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Jody DeVere

Jody DeVere CEO

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Now It Is a Must. How Can We Do A Better Job Retaining Women In Sales?

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Current statistics on dealerships reporting more than the current 25% of women in face to face positions in our dealerships across the nation show that within a four month’s period of reaching that percentage of women in their organization, they experienced as much as 35% gain in overall vehicle sales, new and used, and a substantially increased used car turnover. Not to mention an increase of desirable employee statements regarding company loyalty and goals toward longevity. How did they do it? Simple. They brought women into their sales, service, and management positions AND found ways of retaining them.

We are sure that you want the details on how to easily increase sales. We are positive you wish to build a more loyal and appreciative customer base, keep your employees excited and happily-compensated in long-term relationships with you. And it is clear that you would like to turn your dealership environment into a totally Yelp friendly popular facility that dramatically attracts the fast-growing women’s market and that of the millennials who are a big part of this. And definitely you wish to greatly influence the success or failure of sales efforts. Then read closely on how your dealership can do the same. What can you lose? Wouldn’t you rather find out what you can gain?

Considering the fact that 85% of all automotive purchases are either directly made by women buyers, or directly influenced by them, if we are not responding to this statistic then our dealerships are missing the boat. Totally.

ROI is a major driving force in how we consider the physical programs and offerings we put forth to the consumer in our efforts to entice them to visit our facilities. We do recognize that internet information access has affected profit margins, margins that were actually inflated by consumer ignorance as to how much flexibility in costs existed. The fact is that we simply cannot make the margins we used to, and have to find ways of addressing our concerns as survival efforts. Playing the numbers game of total sales for a month will eventually be passed with the money lost in potential profits. The bottom line is that we must place our investment monies into areas of concentration that will bring us returns that will not only keep us in business, but by their very nature helps us grow in our financial viability, viability that is attractive to women that may be considering this industry as a workplace.

Here are some reasons why we are not attracting women at this point:

  1. Traditional resistance. Many organizations still are thematically male-dominant, and have programs in place that do not have interest to the new women-driven market. “What was good for my dad is good enough for me” is the motto above the entrance of many empty and abandoned dealerships.
  2. Reluctance to trying new programs. Management and owners may not have the desire or courage to try new programs. Or they may be lazy.
  3. Equitable pay and work programs. Considerations for family needs and even part or adjusted time participations. Traditional long hour work periods do not work.
  4. Knowledge and expertise.  Existing dealership management may simply not have either or both of these to design and implement marketing to attract and hire women, or initialize training and financial or equitable incentive programs to make this happen.
  5. Necessary minimal monetary investments. Many management personnel simply may not want to make these investments.
  6. Difficult economy conditions.”  Many organizations lean on this often-perceived statement as an excuse. This is not an excuse.
  7. Negative reputation. Previous poor treatment and lack of respect.  The bad taste of how women have been treated at the dealership level is still strong in how women perceive dealership viability. Women are still being greeted on the sales lot with detestable statements such as, “Is your husband with you today?”
  8. Failure to address the needs of the women millennials. Times are different. Women in this largest group of consumers want to be in organizations that “feel good” to their basic drives, other than just to climb through positions or achieve high income solely. They want to have better communication with their administrators, and are most often prefer working “with” them, as opposed to “for” them.

So, how do we fix this, and not only bring talented women into our organizations, but keep them there as well?

With sales consultant turnover figures ranging from 72% to 80%, the highest turnover rate in this key dealership position of women consultants is at a shocking 90%. Turnover among millennials is presently at 54%. It is obvious we are doing a lot of things wrong.

Here are some realistic solutions:

  1. Get off our butts and try new methods. Explore new technology. Employ marketing specialists comfortable with realistic womens’ needs. Eliminate procedures that we have utilized just because we have always done so.
  2. Re-examine possible positions that can effectively interest and challenge women.  Conduct non-traditional interviews that ask what these interests might be.
  3. Re-evaluate compensation incentives and adjust them.  Consider not just the primary needs of full and part-time women, but their family and personal needs as well.
  4. Take a new look at our models. We must address the elimination of restrictive traditional procedures we may have in place.
  5. Encourage our educational systems to step up to the plate, and support local and regional programs.  We need realistic training at design, management, service, finance, and especially sales: This must happen at ALL levels of the industry.

Today’s women are time-constrained, pragmatic, comfort-conscious, and heavy into efficient and consistent communication with their employers. They are extremely effective at communicating within their own groups and friends, and pay little attention to advertising. They are direct with their customers and are especially effective at establishing meaningful rapport that translates into return business transactions built upon trust.

If we wish to survive, let alone prosper, we cannot wait any longer. Let’s do everything we can to attract these valuable women employees, and provide them with the incentives to keep them with us.

The time is now, not tomorrow.

_____________

Many of the statistics for this article were derived from the 2015 NADA Dealership Workforce Study, which can be obtained by signing in to NASA University Online, and searching 2015 Trends, or by calling their customer service at 800-557-6232.​

Chris Reed
Thank you Jody for your clear "call to action" and pragmatic advice. There is no world in which 90% female sales turnover is a pathway to retail success. Let's commit as an industry to slay this barrier to our mutual success.
Mark Dubis
There are few in our industry that would dispute the Chauvinistic attitude of managers in the dealership. Lack of education, understanding how to manage employees, and in particular recognizing the value that women can bring to a dealership will continue to be a stumbling block for most dealerships. Not only is it developing a new perspective towards women in the dealership, but a new perspective for all employees. Your organization and others provide resources for dealers to adapt new ways of thinking, but when mediocre performance and high turnover still produce good profits, there is little incentive to change and improve the long term outcome.
Jody DeVere
The Women and Automotive Conference June 26th - 28th in Orlando is focused on providing solutions to many of these issues. Go to www.womeninautomotive.com for more info.
Roger Conant
I'm still waiting for some auto retailers to check in on this. You know my stand! https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/lexus-difference-youre-handing-keys-wrong-person-roger-conant?trk=mp-author-card

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