After acknowledging the behaviors that need to stop, your next step is taking proactive measures to ensure your shop is a great place for female customers and staff. Where do you start here?
According to Bogi Lateiner, owner of 180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix and host of the TV program “All Girls Garage” says your goal is making make your business a great place for everyone--women and men.
|(Photo courtesy of Chantilly Auto Body) Looking for ways to improve work life and reach out to female customers? Reach out to your female staff members who can provide valuable insights and directions.|
Lateiner has experienced first-hand the negative attitudes and experiences women face in the auto services industry. After graduating from Oberlin College with the intent to attend law school, she took a detour to Arizona to enroll in a technical college. Her interest in auto repair grew from her teenage years that she spent repairing a Volkswagen Beetle. Lateiner performed much of her own work after encountering off-putting, dismissive behavior from local shops. She went on to earn both the ASE Master Tech rating and the prestigious status of being a BMW technician but still had difficulty finding employment since shops were reluctant to hire her. Today, she’s an owner on a mission to make the industry a great place in large part by making it a great place for women.
That begins at the ground level, with shops raising their professional standards—something the industry needs to do if it has any hope of attracting sufficient numbers of workers. Lateiner says it comes down to reputation. “We can’t expect people to recommend an automotive career for their sons and daughters if they have low regard for this industry,” she says. “You aren’t to draw people if they aren’t convinced this is a terrific place to be.”
For her part, Lateiner is drawing in more women and nontraditional workers with an apprentice program that actively engages female hires (men are welcome too). Her shop also holds Under the Hood Car Care Classes designed to introduce women to the concept of basic care and handling of automotive vehicles. On the national level, she created the Chevy Montage project for SEMA where she and more than 70 women restored a ’57 Chevy truck and paired it with a BMW engine. The all-women team consists of both experts in the automotive field and newbies.
Lateiner encourages her fellow shop owners looking for new hires to similarly consider women of all experience levels who show strong interest in the work. “Attitude and interest are really the strongest predictors of whether someone is going to succeed,” she says.
Keeping an open mind on new hires is something you can do as well, along with investing in an apprentice system that puts a premium on enthusiasm and open welcomes women and men. Car care classes also are a great idea to attract female customers and potential hires. In fact, a number of other shops already host them. There are plenty of other steps you can take.