Women of Maaco Turn Front Lines into Opportunity to Build Customer Trust
March 04, 2022 // Franchising.com // CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On International Women’s Day, Maaco is celebrating the women that work as technicians, painters, detailers, estimators, customer service representatives and store managers on the front lines every day, helping customers manage their vehicle painting and collision repair experience.
Two Maaco store managers and estimators were featured on the Femcanic Garage Podcast to share their leadership, experience and dynamic perspective. Host Jayme Blaisman regularly profiles women from all walks of life who work in the automotive industry to inspire others to step up to the challenge.
Ivette Delgado is the office manager and lead estimator at Maaco Swedesboro in New Jersey. She worked in real estate property management for 20 years before joining Maaco 10 years ago in Texas. She was the manager at two locations in Texas before moving to New Jersey.
“When I started with Maaco, I had no experience in the automotive industry,” said Delgado. “I didn’t know the difference between a bumper and a bumper car. I was always a good manager so I only had to learn a new industry. I went through Maaco’s training program, started as an estimator and 30 days later I was the manager of my location. Today, I’m the office manager for one location and the lead estimator for another."
Delgado, who grew up in Puerto Rico, said her native accent was a challenge that she worked to turn into an asset, just like being a woman in a predominantly male industry.
“You can’t be afraid to tackle a new challenge or overcome barriers,” she noted. “It’s okay to not know something, it’s not okay to let that stop you. There are a lot of women who come to a shop and will connect with a woman working there. I can talk with almost anyone in their language. Some customers may be put off initially by my accent or by me being a woman, but once I show them I know what I’m doing, they are fine. I tell them `I’ll take care of your baby. I’m a mother and I understand what your baby means to you’. This helps re-assure them they are in good hands.”
The customer satisfaction that comes with providing great results is what motivates Delgado.
“The customer satisfaction excites me the most,” said Delgado. “I love to educate the customers. The best part is serving a community and helping to change people’s lives by taking care of them and their cars.”
For Kim Nigara, an estimator at Maaco Riviera Beach in Florida, a career in the automotive industry started with Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels.
“I grew up playing with cars and watching my father work on them,” said Nigara. “When it came time to find a career, I secured a job at a Ford dealership in the parts department and went to work. I spent eight years there learning parts management, then went to work at several different body repair facilities before I found the opportunity at a brand new Maaco location that had yet to open.
"I was the first person interviewed and I got the job,” noted Nigara. “From there, I learned to do vehicle intakes, write estimates and manage the repair process. After two years, the previous owners transferred me to their second location, where I still work today. Over the past year we have undergone a lot of change, including new ownership. I couldn’t be happier with what we have to offer customers who come in our location. The sky is the limit if you don’t allow anyone to set limits for you.”
While occasionally Nigara encounters a customer who is looking for the “guy in charge,” she quickly reassures them and proves her mettle.
“I’m there to educate them on the process,” she said. “I believe in giving people all the necessary information so they can make the proper decision as well as provide a great service while doing so. I like to see the repair process from start to finish. Customers don’t want to be here, whether it’s a typical accident or freshening their car. It’s so awesome to see the process and their reaction when they get their vehicle back and it looks great.”
Nigara does make an extra effort to comfort customers in a stressful situation.
I’ve had women come in crying because they’ve gotten really high estimates or bad service and I try to provide them solutions to save them money. I feel like with any customer, you treat them better and honestly try to help them out. People come back and say, 'Thank you’ for that level of service. You just give your best - to the customer and to your team - and at the end of the day you always know you’ve done your best.”
Delgado and Nigara have both earned their positions leading their respective Maaco facilities and also as role models for the vehicle repair and repainting industry. Their keys to success boil down to one point - do your best to take care of the customer and everything else will take care of itself.
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