Women opening hood on car while trainees watch

Mentors Inspire and Train Newcomers in Automotive Repair

For the automotive repair industry to cure its tech shortage – or just keep pace – the secret is simple. Bring in more people who may not have felt welcome before.

This includes women, who may not think of jobs in auto shops when they start planning their career paths. In fact, about one in 20 auto repair techs in the U.S. are women. Women in Auto Care hope to boost that number through their actions, including its annual conference from March 23 to 25.

To mark International Women’s Day, we look at the value women bring to automotive repair and how to invite even more.

On average, women earn 97 cents for every dollar their male coworkers do. In addition to the risks every worker faces, women often deal with pay inequity, teasing, being overlooked and their skills going underused. All this makes it more stressful for them to go into the shop every day – unless more shops become more friendly.

Enter MentorCity

The University of Washington has begun a clinical trial to stop women to stop women from leaving apprenticeship programs. The possible cure they are studying is one shops have used for years: mentors.

Meanwhile, Women in Auto Care has taken the same approach. Its free mentor program offers motivation, support, encouragement and validation to help more people succeed. The program uses innovative digital tools to provide a structured framework for its mentoring relationships.

In 2021, the program teamed up with MentorCity. Together, they engage a robust platform to match up mentors and mentees based on personal goals so their rapport lasts.

Everyone in automotive repair wins

According to Auto Success Online, mentoring leads to the entire auto repair industry getting stronger.

  • Workers develop better skills that serve clients better. They also learn more than they pick up at school or from reading manuals.
  • As they evolve, their mentor can ramp up their skill sets, so good employees become even better.
  • Setting a series of small goals builds work satisfaction; building larger goals builds morale.
  • Workers feel more valued and stay loyal to your shop. Therefore, you have less turnover. This saves money over time as you invest less in recruiting new talent.

Mentors also report that they grow and learn, becoming more attached to the business and its future. They also pick up new skills or adapt when answering “Why we do things the way we do?” That applies to adopting new tech, such as texting, social media marketing and EVS.

Three women standing around a car with its hood open

Having women in a shop, from the front counter to the bays, sends a message to customers as well. Some women prefer to talk to people like them, especially as they have more sway over buying and maintaining their cars.

All of this leads to life-long learning, which our industry needs as the market and its products evolve. It helps shops stay nimble and focused on what customers need now.

Don’t forget, women are generally smaller and can get into hard-to-reach places that men may not access easily. Think of those awkward spaces behind the dashboard. Rather than pull off the dash, a narrow arm could save time and money. In the end, it’s all about solving problems.

Open the door to new talent

Every person working in auto repair right now can welcome and help retain more women in the field.

Men play a key role in supporting women at work, says Kathleen Long, Vice-President and General Manager of Growth at RepairPal . She shares these tips:

  • Let women speak without interrupting before you offer advice.

  • Invite and support women’s opinions during meetings.

  • Speak up when you see someone being treated unfairly.

  • Praise women’s work in front of other techs.

  • Advocate for women when new jobs open up.

Meanwhile, these two shop owners have taken matters into their own hands to mentor women in their female-focused garages.

At Girl Gang Garage in Phoenix, Bogi Lateiner and Shawnda Williams train women of all ages in car know-how. They also invite for women in the trades to work together, meet up, share their skills, and challenge their skills. Yes, it’s mentoring on a whole other level.

Next, they celebrate and share stories through social media and outreach in hopes that more women will join in.

In Philadelphia, Patrice Banks has made it her mission to change the way women enter the auto repair industry. First, she went back to school in her 30s to learn how to fix cars. Then, she opened Girl Auto Clinic , a full-service auto repair center focused on SheCanics.

Its repair process, powered by Shop-Ware, aims to ease the anxiety the average woman feels about getting their car fixed.

“I deserve to be here and I hope to inspire other women and girls to feel the same. That’s how I’m leaving my mark on the automotive industry,” Patricia says.

* Images courtesy of Girls Auto Clinic and Girl Gang Garage

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