When Parvinder Kaur emigrated from India in 1989, she didn't know how to put gasoline in her car.
Today she's the assistant service manager at DARCARS Toyota in Silver Spring, Md., supervising five service technicians and writing 20 to 25 repair orders a day.
"Sometimes customers don't take me seriously," says Kaur, 43. But after she proves herself, she says, "Often, before they leave, they ask, 'How did you come into this field? We never see ladies in this field.' I tell them, 'Everything is an open book. Just step into it and start learning.'"
A small but growing number of women are finding a career in the service lanes of car dealerships. The dealers who hire them say women bring a unique skill set to the service department: empathy and strong communication skills for relationship building. Those skills can help build customer loyalty and boost profits.
"She has so much repeat business," Tamara Darvish, vice president of DARCARS Automotive Group in Silver Spring, Md., says of Kaur. "Her customers will wait for her."
Adds Darvish, "That's the one thing we lack a lot on our service side: getting customers to have a personal relationship with their service advisers."