We recently had the incredible honor of spending some quality time with the astonishingly inspiring team at Girls Auto Clinic as well as their Founder and CEO, Patrice Banks, in Upper Darby, PA, and there’s no other way to say it – this amazing organization and their altruistic mission absolutely blew us away. Girls Auto Clinic is a female-focused automotive repair company that aims to tip back the scales of gender inequality in the auto repair and maintenance industry. Patrice Banks and her team let us in on exactly how their dream took shape, and we couldn’t help but feel compelled to share their journey with you.
McCann Team: Hello Patrice, can you start by telling us about your role here?
Patrice: I am the CEO and Founder of Girls Auto Clinic.
McCann Team: Great. Can you tell me about how Girls Auto Clinic came to exist? What was your inspiration?
Patrice: I came up with the idea for Girls Auto Clinic when I was working as an engineer at DuPont, because one day, I started searching for female automotive technicians and couldn’t find a single one. My car was always something I had a negative relationship with; I didn’t know how to take care of it, and I constantly felt that I was being taken advantage of. I was tired of feeling powerless and uneducated every time something went wrong! I started looking for female mechanics in my area and saw that there was such a huge shortage despite the amount of female drivers and spenders in the automotive market. When I realized how large the gap really was in how the industry catered to the majority of its customers, I knew there was something I could and needed to do to close that gap and empower women through their vehicles.
I started taking night classes in automotive technology after work, and after 2 years I got my Bachelor’s in Automotive Technology. From there, I started hosting free car care workshops to teach women basic maintenance of their car to start to change the dynamic. I held these workshops for 3 years before opening the repair center, and that definitely helped me build a huge following before even opening the shop.
We are still continuing to grow, and we want to be able to offer our Car Care Workshops and have repair centers in multiple locations. I have also written a book called The Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide which will be released in September, and I hope to use this to reach every woman driver in America. It is full of straightforward tips and ways to care for your car.
McCann Team: What services do you provide?
Patrice: We provide full service auto repair and PA State Safety and Emissions Testing, and while you wait, you can get manicures, pedicures, and blowouts at the Clutch Beauty Bar. We also have a range of educational and empowerment resources under our #sheCANic brand. We still hold our monthly free Car Care Workshop that will soon be accompanied with the Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide, and we also run a blog full of tips and maintenance how-tos and keep up with our very active #sheCANic facebook community. The community is a closed Facebook group for women to ask their car-related questions and have them answered by female techs from all over the country.
McCann Team: What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Patrice: I get to educate and empower others. It’s a great feeling to be able to share your gift to change someone’s life for the better.
McCann Team: How does Girls Auto Clinic operate?
Patrice: Right now, we have our shop forewoman, Susan, as well as two full time technicians, Val and Emily, in the garage. We also have one service writer, Colleen, who is the main point of customer contact; she looks up quotes and gathers all the information from the customer. Together all of these amazing women also contribute their years of knowledge during our free Car Care Workshops. Girls Auto Clinic additionally has some part time help from some mentors and friends I have met along the way, Edwin and Roger, and we also have an apprentice, Anthony. On the salon side, Sam is our manager alongside two technicians, Alisa and Maggie, but we are always looking for new talent in the hair and nail industries. I also have a Spirit Director, Mya, who is responsible for customer experience, and a Personal Assistant, Stephanie.
McCann Team: Do you have any particular success stories that you would like to share?
Patrice: My life is a success story. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you have experienced – if you dream it, you can achieve it.
McCann Team: What is the best part of being a Philly-based business?
Patrice: Philly is an accessible city where you can stand out and make moves, so it is a great place to start a new business. There is a diverse group of residents, ideas, needs, and challenges to be met.
McCann Team: Do you do any charitable work?
Patrice: We hold a free car care workshop every month to make automotive education available to everyone.
McCann Team: What about your future plans?
Patrice: I want to reach every woman driver! I plan on changing the face of the automotive industry and becoming a national brand.
There you have it: an amazing vision created and supported by an incredible group of women, taking the auto world by storm! Head on over to Girls Auto Clinic and take advantage their wide range of services and support their inspiring mission for female empowerment.