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Fear of the fix: women and car repair

Dealing with car repairs leaves some women feeling lost, confused and frustrated. Many feel like they've been taken advantage of because they don't know much about the inner workings of a car engine. In recent years, though, there's been a move in the auto repair business to make sure women feel comfortable when they bring their car in for service.

Marketing to women has become important in any business. Consumer research company, Neilson, reports that while women account for well over half of consumer spending, they still believe they are "undervalued in the marketplace." According to Womendrivers.com, female customers account for 65% of the auto service work done in the US.

Sandy Spicer, owner of Nic's Garage in North Vancouver, BC, has been in the auto repair business for over 13 years. Nic isn't the name of one of her mechanics. "Nic's" actually stands for Non-Intimidating Car Service.

As a single parent, Spicer was on her own when it came to car repairs. "Every time I went in to get serviced, I always felt intimidated. I just really felt uncomfortable," she remembers.

women and car repair

It wasn't until she finished her degree in commerce that she drew up a business plan and fulfilled her long-time dream of operating her own garage.

Spicer believes her women customers are looking for service professionals they can communicate with. "We try to explain things in terms that they would understand, like a CV joint being similar to your wrist joint. So when the covering on the CV joint goes, it can cause damage to the joint and once you get damage to the joint, it has to be replaced."

AskPatty is an American organization dedicated to improving the auto sales and repair experience for women and offers female-friendly certification for automotive businesses. Staff at AskPatty-certified locations receive training and ongoing updates on how best to provide service for women clients. The AskPatty curriculum covers topics such as how to make their business welcoming and how to educate women about their cars.

AskPatty certification is one way to tell whether an auto shop has thought about how to make their women clients welcome. However, there are other ways to find a female-friendly repair shop. Word of mouth is generally the best place to start.