Workshops have traditionally been seen as confronting environments for female customers, with stereotypes suggesting that the customer experience is focused to the male customer base

ACA Research says this doesn’t quite add up however with research conducted in 2018, which showed that females are significant decision makers when it comes to vehicle servicing, to the point that almost half of car services were commissioned by women.
Additionally, women are more likely than men to be expecting to increase their use of privately-owned vehicles. Whilst these women don’t clock up quite as many miles, they are using their vehicles more frequently than their male counterparts and positioning them very much as the main driver of the household. This clearly shows that the more businesses can get in tune with their female customer base, the more likely they are to reap the rewards.
To take this further, ACA Research reports it has looked at it from an automotive workshop perspective, stating that the 2019 AAAA Automotive Workshop Research revealed relevant insights into workshop operator’s perceptions of their female customers.
As can be seen below, all three workshop segments were found to be proactively thinking about attracting more women as customers, however increasing their satisfaction is a much higher priority. In either case, recognising their preferences, and optimising their vehicle servicing experience is key in order to attract and retain more women customers going forward.

Q. To what extent do you agree the following are goals for your business? – (% Agree)

This is all well and good, says ACA Research, but what does that mean in practice? Luckily, ACA Research says that when looking at this in tandem with consumer research it conducted in 2018, we can talk to other factors such as choice drivers, servicing costs and satisfaction across generations, to help paint a much clearer picture around what workshops can be doing to better serve their female customer base.
At an overall level, female customers are highly satisfied with their service at independent workshops, significantly more so than at car dealerships. However, when we dig a bit deeper and split out satisfaction of females by generation, independent workshops are not delivering quite as well to family groups as they are to older cohorts – this is where the focus needs to be for improvements going forward.

Q. Thinking about the last time your vehicle was serviced, on a scale of 0-10 how satisfied were you with the work done? (% 9/10).
Q. Thinking about what is important when deciding to take your vehicle for servicing, which of these are the most and least important in determining where you go?

To place this in context, there is no denying that younger demographics, particularly Millennials, are a more critical customer base, with demands and expectations higher than they once were. These customers want to feel they are getting value for their money and seamless experiences. The power of word of mouth amongst these younger groups has also amplified in recent years alongside the growth of social media platforms.
Workshops who put this front of mind in their strategies going forward are likely to be those who win new, but also loyal business. So what are the most important factors of choice for females? How can you win more of them and retain those you already have?
Female customers who service their vehicles at independent workshops are placing greater value on trust in the workshop. We should have a think about what ‘trust’ really means for the female customer base, however. Everyone wants to have trust, but females often look for a trust which constitutes safety, reliability, good customer service and honesty, but also a sincere and genuine “relationship.” It is these factors which will act as a catalyst for positive word of mouth, repeat customers and new customers.
Again though, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and there is an increasing need to recognise the wants and needs of female customers across the life stage. What trust means to Empty Nesters is what workshop skill means to SINK/DINKs, and again we see a greater emphasis on cost for younger family groups. Having this knowledge as part of your toolbox, tailoring your choice of language, and ultimately optimising the female customer experience at a generational level will help to create both a more inviting, and lucrative, workshop business.
In summary, women are invested in their vehicles and they are savvy about how they want to service them. From the research, we can see that female customers are choosing to service their cars at independent workshops, with usage increasing further amongst females with young families.

With these life stage changes bringing substantial cost pressures, and challenges, workshops need to recognise the importance of tailoring their service offer and marketing to females overall, but also across the generational differences of the female customer base.

This column was prepared for AAA Magazine by ACA Research, our partners in the AAAA Aftermarket Dashboard which is delivered to your inbox each quarter.
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