As opposed to the general opinion, the automotive industry does not sell cars to men only. In fact, it might sound surprising to you that “women play a leading role in 85 percent of auto purchases” (source: NPR) and “makeup almost a half of the car-buying market” (source: Kelley Blue Book). The fact is that when they see a car, women expect to get something that will work for them. You can call it being pragmatic, but women like to spend their money on something functional – not just big, flashy looks.
However, when something goes wrong – like a flat tire or strange lights flashing on the dashboard – many will try to put off calling the dealer. Why? In most cases, women will postpone this call due to lack of time and – what not many will admit – fear. Yes, fear of the unknown, of what might happen in the dealership.
Now, even in the 21st century, an age-old stereotype about women that are desensitized to cars is still active. It is alarming that there is even a group on Facebook called “Women That Hate Car Dealers“ with almost 6,000 members!
How did this happen? Pondering about the cause of this problem will not help solve it, but something else might – learning and educating the industry about being aware of women and their needs.
So, what can the car industry do to change this paradigm?
Here’s what we suggest dealerships do to get closer to women:
#1: Mind the differences
Even though some will object, males and females are different. They have different needs, which is natural. When it comes to buying cars,
“’women are more complicated than skirts, purses, and nails,’ says a design professor and coordinator of the Transportation Design Track program at the University of Cincinnati” for Road and Travel.
The same goes when they need a repair. Women usually do not know when their car needs to be serviced – until it stops working, at the least. This may look complicated to service advisors, so they need to be aware of the female presence and acknowledge every client with the same amount of respect.
Trust needs to be established in the first couple of moments, and that’s where a good relationship starts.
#2: Be polite
First impressions do matter. For starters, a smile on your face will do. Irrespective of if you are a service advisor, technician, service dispatcher, booker, cashier or some other member of personnel – it is important that you are polite to a female customer.
Treating everyone with respect is important for every kind of business, and in car industry – politeness may even cost you a whole bunch of clients (women talk to each other, and they will tell other women to stay away from you if you are not nice to one of them). Often, things can go wrong when you start patronizing rather than acting welcoming and friendly.
Even though we are living in the digital era, where any information can is attainable in a matter of clicks, people are still different and so are their backgrounds and interests.
You never know if a client of either gender is going to have the same knowledge of cars as you. See what they know and you may even be surprised – because your customer can hold a degree in car mechanics or simply know a lot about a vehicle’s performance.
If you see that this is not the case – DO NOT talk down to the customer, but try to take the role of a kind teacher who can explain things tentatively and in detail. The result of this behavior is going to be clear when your customer drives away from the lot with a smile on her face because she understood what needs to be repaired.
People usually do not remember someone’s name when they meet them and this is a problem in any business. You need to make an effort to promote personalization. Even if your employees are not good at remembering names, you can try to help them by making name tags to make oral communication better.
Things will be much easier in the case of written communication. For example, if you are contacting your customer via car dealership mobile texting solution, make sure that you talk to them by name:
Hi, Jordan, new tires are ready. You can pick your vehicle up anytime.
Or, if your customer is just pulling into the service lane – make sure to welcome him or her by name and introduce yourself politely:
Hi, Jordan, I’m Mat. How are you? We spoke on the phone about your car.
Call him or her by name a couple of times more and you will see that this kind of detail will do wonders.
Open the door for good communication and see a whole new world open up before you.