Hey guys, escape the wife a minute and come on down for a free car inspection.
A similar ad may pull in a few customers for an automotive repair shop, but it's also likely to turn off even more-namely, female customers, who can make up a significant chunk of change for shops, the Car Care Council says.
As the Bethesda-based council gears up for its first year with National Car Care Month in April instead of October, it is highlighting marketing efforts aimed at attracting female motorists. Council spokeswoman Susan Jones said women make up as much as 50 to 80 percent of service providers' customers.
``They're the folks making the decisions, so doesn't it make sense to attract those people or at least not exclude them?'' she asked.
As part of the council's ``Be Car Care Aware'' campaign, it is working with the Girl Scouts of the United States of America to form a merit badge program in auto maintenance. The group also is heightening its marketing efforts with women's magazines.
Cathy Reichow, co-owner of Dan R's Automotive Inc. in Oregon, Ohio, one fall held a special event for five Girl Scouts troops in the area to help them earn car maintenance merit badges. Tasks to be mastered included checking fluids, preparing an emergency kit and changing flat tires.
``It allowed me to gain some customers,'' Ms. Reichow said. ``Some of the mothers brought their vehicles in for repair.''
Whether it's for National Car Care Month or just every day business, Ms. Jones of the Car Care Council said repair shops should be aware of how they're perceived by women. Most importantly, she said, shops need to tailor their marketing to be non-gender specific. That includes not only appeals to men but also gratuitous use of sex appeal to sell tires or a brake job.
``If you're talking to your customer base, remember your customer base is 50 to 80 percent women,'' she said.
She added that once women are in a shop, technicians and counter staff should be careful not to talk down to them. Other minor things will go a long way with women, Ms. Jones said. For example, a play area for kids or accommodating schedules can be helpful.
``Even if they're not working mothers, they are working mothers,'' Ms. Jones said.
Terry Steenholdt, owner of T.D.S. Auto Repair Inc. in Sioux Falls, S. D., said clean bathrooms can be one of the biggest assets for his store when it comes to keeping female customers.
``Keep it clean,'' he advised. ``They walk in, they don't want to get dirty, and they shouldn't have to.''
Ms. Reichow said more than 50 percent of her customers are women. She also has a devotion to clean bathrooms and a trained staff. Even in the case of couples, she said her shop, which also sells used cars, tries to be mindful of its effect on a woman.
``Really, the wife has 99-percent veto power,'' she said. ``You have to focus on getting her approval and what she wants or needs because ultimately she will be the yay- or nay-sayer.