The auto care industry is a male-dominated profession. But the majority of customers at repair shops are women.
Recognizing the disconnect, Patrice Banks launched Girls Auto Clinic – a Philadelphia repair shop that employs women and caters to women.
Banks, a former DuPont materials engineer, now calls herself the “chief she-canic” at Girls Auto Clinic. She founded the shop to take the stress and anxiety out of the repair experience for women, who have told her that they worry about being ripped off at male-operated service centers.
“It’s no secret most women hate their automotive buying and repair experiences because we feel misunderstood, taken advantage of and/or mistreated,” the shop’s website explains. “To make things worse, the automotive industry has not done much to ease concerns, anxiety and fear despite the fact more than half their customers are women and spend $200 billion a year on buying and repairing their cars.”
With that in mind, Girls Auto Clinic offers free monthly car-care workshops to help women boost their automotive acumen.
“We educate and empower women through their cars,” Banks says in a video for Rise Up.
Banks says she got the idea from a blog that she created. The blog surveyed women about all the tasks that they have to pay men to do for them. By far, she says, the No. 1 response was car repair.
When she Googled “female mechanic,” she found pictures of bikini-clad women draped across exotic cars.
“That’s when I decided that I’m going to learn,” she says in the video. “There’s a space here for education, for empowerment.”
Launched in January, Girls Auto Clinic offers services such as oil changes, tire rotations, fluid flush-and-fill, brake-pad replacement, transmission service and check-engine-light diagnostics. While women wait for their cars to be serviced, they can get a manicure or pedicure at the onsite Clutch Beauty Bar.
“We want women to feel like they can be themselves and just relax,” Banks says. “ … This is just kind of like a clubhouse for women. Just come and hang out.”
But her vision for the shop is much bigger than that.
“I want to reach every woman driver,” she says. “We should demand a better automotive experience.”