are the biggest needs and complaints from women about auto repair shops?
Barbara – The most common complaint is about communication. “He doesn’t understand, he doesn’t speak the same language as I do, I don’t know what he’s talking about”. It is the lack of empathy with the person who does not understand and needs more information. This posture coming from the professionals make the client feel uneasy. Besides, these women don’t feel comfortable to enter a dark, messy place to ask for a service they know nothing about and that they won’t be able to discuss. They know it takes a while to learn mechanics and that cars are not part of women’s culture, so they face difficulties when dealing with all of this. So, the biggest complaint is that the professionals don’t communicate, don’t explain, they’re not transparent enough about why a determined service is needed.
Blog Riosulense – Do you see more women looking for more information about this subject?
Barbara – Mainly on the urban centers, where the women are more independent, have their own cars and a higher economic power. In those places, yes, they look for information to solve a specific problem. It’s more about need than about liking, they try to understand how the car works and do their researches to avoid being deceived, to maintain their cars and to sell them for a good price on the future.
Blog Riosulense – Aside from being certified, what can the auto repair owners do to enhance their reliability and be trustworthy for women?
Barbara – The training has a presential step, then a remote step via conf call and now we have the online training that we are constantly updating so that the professionals can get themselves and their team qualified. We teach them how to have a more reliable posture in the budget process, customer service, during the service itself, while buying parts, all to communicate reliability to the women. And all of that so that they know how to communicate and create an environment that welcomes the female population, a clean, attractive place with a woman at the front-end to understand, communicate and translate the customer’s need. This raises the auto repair reliability and trustworthiness.
Blog Riosulense – What is the shops’ feedback about the trainings?
Barbara – They are very pleased, specially the managers. During the training there’s a direct communication with the employees, to open their mind, change their mindsets so that they acknowledge their own behavior and want to change it. The feedback we receive is not only about receiving more women on the auto repair, since this is a relation-building process so that the women can get to know and appreciate our work. The feedback from the auto repair owner is about the changes on the team behavior. Besides, when they show the Certificate to that female client who went to ask for a budget “ready to smell rats”, they end up relaxing. This is the feedback they give us.
Women at car repair shops: a good customer service to win a growing public
Now it is more than clear that communication and organized environments are fundamental when it comes to women at an auto repair, right? As we just saw, the female population already has the biggest market share on car purchasing, which also reflects on the profile of the clients who go to your shop.
That’s why we advise you to follow the orientations that we just have, get to know the initiative “Oficina Amiga da Mulher” and do not lose the opportunity of expanding your possibilities. And we are willing to help you on that!