Female auto shop owners want a better experience for women | Crain's Dallas

Female auto shop owners want a better experience for women

  • An example of what the Honest-1 Auto Care will look like in Lewisville when it opens next year.

    An example of what the Honest-1 Auto Care will look like in Lewisville when it opens next year. | Courtesy of Honest-1 Auto Care

  • Construction has started at the future site of the Honest-1 Auto Care in Lewisville.

    Construction has started at the future site of the Honest-1 Auto Care in Lewisville. | Courtesy of Honest-1 Auto Care

  • The garages for Honest-1 Auto Care are kept clean so customers can walk through and learn about what's wrong with their car.

    The garages for Honest-1 Auto Care are kept clean so customers can walk through and learn about what's wrong with their car. | Courtesy of Honest-1 Auto Care

Robin Mainer just happened to be looking for a new franchise opportunity when she went to get an oil change.

The clerk at the front desk didn’t ask her any questions about what type of oil she wanted or if she was looking for other services, Mainer recalled. Just a few minutes later, a man walked in and the guy at the front desk asked about a tire rotation, among other questions.  

Mainer, who was sitting with other women in the waiting room, quickly confronted him about it.

“I asked him, ‘Why didn’t you ask us?’” Mainer said. “He said, ‘I just don’t want to have to explain everything to you.’ That went over like a lead balloon. We all got free oil changes and tire rotations.”

The next day, Mainer’s brother proposed a franchise opportunity for her and her friend Kimera Shepler. The two women had been praying hard, hoping the right franchise would come to them. Mainer’s brother suggested they have an open mind and start an Honest-1 Auto Care.  

The experience of the previous day left them inspired to not only start a female-owned repair shop but also to make it a place that’s friendly and comfortable for women.

So the two long-time insurance salespeople took a leap of faith and went for it.

Honest-1 broke ground this month and is expected to open in January on Windhaven Parkway near the Sam Rayburn Tollway in Lewisville. The exact address is 4740 Windhaven Parkway.

“The building is going to be very clean,” Mainer said. “Leather furniture. A coffee station where you can get a truly good cup of coffee. It will have a children’s play area. We have vetted the top people we can to work our service desk.”

The shop will do just about anything except body work and windows, Mainer said. The technicians will have tablets and will walk customers through any work that needs to be done. The shop will have about 12 employees and all will be ASE certified.

Most importantly, Mainer said she wants her customers to be informed but not made to feel stupid, like she did at the other shop.

“I will fire someone immediately if they make you feel stupid,” she said. “If there’s something wrong with your car, we’ll take you out and show you.”

Mainer and Shepler paid $70,000 for three franchises, so they have plans to open two more North Texas locations. Getting the zoning for an auto repair shop has been a challenge, but Mainer said she hopes the success of the first location will help their cause.

Mainer and Shepler are part of a growing trend of women deciding to go into franchise ownership, said Sara Waskow, owner and senior director of FranNet of Dallas/Fort Worth. FranNet is a consulting firm that helps people find a franchise that might work best for them.

“It does seem that more and more women are heading in the direction of business ownership,” Waskow said. “It allows a lot of flexibility with their schedule. Not being tied down to corporate hours, I think that is a key reason.”

Many women she works with want to own fast casual, healthy restaurants, for example. In her case, Waskow said owning her own business helps her run errands and get other work done so she can spend more time with her kids.

“My youngest is a senior in high school, in marching band; we have a lot of things going on in the fall,” Waskow said.

She didn’t work with Mainer and Shepler but said she admires what they are doing.

“They were attracted by the fact that it can be difficult for women to go into an automotive place to get work done on their car because they aren’t knowledgeable or they get treated differently,” Waskow said. “Having a place where a woman can go in and feel comfortable and have an intelligent conversation about their vehicle is very appealing.” 

Photos courtesy of Honest-1 Auto Care. 

September 30, 2016 - 4:02pm