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How to Build a Woman-Friendly Dealership: A Key Ingredient When Selling to Women
Sherond Glover, founder and CEO of Car-Buy-Her

With women influencing 80% of buying decisions, purchasing 50% of new cars and 48% of used cars it’s no wonder that the automotive industry is taking notice. Manufacturers are reaching out to the fastest growing automotive market with initiatives aimed at attracting the attention of the female shopper by bringing in women engineers, re-working their models and establishing programs designed to understand and accommodate the needs of women.

The fact that automotive manufacturers are acknowledging and responding to women as important consumers is a good start; however, to understand the totality of the female automotive consumer, the manufacturer and more importantly the dealer must look further than just what the woman wants in her car. They must also look at what she wants in her car buying experience. How a woman is treated before and during her purchase is still a relevant concern that too few dealers have addressed; and what constitutes remarkable customer service when it comes to a women’s experience at the dealership is often overlooked. A positive customer service experience is a key ingredient when it comes to marketing and selling to women. Women don’t want to be talked down to or made to feel incapable when they walk into a dealership. Today a large majority of women still feel uncomfortable and intimidated by the process of shopping for a car. Dealerships with models that alleviate “the haggle” are becoming more and more popular for women. Even so, until the problem is thoroughly addressed by the industry as a whole, dealerships that maintain a deaf ear and turn away from the problem will begin to see significant shifts in their profits, as women begin to grab hold of their true buying power and flock to locations where they feel valued and heard. How can dealerships begin shifting gears in a new direction, make significant changes and build a woman friendly dealership? Develop a diversity program that includes the recruitment of and acceptance of female personnel. Dealerships are still mostly owned and operated by men. Until the industry employs a comprehensive recruitment program that includes balancing the employment work force, the industry will continue to lag behind. By the same token, the industry must accept women into the business, whether that’s in management or on the showroom floor. Incorporate a sales and customer service training program for personnel. Educating the sales and services staff on how to work with and sell to women is vitally important. Sales staff that are used to working directly with men may be taken off guard as they begin seeing more and more women showing up on their lots. But times are changing and staff should be trained on how to work effectively with women. Enhance the dealership environment –. Managers should take a look around their showrooms to see what can be incorporated to make the buying experience more desirable for women. Become an educational institution – Dealerships must understand the value of educating the consumer. If a dealership becomes a base for education----- providing information and resources ------- women will experience more of a connectedness to that brand and that dealer. Incorporate marketing programs that reach out to women not just programs that include women - Adding woman to your advertising efforts is not the same as marketing effectively to women. Learn to market to women by first understanding her, who she is and what she needs and values, and then speaking to her from her point of view, hitting points that are relevant to her. Build relationships for better sales – Instead of making selling your number one priority, make building relationships, understanding and getting to know the consumer your highest priority. Don’t be afraid to evaluate how you’re doing – Dealerships should not be afraid to evaluate their internal operations or be willing to admit changes may be necessary. To understand how well you’re doing, dealers should speak directly to their female customers, talk to them, create focus groups, and learn where they’re shining and where they might be failing. What Car-Buy-Her does: Educates female consumers on car buying and maintenance; works with dealerships to help them become more woman friendly; and connects dealers with female consumers to enhance buyer/seller relationships. Have comments? Email the author at sheronde@car-buy-her.com.