-by Sally Whitesell for AutoSuccess Service Magazine

You know from Part 1 that women are crucial to your business. So are you making women a top priority?

If you meet the expectations of women you will exceed the expectations of everyone.Please keep this in mind as we focus on the importance of your waiting room and amenities. You may not be aware of how important this area is to your female clients, because most men don’t have as many preferences about their surroundings. Women, in general, are much more particular about the look and feel of their environment, and will notice immediately if you care enough about her business to make her preferences a priority.

In order to prove this point, look no further than your local mall. Notice the differences in the stores that are designed to cater to women verses men. Have you ever noticed how many more stores are geared towards women? This is because we influence over 85% of all purchasing decisions and are the number one consumers. The retail environment has realized the importance of female shoppers. Women’s stores usually have more color, better displays, lighting, smells and even music. Men’s stores are often more like warehouses. In fact, one of the largest retailers for men’s clothing actually has “warehouse” in its name.

Of course men enjoy nice surroundings and amenities, but it isn’t a make-it-or-break-it factor. For women it is! 

In order for you to see your everyday surroundings through a new set of eyes, I am going to share a female perspective. Use the following as a checklist so you can create an exceptional environment for an exceptional service experience.

Create a warm inviting area.

Set up conversation areas, workstations with charging stations and easy WiFi access, and a separate TV viewing area. Consider using plants, warm tones on the walls and pictures of families enjoying their cars. Limit brochures and advertisements. If your advisors have done their job, your guests should already be well informed.

Don’t forget the kids.

Nothing will ruin the environment for ALL of your guests more quickly than a bored child. Have a play area with clean toys, games and books. Keep children’s movies or TV channels playing in this room. All restrooms should have a changing station. Both men and women bring infants into your store. It is common courtesy to make it easy to tend to their children. Nobody wants to see (or smell) a parent changing a diaper in the waiting room.

Make sure your restrooms are clean and updated.

Speaking of restrooms, I’ve heard women say they will not go back to a business because the owners of the establishment didn’t care enough to provide a nice restroom. I have never heard a man say this. Women obviously spend more time in a restroom touching up make-up and hair, making private phone calls, and tending to children. It doesn’t take a lot of investment to be sure your restroom is clean and well stocked.

Provide snacks, water, teas, coffees and juice boxes.

Everyone loves a snack! But women will not only notice whether or not you have snacks, but how you display them. The days of a stained coffee pot next to a box of donuts are over. Use baskets and trays to offer a variety of choices. They don’t have to be gourmet products, just visually appealing.

Keep your TV on a neutral station.

Let’s face it, most of the time the news is bad and not everyone likes sports. I have seen arguments break out in waiting rooms because of the topics being discussed on TV. A neutral channel like HGTV, DYI, the Food Network, or the Travel Channel will keep the mood light. I work with a dealer that plays movies that are PG. He has had customers wait for the movie to end before checking out and picking up their car. They also served popcorn to round out the experience.

Turn your parts department into a boutique.

Your waiters are a captive audience, yet many of us don’t take advantage of this opportunity. Consider hiring a professional to create appealing displays for your parts and accessories. Maybe you have someone on staff that has worked in retail and has a flair for creating appealing displays. Consider adding non-automotive items to draw shoppers in. Have you seen some of the boutiques in highline stores? I can buy a designer purse and a scented candle while having my car serviced. Now that is an excellent experience!

Put someone in charge.

Even the nicest waiting areas can be a mess by mid-morning. Assign the duties of straightening up, replenishing snacks, checking the playroom and restrooms to someone responsible. Maintaining these areas is as important as creating them.

These simple steps will make your female clients feel much more comfortable and appreciated. Often we don’t think about investing in our waiting rooms because we can’t see an immediate financial return. Taking these steps will save thousands in customer acquisition costs, because a happy female client will not only be loyal, she will advertise for you as she tells all of her friends and family. Don’t forget, she is also 3 times more likely to fill out your surveys. That alone makes it all worth the effort.

Sally Whitesell is President of sw Service Solutions, which offers in-store training nationwide and Fixed Ops University; engaging online training for managers and service advisors. Sally brings over 21 years of on-the-drive experience to her training, seminars and books, which include her highly sought after “What Drives Women?” program and her book, “Words That Sell Service.

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