Women influence 85% of overall buying decisions in North American households, “effectively becoming the family’s chief purchasing officer,” says Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com.
Women purchase 65% of new vehicles and the same percentage of service work done at dealerships.
Yet many women aren’t particularly comfortable as consumers at dealerships.
Jennifer Libin is trying to change that. So is Lisa Copeland.
Libin is the sales director for Automotive Profit Builders, a consulting firm. Copeland is managing partner of Fiat Austin (TX) who considers herself more in the people business than the car business
“Clearly, women are the primary financial decision makers,” says Libin. “Yet many car salespeople still don’t get it.”
Here’s her list of what women want when buying a vehicle:
- Information so they can make informed decisions.
- Courteous treatment and respect for their time.
- Salespeople who are honest and take a sincere interest.
- A simple and straightforward car-buying process.
“Give women the same respect, information and treatment as any other customer seeking to purchase a vehicle,” Libin says.
Copeland has created a website, Buying CarsHerWay.com. It offers tips to women on topics such as car buying, negotiating and vehicle ownership. It includes blogs and videos. Its point is to empower women consumers.
She says she learned from “the old-way guys” what not to do as a dealership manager. She’s keen on employee satisfaction as well as customer satisfaction.
She employs a lot of women and Millennials, a mix that reflects the demographics of the store’s customer base.
Although women comprise the car-buying majority, they are in the car-selling minority. The dealership world is less of a male domain than it once was, but men still make up the majority of staffers, according to the National Automobile Assn.’s Dealership Workforce Study.
Women make up 18.5% of dealership employees, says the study. Eight percent of women were employed in key positions, 91% in office and administrative posts.
A woman holding a key dealership post is Evelyn Camilo, general manager of Germain Toyota of Naples in southern Florida.
Her store employs all sort people. “Diversity is important,” Camilo says. The store trains the staff to engage with people of different ages and ethnicities.
Part of the store’s daily 15 minutes of staff training includes how to work with customers who are different than you are.