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“Yeah I’m interested in this SUV.”
“As soon as your husband gets here, I’ll be more than happy to show ya all the features.”
These first few lines from one of the “Badger” commercials on YouTube are pretty funny unless you are a female who has been on the receiving end of similar treatment. To this day, in my travels around the country, I hear stories of sales consultants treating female customers poorly. Moreover, the vast majority of dealership employees are men, something that poses a real opportunity for dealers who wish to reach out to the folks that collectively influence 85% of all automotive buying decisions: women! In short, if you want to attract more female consumers, you’d better begin by attracting more female employees.
First, though, let’s look at the consumer side. If you wish to make your dealership more attractive to female customers, think about three simple concepts: clean, safe and well-lit. There is absolutely no need to go the whole flowery wallpaper route; just make your entire premises more attractive.
Begin with your restrooms. My wife and I did some shopping at one of those membership club stores, and as we entered, we both decided to visit the restrooms. When we exited respectively, she was incredulous. “Uuuuuugh!” is the best I can do to describe her reaction to the condition of the ladies’ room. She asked me, “What was the men’s room like?” I said, probably a little dumbfoundedly, “Um, I guess it was okay.” The truth was, I didn’t even notice. I’ve joked since, if you can handle a restroom at Wrigley Field in Chicago, you can pretty much handle anything you’ll see in a men’s room. She wasn’t amused.
Next, take an inventory of the first impressions you deliver. When a woman drives on your lot, how easy is it to find customer parking? And if she does, is she immediately accosted by a sales consultant? If you’re not sure how it feels to be a consumer at your store, ask someone outside of the business to visit your dealership and take notes. While you’re at it, ask them to phone and / or email your dealership, and rate you in that regard, too.
Finally, take a look at your staffing. If you’re like the average dealership in the U.S., only about 6% of your employees are female. What can you do to attract more female employees? In my opinion, in most dealerships, it will take a complete turnaround in the culture. If you have developed an “Old Boys’ Club,” you’re going to have to dismantle it before any female will ever consider working for you. The good part is that even a couple of female sales or service consultants will dramatically ‘clean up’ your departments, as both male and female clients may prefer to work with them. At very least, they may appreciate seeing someone who looks like them on your staff.