It's just a fact of life in the automotive world: Listening is essential!
One of the key things we at AskPatty.com stress when training our Certified Female Friendly clients is developing great communication skills. Too often, when a woman visits a car dealer, a tire dealership, auto service center or other automotive retail location, she is interrupted, talked over or simply not heard.
Well, I'm here to tell everyone in the auto world the same thing I tell every one of our Certified Female Friendly locations: Women speaklearn to listen!
Here are some tips on how to better deal with women customers:
1. Verbal skills
When it comes to speaking to your women customers, pay attention to the three C'sclear, concise and correct.
Don't try to wow a female patron with jargon and don't deny her an explanation because you don't think she'll understand. Women really appreciate it when you take the time to explain the whole process. Make sure your answers are correct, of coursewe don't want to be giving inaccurate explanations, after alland you'll want to explain yourself as clearly as possible while still remaining concise. If you can master the art of the three C's, you're well on your way to winning with women already.
2. Non-verbal skills improve body language
When talking to women customers, what you don't say can be just as important as what you say.
Women are storytellers. If you're helping a woman customer, listen to her as she tells you what she needs. She'll likely tell you about her entire car history, family, her kids, how many trips to school and tae-kwon-do and soccer practice she makes every week, how many snacks have spilled and how many hours she spends in her car.
These are important clues for you. This is a customer who cares about safety, reliability and easy cleaning.
While listening, signify your interest by nodding, smiling and expressing (without speaking) that you're following along. Repeat back to her the key points before you offer the solution you think she needs. This signals that you've heard every wordthat goes a long way with women.
3. Marketing and advertising that resonates with her
Just painting something pink doesn't make it female friendly.
Similarly, covering your marketing and advertising with flowers and hearts isn't going to go very far, either. Women don't care about the colors you use in your advertising; they care about honesty and reliability. Use the same 3 C's in your advertising that you use when speaking and you'll earn the trust of womenand men, too.
4. Look and feel of your store
When a woman customer arrives, curb appeal is important.
Your location should look clean and professional from the outside or she'll be nervous about coming in. Similarly, make sure your store's interior is comfortable and clean, from the waiting areas to the restrooms.
Providing a female customer with a nice placethat means with a pleasant smell and casual atmosphere in which to sit and wait, with extras like complimentary coffee, WiFi Internet and perhaps a safe play area for the kidswill speak volumes about your commitment to women.
5. Dress for success with womenwhat you wear reflects who you are
Finally, as long as you're dressing up your service shop or dealership, dress up your staff as well.
You don't have to wear uniforms (if you do, that's fine), but make sure all staff are well groomed and dressed well.
All of these key points will paint a picture for your women customers that you operate a business that takes everyone seriously. As long as you follow through and provide great work on top of adhering to these tips, you will very quickly earn the trust of the women who patronize your establishment. And that will pay dividends.
Jody DeVere, CEO of California-based AskPatty.com Certified Female Friendly, which provides online automotive maintenance advice, contributes periodic columns to Tire Business. She can be reached at 888-737-8599, ext. 6; via email at [email protected]; and Twitter: http://twitter.com/askpatty. Her com-pany's website is at www.certifiedfemalefriendly.com.