Girls Auto Clinic
Founder & CEO: Patrice Banks
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Interview By: Vicki Rae
Each of us have goals within the industry. For some, it may be to start our own business, to be the "first", or even to administer change. One thing we all have in common in the desire to move the industry forward and to create a more reputable female presence. Patrice Banks is an excellent example of just that. She is a strong woman actively educating women and pushing for a better industry for tomorrow. Here is Patrice and the Girls Auto Clinic.
What Inspired You to Start Your Business?
This is something that kind of came about by chance. I was an engineer, I went to school for engineering. I worked for DuPont, a large chemical company and I had a lot of other young professional female friends. We would get together and discuss and found that there were a lot of things that we did not know. We got to talking about cars and how we knew nothing about them.
It started out by my thought there should be a female mechanic out there that could help other women. I started looking for one, it was very few and far between of female mechanics that helped other women, so I decided to go back to school for Automotive Technology in the evening and I loved it. I wanted to teach women.
Women are thirsty for knowledge, they need this knowledge, just like me, I knew nothing 3 years ago.
I call myself the former auto Air Head, I knew nothing about cars, I would fear the mechanic, even if they were telling me the truth, I was also very skeptical, I never knew. Most of the time we are not being taken advantage of, it is just we are in a powerless situation and we automatically assume that we are.
What Do You Teach at Your Clinic?
I teach women how to take care of their cars, what’s under their hood, all the fluids they need to change, when they need to change it, what to touch and not to touch. I teach them what to do if their vehicle breaks down, for example, what to do if the power steering goes out, and what that means.
I strive to give them a lot more confidence, to feel more empowered.
What Do You Feel Drives Your Passion?
My passion comes from helping others. I have information that is useful to others and I want to share it. I try to be someone who is relatable to be able to relay this information of what is important and why. I like to explain that it is not rocket science stuff. That’s why I like to break it down and explain why things are.
What is your Goal?
My goal is to open a shop with female technicians that cater to women. I want to have a place where woman can come and to feel comfortable, to feel like they are not being taken advantage of.
My goal ultimately is to change the automotive industry. I would love to see more women in power as engineers, salesman and technicians.
Just like when I was an engineer, you do not see a lot of female engineers, which is why I did a lot of outreach to inspire young girls to be engineers. I would like to do the same for young girls and automotive technology.
What Would You Consider You Biggest success?
Girls Auto Clinic was featured on Fox 29 Good Day Morning show for a 2 hour live feature highlighting the clinic. I made a vision board for 2014 and on there was to be on the radio and to, and to write a book, which all has come true so far.
What Would Be You Message to Women in the Industry?
1. Do not be afraid, or intimidated, because chances are you will be one of the only girls. It is always good to stand out, if you are comfortable with standing out, go for it, if you are not, get comfortable, it is a confidence thing. You need to know that you can do this.
2. It’s all about having the passion and having the vision of what you want to do and sharing that with people. Once you do, it is amazing how people respond.
3. Look for support if you do not have it from family or friends, get it from you school, look for your support systems that are going to help you get to where you want to be and stay motivated
What is Your Vision of the Future of Women in Automotive?
I would like to see Women making decision in the industry, and how we market to women change. If you look at ads, many of them are heavily marketed towards men. There is no feminine touch on anything, if you go into a parts store everything seems run by males. They do not create any of those things with a female touch in mind. I would like to see marketing cater more towards women and what they like to see in regards to cars, working on cars, aftermarket parts, even when it comes to making cars and buying cars. I would like to see larger presence of female intellect having more say in how we can make things better. It’s all about diversity and having more of a say, I would love to see how it would change the industry. There’s so much more to women than being pink and girly.
What Would You Say is Your Business Advantage?
Because I was an auto Air Head just a few years ago, I take a different perspective for how I relay my information and how I look at stuff. It allows me to ask provoking questions that normally people would not ask. I know how these ladies are feeling and what they are thinking, I know what they do and don’t do, because I was there. I ask a lot of questions like do you know the purpose for coolant, or why we change our oil? I talk to them in ways they can understand. I explain filters like boogers, I equate it to having a clogged filter, as your engine having boogies and is unable to breathe. I also like to bring out used parts that they would not normally see because they are on the car and show them what worn parts look like when they need to be replaced versus new ones. A lot of these things are items I wish I had known. I also tell them that men do not know this stuff either; I talk to men all the time that know nothing about cars, don’t feel intimidated because you are a woman. When I explain it to them in a way they understand, it makes them feel good, which makes me feel good.
What is your ideal vehicle?
I don’t have one, I never grew up in cars liking cars or having one I thought was really pretty. I’ve owned Honda, Chevy’s, Fords, I have a VW right now that I really like. I’m getting into classic cars and I really want to get a truck. I want to try out every car; I have not found the car for met yet. Every car I have had, there had been something I’ve like about it. I have a VW right now and I really like it. One of my favorite cars as far as maintenance was my old Kia. It did well for me as far as performance goes, it did not cost me a lot of money to maintain. No matter what the next one will be, it will be red.
How do people sign up for your clinics?
People sign up online, they are free, I have one very month, or additional as requested, I will go to their location and give a clinic. I promote it on all the social Medias as well as my website. It helps that I’ve been on the radio and on TV.
Any Words of Advice?
If you have a passion, if you have a vision, just keep it, hold onto it, see it, dream it, and it is important to share it. People respond to that. Whatever you want to do, be passionate and work at it every day and it will come to you, I promise you it will. Be who you are, and you will be successful, good-luck.
One of our goals of this organization is to bring words of inspiration and encouragement. Patrice's story shows us that no matter your background you are capable of doing anything you put your mind to. Do not be afraid of passions because they are not typical, but to embrace them and to thrive within them.
More information about Girls Auto Clinic can be found on our Female Owned Automotive Businesses Page