Great Bear Auto: Advocating for Women Drivers is a Priority

Oct. 18, 2019

Audra Fordin’s shop was not selected for this reader profile article because she’s a female in a predominantly male occupation. Far from it. Rather, she represents a new breed of repair shop owners and technicians who go out of their way to educate customers, specifically female customers.

Ever since taking control of the shop that her great grandfather started, Fordin has pioneered an effort to educate female vehicle owners in order to increase their comfort level by dealing with a “female friendly” repair shop.

Toward this end, she founded the “Women Auto Know” program, conducting free workshops open to female customers to learn more about both automotive maintenance and safe driving.

“Many females are intimidated when dealing with a repair shop. My goal is to educate them so that they better understand their vehicles and what’s involved in diagnosing and repairing them, which allows them to better communicate with the technician,” she told us.

As her program earned increased media attention, Fordin was approached for speaking engagements and even a few television appearances. Revenues earned for these activities have been donated to a fund to aid in the vehicle repairs for single mothers.

As a by-product of her tireless altruistic efforts, the shop’s customer base and profits have soared.

As Fordin explained, “What’s so awesome about my shop is our philosophy, the foundation and the purpose for business. We strive to be relatable to our customers, especially women, so that they feel comfortable when dealing with auto repair.” 

Does your shop offer general automotive repair or do you tend to specialize in specific makes or types of repairs?

We provide general repairs for all makes. 

What is your business philosophy?

We established a “Women Auto Know” four-part philosophy: 

1. Educate not intimidate

2. Show and tell

3. Tell not sell

4. Service not sales 

“Quite often, when a female driver is told that her vehicle needs certain repairs, they feel uncomfortable or intimidated because they don’t understand the issue or the repairs that may be needed. By educating them, they are in a position to better understand why a repair or type of maintenance is needed. By a ‘show and tell’ approach, we walk them through a hands-on inspection or repair. Seeing a part or repair up-close educates and removes the fear factor. By ‘telling not selling,’ we explain a problem and the remedy instead of simply selling them in order to increase the repair ticket. We emphasize service instead of sales. The shop will earn a fair price for parts and labor without the need to unduly pressure the customer by telling them ‘well, you need this.’”

Fordin noted that, “We strive to educate our customers, especially females, about their vehicles, in terms of how systems operate, the role that certain components play, and what’s involved in repairs. This affords us transparency with the customers, giving them the opportunity to communicate and participate in their auto maintenance service and repairs. This boosts their confidence by reducing or eliminating any apprehensions and increases their understanding of the parts and labor required for specific repairs. By educating our customers, they better understand why certain repairs are required.” 

What do customers want/expect from your shop?

Our shop is recognized for professionalism, quality of work. We make it clear that we stand behind and guarantee our work. As a result, we have developed an extremely loyal customer base. 

What is your approach to technician training?

Our technicians undergo continuous training in terms of daily hands-on experience, in-house training seminars, in addition to online practical and theory education. 

Where do you buy your parts?

We purchase parts from local suppliers including Parts Authority, Coney Island Auto Parts, AutoZone and Worldpac. 

What influences your parts buying decisions? Rank from 0 to 3, with 0 having no influence and 3 having the greatest influence. 

Price ................................ 3

Brand name recognition .. 1

Promotion in racing ...... .. 0

Perceived quality ..............3

Availability/time ...............  3

Other (describe)… We try to read/research to stay informed regarding newly available parts. 

How has ASP benefited your business?

ASP deep dives into all aspects of the repair and techniques (tips and tricks) to give factual information that helps us to communicate and share with my customers regarding how stuff works.     ■ 

About the Author

Mike Mavrigian | Editor

Mike received a BA degree from Youngstown State University in English Literature with a minor in Journalism in 1975.