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Women Call the Shots on Buying and Maintaining the Family Car

Women are not only becoming more influential in deciding what car to buy, they are also taking over the traditionally male dominated responsibility of maintenance and repair, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) reports.

Currently more than 65 percent of customers who take their vehicles to a repair shop for service and repair are women. Some repair industry experts estimate that the average may actually be closer to 80 percent.

"More and more women are deciding where to take their car, minivan, light truck or sport utility for service and repair," says Ronald H. Weiner, ASE president. "As this trend continues, females will represent the majority of customers with whom technicians and service managers must communicate."

Ford's marketing department reports that women influence 80% of all purchases.

Women are purchasing more cars than ever before. According to most surveys, over half of all used vehicle purchases are by women. In certain age and vehicle categories, females represent more than 50% of current buyers of new cars.

And here's what leading female automotive experts have to say about this trend:

"Female customers don't need or want to be treated differently...We just want respect," comments Lyn St. James, famed Indy car driver and a Car Care Council Board Member. "Repair businesses that respond to women's needs and expectations by providing clean waiting rooms, timely delivery, and repair orders that are easy to understand are making smart business decisions."

"There is a growing appreciation of female customers. Technicians report that females ask more questions, inquire about details, and are more willing to look under the hood, or check out parts," says Diane Hohman, an automotive aftermarket consultant in Herndon, VA. "Efforts to address the needs of female customers are evident in the marketplace. From conducting women's car care clinics to hiring female service writers and technicians, repair businesses are taking steps to welcome female customers."

Donna Wagner, Director of Operations for the Car Care Council, Port Clinton, Ohio, believes that the presence of female professionals in repair shops may help create a more user friendly environment for female customers. "Many women feel less intimated when interacting with female service advisors and technicians. A greater comfort level can turn the whole repair experience into a more positive one."

While the total number of women in the repair profession is small, the rate of increase over the last few years is noteworthy. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of female technicians grew from 9,000 in 1994 to 11,000 in 1996 a 22 percent increase, while the number of male technicians increased by only 3 percent during the same period.

"It's inevitable; just as we see more women in the showroom and at the service desk, we will see more women behind the service and parts counter talking to customers, and under the hood diagnosing and repairing automobiles," predicts ASE president, Ron Weiner. "Challenging careers as automotive service professionals are not gender-specific. Servicing and repairing today's vehicle requires more brainpower than brawn."