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It’s not common to find women selling cars, but when auto dealerships prioritize hiring females, they increase profits and have happier customers.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: the auto industry is a male-dominated industry.
Auto dealerships are no exception. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that women only make up about 21.4% of all employees at auto dealers. These numbers, however, do not match up with other driving and purchasing trends.
For example, in an analysis conducted by Frost & Sullivan, it was found that 51% of all licensed drivers in the U.S. are women. Even more surprising? 80% of car buying decisions are influenced by women. Road & Travel Magazine believes that number is even higher; they say that women control 95% of all auto purchases.
“When buying a new car, women are practical, but they also tend to associate the purchase with aspirations of freedom and independence,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Partner and Global Director Sarwant Singh in a press release about the company’s study.
So, if more women are driving than men, and they are also playing a major role in car buying decisions, why aren’t more auto dealerships creating a more female-friendly experience?
Do auto dealership customers want women selling cars?
Women are major decision-makers when it comes to purchasing vehicles, but at the end of the day, do customers want to buy from them?
CNW Marketing Research has found:
- 39% of women would rather deal with women in the car showroom
- 10% of men would rather buy from other men
- 13% of women prefer to deal with men
- 11% of men want to deal with women
- The remaining customers are indifferent about the sales representative’s sex
An article from Wards Auto notes that women like buying cars from women — they trust them, and they speak the same language. The article also recommends, along with other industry experts, that a dealership sales force should be about 30% women; there should also be women in the finance and insurance departments as well.
Success of all-female dealership staff shows benefits of women selling cars
An auto dealership in Victoria, Texas — Victoria Auto Smart — has made headlines due to its unique, all-female staff. The dealership never intended to hire only women, but after a while, they realized that the accident was working out just fine.
“People are always surprised when they see it’s all women who work here,” said Jessica Peinkofer, sales manager, in an interview the Victoria Advocate. “We get that all the time.”
The dealership believes they are popular because they can understand their customers’ needs, and also relate to female customers. They prioritize relationship-building — asking about things such as dogs, babies, and families — to pinpoint what the customer is indeed looking for. A Great Dane and a car seat won’t both fit in a Fiat 500. The women aren’t pushy, and they realize choosing a car can be a long process.
Women selling cars = overall increase in profit
Car dealerships don’t do a great job communicating with women, and that shows in the 74% of women who say they feel misunderstood by car marketers and salespeople.
“The auto industry today is in trouble, and automakers are struggling so hard,” said Jody DeVere, president and CEO of Ask Patty, a site staffed by women car experts who advise other women on car purchases and service. “Yet they’re only doing lip service to women in terms of marketing and selling. When what they need to do is change, and create an environment where women don’t equate buying a car or getting it serviced with going to the dentist.”
There’s no way around the facts: About 95% of the 20,000 auto dealers in the U.S. belonging to the National Automobile Dealers Association are male. The customers, however, are not predominantly male.
When auto dealerships prioritize hiring women to sell cars, they may finally realize that the old “boys club” model is just that — old. The realization will come in the form of more happy customers who appreciate relationship-driven service and feel like their voices are being heard. And, in this social media age, when customers feel valued, they let everyone know — which means more profit for dealers and a better overall reputation in the community.