The car business remains a male-dominated industry. Yet, today, more than 50 per cent of automotive-related purchases — tires, repairs and vehicle maintenance — are made by women.
For many women though, walking into a car dealership or an auto body shop is an intimidating experience, according to Jody DeVere, founder and CEO of AskPatty.com — a U.S.-based website providing automotive advice to women. And that’s why DeVere recently launched a certified female-friendly program for automotive businesses in Canada.
Essentially, the program trains dealerships, collision centres, quick-lube locations, service and repair centres, and tire dealers in how to create a more comfortable environment for women — and that primarily comes down to communication. Women and men simply communicate differently.
“One of the complaints we have from women is that they don’t feel respected,” says Patricia Muir, who is heading up the Canadian side of the program.
Muir refers to her own experience buying a car where the male salesperson spoke only to Muir’s husband.
Training is done completely online and consists of 19 modules covering topics ranging from communication, to diversity-sensitivity, to time-management, to community involvement.
Currently, there are over 100 certified auto businesses in the U.S. Muir says three major Canadian tire dealers are interested in signing up for the training. “It’s basically developing their communication skills and people skills to include what women are sensitive to and how women want to be treated,” explains Muir.
Once a business is certified as being female-friendly, it is included in AskPatty.com’s network of businesses, so women can search for a certified business close to go to on the website.
AskPatty.com was launched in the U.S. in 2006 and provides advice to women from a panel of female auto experts.