It is worth asking yourself how your marketing material and your service counter interactions are seen through the lens and experience of gender.
Why? Because a lot of shops do a great job of presenting themselves to men, but don’t score as highly with women.
This is a real problem. Generally speaking, women are the chief purchasing officers in their households. They either do all the shopping themselves (including for vehicle maintenance), or they influence the purchasing decision. Not only do they hold a veto on spending, but they’re your number one referral source.
If you aren’t taking female perceptions into account, you could be failing to impress a critically important customer base.
If you want a chief purchasing officer to choose your shop, you must start with the recognition that she doesn’t need you. It is, in fact, you that needs her. To earn her business, you may have to turn your male-oriented service practices on their head.
Here are five ways to do that.
Understand the female consumer
Take an afternoon with your staff to create the profile of a typical female customer. Make sure you have female input as you attempt to gain a greater understanding of what the chief purchasing officer wants, expects, and demands. Start with the assumption that they want to be understood first as a woman and second as a consumer.
Create real relationships
Building a trust account with your female consumer base is extremely important because that’s where a lot of your referrals are going to come from. One of the best ways to do this is to get to know them in a comfortable, natural way. Women can tell when efforts to create a relationship aren’t genuine. Forced interest or insincerity is a real turn-off to a woman, so use your active listening skills, compassion, and empathy skills to make a connection.
Make it personal
Use captured information in a meaningful way to personalize their experience. For example, if she talks about her son, Johnny, who is going to play in a soccer tournament, make a note of that. And the next time she visits, make sure to ask her how Johnny’s soccer tournament went. Or ask how she takes her coffee, and then surprise her the next time she comes in by not having to ask. These may feel like little tricks, but when they become habitual and natural, you’ll see they are just pleasant ways of interacting with your customers.
Create a female-friendly atmosphere
Is the music you play appropriate? What about the selection of magazines? Are your bathrooms clean? Is your furniture inviting? Is the waiting area warm enough in the winter time? Cool enough in the summer time?
There are many ways to create a female-friendly environment. The trick is to look at your facility through her eyes. Tailoring the atmosphere for the female consumer will make her feel comfortable, and increase her trust in your brand.
Train for success
If one of your team members has a particularly high emotional quotient (EQ), they will be able to execute these tips naturally, creating real connections. Those with high EQs can read non-verbal cues and can adjust their approach based on the needs of individual consumers. Some of those skills can be learned. Focus your counter training on EQ, and then layer in IQ as you go. When you blend EQ and IQ together, you will receive complete engagement from your female consumer.
One of the reasons women walk out of service shops is because they don’t like the way they were approached or treated. Create an experience that will bridge the gap, and impress your female customers – the chief purchasing officers – that you need to connect with in order to be truly successful.
Katie Mares is a certified speaking professional, business consultant, and a partner in the business training company, Alkamey Group.