Buying a car and taking it to the auto shop for repairs and maintenance can be a nightmare for many women.
Sadly, many of them don’t get the same treatment as men, a situation that continues to frustrate females everywhere to no end. They feel misunderstood and taken advantage of, and there really isn’t much out there that they can rely on to ease their concerns.
This unfortunate truth prompted materials engineer and mechanic Patrice Banks to open up a ladies-only auto shop in Philadelphia called “Girls Auto Clinic” or GAC, for short.
Banks wanted to change the conversation around women and their vehicles, so she founded GAC in 2015. The goal is to empower females and provide them with the know-how of managing their own cars, so they can become confident “sheCANics.”
“I was afraid I was going to be taken advantage of,” Banks said. “I was tired of feeling helpless and having to go talk to a guy.”
Banks also hopes to increase the presence of women in the male-dominated automotive industry.
At 31, Banks enrolled in night classes at a technical school. She was the only woman in the class and was older than the average student by about 12 years.
She eventually quit her job as a materials engineer and started her apprenticeships in garages around Philadelphia. Finally, she gained enough knowledge and experience to open up GAC in 2015.
GAC is fully owned and operated by women, meaning it has an all-female workforce. The business offers a place where women can take care of their cars without all the stress that typically comes with it.
Each GAC mechanic’s objective is to give women the auto experience they deserve and equip them with the information they need about their cars.
“People are coming in, especially women, with that guard up. In order to get them to trust you, you have to let that guard down,” Banks explained.
“Mechanics do a lot of diagnosing from hearing, seeing, feeling and smelling. So if we can hear, see, feel and smell it, so can you. So I’m going to show you what I’m looking for, what I’m feeling for, so you can feel comfortable and you know this is what’s going on with [your] car. … It’s just about transparency and communication.”
Banks admits that she was once an “auto airhead,” someone who doesn’t know a thing about cars. But when she realized that women spend billions of dollars every year on buying and maintaining cars, she recognized that females are the most influential vehicle customer segment. So, she built a business model that supports a need in the lives of many women drivers.
GAC became more than just an auto shop for women when Banks added a beauty salon to it. Here, women can pamper themselves while they wait for their cars to be serviced.
They have the option of availing of a manicure, pedicure, and even a blow-out! The “Clutch Beauty Bar” really elevates customer experience and provides them with the kind of service that is hard to find anywhere else.
GAC is focused on educating females about cars, a mission they fulfill by providing car care memberships, videos, workshops, and a friendly Shecanic Facebook community where members can ask car-related questions and have them answered by mechanics.
Banks also wrote a book called “The Glove Box Guide” to teach women how to take care of their cars.
Kudos to Patrice Banks for shaking up the automotive industry and changing the game! Thank you for empowering women through their cars and serving as an inspiration to many.
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