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Women Empowered and Informed at New Innovative Auto Shop

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When customers walk into Honest-1 Auto Care, they often wonder if they are in the right store, franchise co-owner Robin Mainer said. The female-friendly business is breaking stereotypes that much.

“You walk in and there is leather seating, a data bar to hook in and charge electronics, a children’s play area, gourmet coffee, free drinks and snacks, and a fireplace,” Mainer said of the lobby people wait in while their vehicle is serviced. “More than once someone has walked in and said, ‘what do you all do here?’ It makes us laugh and feel very good.” Another amenity often commented upon? The squeaky-clean restrooms available to customers.

The auto shop works on brakes, air conditioning, alignment, tires, and other automotive services. A regular oil change costs $19.99, and the business was recently approved to give inspections, as well. Honest-1’s priority is to be transparent with customers and make sure they truly understand what is being done to their car and why. They believe this is especially important to women, who often report feeling taken advantage of or disregarded at other auto shops.

Honest-1 Auto Care

Photo: Courtesy of Honest-1 Auto Care

Mainer and business partner/longtime friend Kimera Shepler both have past careers in the health insurance industry. “With the changes that came about, it was just time for us to get out of it,” Mainer said. “So in 2014, we got out.”

Mainer and Shepler said they asked God what they should do next, and they requested the answer be specific, if possible. The idea to open an auto shop that served – and empowered – women was presented to them three times in a few days.

First, Shepler went to her financial analyst, who suggested she open a female-friendly oil change business. “When Kimera told me that, I said ‘you need a new financial analyst,’” Mainer said with a laugh. But shortly after, Mainer went to get her own car oil changed and realized there might be something to the idea.

Honest-1 Auto Care

Photo: Courtesy of Honest-1 Auto Care

“The man (in the auto shop) said, ‘Sign here and go sit down.’” Mainer said. “Then a gentlemen walked in, and also said he needed to get an oil change, and he was asked what kind of oil he wanted, if he needed a tire rotation, and more.”

Mainer looked around at the other two women waiting in the auto shop and asked them if they had been offered the additional services. They all said no, so she approached the service man and asked him why he’d simply told her to sign and sit. “He literally said, to my face, ‘Well, I don’t want to have to explain it all to you.’” Mainer recollected.

The three women in the shop voiced their opinions about his statement and the disrespect of it all, and then received free tire rotations and oil changes. “The next morning, my brother called and said he wanted to talk to me and Kimera,” Mainer said. “It was about Honest-1, he said it was a female friendly auto repair place and he thought it might be something we’d be interested in.”

Honest-1 Auto Care

Photo: Courtesy of Honest-1 Auto Care

Mainer’s brother was in the auto industry, and Shepler also had family that had been in the industry for some time. “We heard the idea from three people in a matter of days,” Mainer said. “It was just a concept we felt was an ‘ah hah’ moment. It made sense, with all our marketing experience with the insurance we’d sold.”

Mainer and Shepler’s Honest-1 shop, at 4740 Windhaven Parkway, Lewisville, Texas has been open about a month. They plan to open two more franchises over the next two years to own a total of three auto shops. Honest-1 has about 60 shop locations total.

The shop also has a “virtual vehicle” inside so customers can be shown what their car is supposed to look like when functioning properly. “I think people are pleasantly surprised by all the upfrontness,” Mainer said. “We’re here to help, here to help educate and tell you what you need and explain why you need it. I think if someone had explained to me why I needed to do one thing as opposed to another, I would have taken better care of my car. If you want to be respected and not be bullied you come here. We want to treat our customers the way we want to be treated.”