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The automotive industry is a male dominated place, so being the only woman on this incredible DrivingSales team is par for the course. Having said that, it was an incredible experience attending the Women Dealers’ Breakfast put on by NADA yesterday morning. Being surrounded by a group of successful, strong-willed, and phenomenal women looking to elevate those around them was truly inspirational.
As a part of the program, Dr. Nicole Lipkin encouraged us to re-evaluate the current landscape for women in the automotive industry. Currently, women influence 80% of the decision-making for car purchases, yet only account for 7% of the workforce. If women influence over $80 billion worth of car spend, would making an effort to have more female employees on the front lines to interact with and bring a familiar perspective to the car buying experience increase your month’s end revenue? Not to mention that a multitude of research shows that women are more loyal to their workplace under a variety of circumstances, potentially decreasing the likelihood of turnover.
Then I got to thinking: why aren’t more females in the auto industry? Is it because of the nights and weekend schedule? The real estate industry keeps quite similar hours and that sector is flooded with female professionals. Does it have to do with passion for the product? It’s common for men to typically have a stronger interest in cars than women, but women create, sell, and engage with non-stereotypically female products and do so successfully all the time. Perhaps it’s because it’s a sales profession? I’d venture to say that almost all sales interactions are really customer service experiences, which women typically excel at creating.
It’s not that men can’t successfully interact with female customers. If made aware, men can listen, multitask, and nurture a customer relationship with the best of them. But simply having a female presence, female perspective, and an inherent female hand-holding customer service experience can set you apart form your competitors and create the relationships that garner repeat customers.
I don’t think that dealerships intentionally overlook women for hire. Perhaps the competent, ambitious women that might fit well in a dealership simply aren’t filling out applications. So what can dealerships do to generate more female applicants for the job?