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INTRODUCTION

The statistics about the importance of women as a consumer are very familiar to all of us. Women account for 85% of all purchases which includes everything from homes to groceries and control TRILLIONS of dollars of wealth in this country. For those of us in the Automotive Industry, we know how vital the women consumers are to all of us; after all, they represent over 65% of our business. The challenge for all of us is how to make our place of business a comfortable place for women to patronize and purchase our products and services.

It goes without saying that the place where business is conducted must be inviting to both the women and men who come through our doors AND  it must also reflect the marketplace in which we do business. Having said that, many of us do not know how or where to find the women we need to hire.

GET THE WORD OUT

Based on my experience here are some suggestions:

Create awareness that your place of business is hiring women and what career opportunities it has to offer.

· Visit schools and colleges and participate in career days

· Offer intern programs which will help identify and attract talented people

· Offer scholarships in the name of your business

· Join local women’ organizations

· Invite women’s organizations to hold their meetings in your place of business

· Support women’s events in your local community

· Advertise in women’s magazines or trade publications

· Offer incentives to your own employee for referrals

· Speak at the local Chamber of Commerce to get the word out that you are looking for female employees

· Most real estate agents are women so connecting with the local Real Estate business is another resource for hiring women

The importance of word of mouth in addition to formalized advertising is very critical in attracting women employees so the more you can get out into the community, the better the success of finding and hiring talent.

THE WORKPLACE

Make certain that your work place policies are conducive to both men and women.

· The workplace should be clean and neat and an inviting one that works for all employees

· It should be inclusive environment where everyone is treated with respect and valued

· Offer not only full time employment but flexible work place policies such as part time, work at home, team selling, job-sharing for everyone not just women. After all, work life balance is an issue for everyone.

· Have a mentor or buddy system not just for women but for the all new hires

· Post “work week” schedules in advance so that employees can plan their “life week”

· Provide processes that will accommodate for input and feedback for workplace improvement

· TRAIN-TRAIN-TRAIN all of your employees to understand how to treat each other in the work place and also how to treat the female customers when they come into your business establishment.

The important key here is to make sure that ALL employees are valued, are treated with respect, and have opportunities for growth.

RETENTION

Turnover in any is business unwanted and it seems that in the Auto Industry there is a higher percentage than other businesses.

By having policies in place to attract and retain talented employees: it will increase your customer base, reduce absenteeism, reduce costs, improve employee morale, and very importantly it will positively impact your bottom line.

CONCLUSION

This compilation of best practices is my insight into what needs to be in place to attract and engage women but it is also important to remember that companies pursue programs and practices that specifically fit your organization, your workers, and your managers. What is most vital is to harness the skills, talents and hard work of everyone on your team.

Customers want to feel comfortable, respected, and trusted and so do your female (and male) employees.

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Written by: Patricia Roberts who is the Director-Business Development for AskPatty.Com. She has +39 years of experience in the Automotive Industry which includes increasing the number of women who own and who work in dealerships.

Prior to joining AskPatty.Com, Roberts was the General Director Women’s Retail Initiative on the General Motors Vehicle, Sales, Service and Marketing Staff in Detroit, MI.  She was responsible for programs to increase the number of females in retailing for General Motors.  This included the recruitment, training and appointment of female dealers, working with dealers to attract more women into automotive retailing positions, and to provide an enjoyable selling and service experience.

http://www.askpatty.com/automotive_expert.php?n=Patricia%20J.%20Roberts

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YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/askpatty Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AskPatty-Automotive-Advice-for-Women/15290925093 Twitter: http://twitter.com/askpatty
Gilbert Chavez
Great topic Paul. Superior process in the key in my humble opinion. You can have all the leads you want, but if you can't work them, forget it. I believe it is building the foundation then building the house. Jesus said, " Luke 6:48: He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. It is the cart before the horse. Several stores out there do not have a correct process in working with the leads they are getting today. This goes into a whole new topic, but it stems from a lack of consistency. However, great topic, thanks for bringing it up!
Eric Miltsch
Paul, Strong points; I'd even add a critical 4th element to your post: Usability. Yes, traffic is great. But you'll have a hard time reaching high conversions if your website's usability factors are sub-par. Strong navigation. proper button/link placement, size, shape, even word choices for site copy - just an example of the items that should be considered.
Tom White Jr.
Paul, We have always subscribed to a process-over-people mentality with everything we do at the Dealership. Having said that, we have been very fortunate to have worked with some great people. Specifically regarding leads, without a written and well thought out process in place, even great people will fail to convert. Benchmarks must be ascertained and clearly communicated to everyone involved. Once the benchmarks are communicated, a tracking system must be developed to measure the results. What gets measured gets improved upon. You can't manage what you can't track, and you can't expect a certain result without a system in place to compile all the data. Consistency is a direct result of the processes implemented. No process equates to no consistency. As challenging as our industry is right now, the best stores will garner market share at the expense of the weaker stores. The best stores have always had good processes in place regardless of the market conditions. There is a direct correlation between the number of appointments set and kept, with resulting car sales. Process will always drive the end result for those disciplined enough to implement the process. Traffic is a direct result of the effort taken by the entire organization. Advertising is certainly a part of this, but all the advertising in the world will never make up for the lack of a clearly defined process. We would rather be really good than really lucky. Our process is what makes us really good.

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