As some of you know, I run an auto shop in Flushing (Queens), NY. We’ve been in business since 1933.
For the record: I have not been alive that long! It’s a family business. My great-grandfather, grandpa, and dad have all run the show. That’s been my responsibility for 18 years now.
Women Auto Know was born in 2008, when the United States got struck by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The effects were catastrophic. I remember a driver saying:
“I know my tires are bald, but I can barely afford to feed my kids right now.”
Sadly, these conversations became a common event. No matter how critical or urgent a car repair might have been, drivers turned down our recommendations, because they didn’t have room in their budget.
It Sucks to Get Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
As a mom, I totally get it. Family comes first! Replacing your tires is taking care of your family (more on that in a sec) — but you’ve gotta put food on the table before you can buy new tires. Still, this was a bad situation for two reasons:
1. People were putting their loved ones at risk.
Tires are your first line of defense. The lower your tread gets, the more likely you will have a blow-out. 500 drivers die in tire-related crashes every year. Another 19,000 get injured. This is not a game. Scary!
Brakes are your saving grace. Imagine you’re driving on the Interstate. You see a pile-up in the distance. Your reaction time is crucial, and so is the condition of your brakes. If they’re in good shape, you’ll stop in the nick of time. If they’re not, you better pray your air-bags don’t malfunction.
Ignoring one problem – an urgent need for car repair and maintenance – can create a bigger problem: death and destruction at worst, or property damage at best. This doesn’t just affect you. It affects your friends, family, and anybody else riding in your passenger seat (not to mention other drivers who share the road with you!).
2. My auto shop almost went broke.
Drivers – The next time you visit an auto repair shop, look inside the garage. You’ll notice tools, lifts, scanners, and all kinds of fancy equipment.
Auto biz owners – Aren’t you sick of spending thousands of bucks on diagnostic machines? Tools aren’t cheap either. A good set runs about $15,000. Brutal!
We all know nothing lasts forever. Sometimes you have to repair or replace equipment. Drivers have to invest in maintenance to keep their vehicle running. Auto professionals have to invest in tools, machines, certifications, and continuing education to keep their business running.
The costs of operating an auto shop are huge. You can’t sustain a profit without a large and loyal group of customers.
How Women Auto Know Saved My Auto Business
People are so anxious about auto repair. I’ve heard many drivers say things like:
- “I don’t know what’s wrong, but it’s probably something terrible!”
- “I’m afraid to get an inspection. What if you find a problem I can’t afford to fix?”
- “I want to believe you, but I don’t. I’ve seen too many stories about scams and rip-offs.”
The real issue? Most people aren’t educated about their cars. A lack of understanding can lead to fear and skepticism.
It’s easy to complain when drivers don’t understand why auto repair is a big deal. I’d rather be positive and proactive. So I did! Women Auto Know launched in 2009. We kicked things off with a community workshop in NYC.
Women brought their cars to my auto shop. I led an auto awareness workshop where drivers learned about the most important aspects of owning and operating a vehicle. With support from like-minded sponsors, we hooked single moms up with free inspections, repairs, and maintenance.
Remember: my business was in dire straits. This was the equivalent of throwing a hail mary during the final play of a football game. Result? Touchdown! Seven years later, we are still hosting a workshop on the third Saturday of every month (if you’re from NY, go ahead and schedule an appointment here).
Since then, my auto shop’s revenue has quadrupled. Word-of-mouth is our biggest driver of business. Women who come to a workshop often ask: “May I come back and learn more with a friend?” I always respond: “Of course!” That’s how we built a community of loyal customers who want to talk about us. There’s no substitute.
I’m happy with my auto shop’s success and it’s been nice to make a positive impact in the lives of drivers… but I’m not content. We can do more. Women Auto Know has great potential. It’s time to think big.
We’re kicking off a 400K Challenge soon. Our mission is to help 400,000 drivers feel connected to their vehicle. What’s the point? Simple: When you care about something (like a car), you’ll put more effort into maintaining it.
We can’t achieve this audacious goal alone. We need support from repair shops, trade schools, auto professionals, automotive chain stores, and every segment of the auto industry. Click here to spread the word and let us know how you’d like to help.