For years we've written about the growing influence of women on both sides of the tire dealership sales counter.
Women bring special talents and attitudes that build trust among female customers and improve employee morale.
Women are increasingly becoming the primary purchaser of tires and automotive service, and it's incumbent upon a tire dealer who wants to be successful to cater to the needs and desires of this customer base.
On the other side of the counter, unfortunately, the number of women involved in the tire business is disappointing. However, the numbers are slowly growing.
Our current issue highlights some of the women who own and operate tire dealerships around the country. Several inherited the businesses from their parents; others started their own businesses.
• This editorial appears in the Sept. 13, 2021, edition to Tire Business. Subscribers may download the issue here.
These women are strong leaders, given how their dealerships have thrived over the years. They also bring a woman's touch to the male-dominated aftermarket.
Research has indicated that women customers tend to prefer and trust another woman's advice on which tires and services to purchase. So Christine Croucher of Tire Lady's Rainbow Tire, for example, has staffed her counters with women.
"We put women at the front counter because they're more organized, they present well and they're concerned about putting the proper tire on the cars," she said. "And women trust our opinion."
But a woman's personality and inherent listening skills also can benefit the workplace.
Several of the women dealers we talked to mentioned how women tend to have the knack for being good listeners, so their employees come to them to talk through problems they are having on the job or at home.
"For example, when I have employees that have issues, men tend to not want to talk things out and sometimes they can let it go, sometimes they can't. I'm a woman, I like to talk," Whitney Moore, co-owner of G.L. Moore Tire Pros & Automotive, said. "So when we have any kind of little issues, I usually try to (get them to) separate, cool off. 'Let's talk about it, let's work it out.'"
"We know the mental health of our employees is first and foremost. If they're brain is not there that day, they're not going to do their job correctly, either," added Cassandra White of RNR Tire in Puyallup, Wash.
"They look to us as a sounding board outside their homes since they can't do that with each other, because men just don't do that well."
Ms. Moore said she also likes to celebrate important events in her employees' lives.
"I think typically men would say, 'Oh, that's not a big deal,' but I think they enjoy showing up and their toolboxes are decorated, or surprising everyone with a lunch or giving them the day off or something like that. I think that's a feminine approach to it," she said.
Given the fact that most employees spend more of their day at work than they do at home, it helps the mental health of employees to have a sounding board at the shop — and celebrating co-workers can boost the overall staff morale.
Women and men want to be treated equally — but let's face it, there are inherent differences between the genders. Women can bring a different, positive perspective to the daily operation of a tire business.
Julie Holmes, co-CEO of Virginia Tire & Auto, said she believes gender diversity is good for a business, "because everyone comes at problems from different viewpoints. ... I think that's why my husband and I work well together because we can look at the same problem and we can get to the same result but our paths are very different."
So as dealerships make efforts to attract female customers to their stores, they should also make an equally strong effort to hire female employees, who in turn could help them draw in female customers.