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Itching to make your dealership more profitable, but not quite sure how to improve sales? Take a look at how you’re catering to more than half of your customers.
In your auto sales career, how many times have you:
- Assumed that a woman who walked into the dealership alone was “just browsing” before coming back in with her husband?
- Referred to a car as “cute” or “great for shopping” in an attempt to appeal to a female buyer?
- Asked a woman if she needs to talk to someone else before making a decision to buy a car?
- Tried to increase your commission by convincing a female customer that she “needs” certain add-ons because you think she won’t negotiate or doesn’t know much about cars?
If you speak to a female car buyer, she will most likely tell you that at least one of these scenarios has played out when she has shopped for a car in the past. And these tactics could be impacting your dealership’s bottom line.
If you’re struggling with figuring out how to improve sales in your auto dealership, you may want to draw your attention to the female population. The fact of the matter is that according to Digital Dealer, women influence over 80% of car purchases, and over 50% of car buyers are women. Females are not just a niche market for dealerships; women are your primary customers.
How to improve sales: Learn what women want
Before you create a plan to reach and serve female customers, look inside and outside of your dealership.
Several studies share what female car buyers are looking for in a dealership. According to Kelley Blue Book, women are different than men in the following ways when it comes to buying a car:
- Women do more research and take longer to make a purchase.
- Women are more likely to prefer non-luxury sedans and SUVs.
- Safety features are more important to women than men.
- Women prioritize value, practicality, and reliability higher than men.
- Rational needs must be addressed with female customers before emotional needs are.
Women-drivers.com released a report in 2016 about women car buyers and the top 10 auto companies. The report shared survey results in which women listed their main reasons for buying—and for not buying—at dealerships that sell the ten biggest car brands.
Reasons women chose to buy from a specific dealership:
- Sales associate’s customer service (this was the #1 response for every single brand)
- Best price or deal
- Dealer’s reputation
- Best color or model selection/location and hours of service/best financing
Reasons women chose not to buy from a specific dealership:
- Still looking
- Poor price presented
- Didn’t have color or model in stock
- Didn’t like the way I was treated
- Poor trade offer
With a working knowledge of how the average woman shops for a vehicle and what she cares about, Digital Dealer also recommends conducting some internal analysis at your dealership to see where you stand and how to improve sales with female customers. It will give you a better idea of your current performance, and where you might be falling short. They recommend you track:
- Number of female guests: This applies to each woman that enters the dealership with the intention of buying a car for which she will be the registered owner. She can be visiting alone or with someone else, but the point is that she’s going to own the car.
- Number of female referrals
- Number of female sales, by week and month
- Total sales (for all sales), by week and month
- Percent of total sales to women
Once you understand what you’re working with and what kind of experience women look for, it’s time to make some changes.
How to improve sales: Three small changes
1. Focus on exceptional customer service
It’s obvious that outstanding service is a key differentiator for women and the number one reason they choose to buy, so take the time to elevate that experience.
2. Create a gender-balanced sales team
In any industry, companies with gender-balanced teams have a higher ROI. The auto industry, however, suffers from a significant lack of female employees —women only make up 21.4% of all workers at car dealerships. Prioritize balancing the scales.
3. Improve your service department
Upselling the service department is critical during the purchase process to increase revenue over the life of the car and a top way for how to improve sales with all of your customers. Women want to feel heard, like you’re honest with them and that you’ll patiently explain issues. An overnight courtesy vehicle is also the #1 request from women.
Before you start making big changes in your dealership, it’s important to keep something in mind. Find ways to appeal to more female customers without alienating your male customers—the goal is to create a new experience that benefits both sexes without favoring one over the other. The easiest way to do this? Treat every person who walks in your door like a V.I.P.