As a female consumer I spent 17 years as a single mother … and as a woman who knew nothing about servicing her vehicle! Not only did I not know – I was overwhelmed with how to get the information to stop my ignorance and to stop the frustration that I felt each and every time I approached a dealership. I consider myself (as I’m sure many of you do as well) to be a good listener, good communicator and good student. Yet, I continued in a defensive mode (my attitude) rather than getting educated. Funnily enough, 7 years ago I was recruited as a manager into the Automotive Industry … spending time in sales, as a GSM, and even a 1-year stint as Service Manager I continued to see women enter the dealership defensively, aggressively, and often angrily. Bad past experiences had created an ongoing problem – for the customer and the staff trying to serve them. I promised myself that from my own experience(s) and those observed first hand that I would structure, present and overcome some of the problems with women’s experiences with Dealerships and their vehicles.
For the past 5 years I have held Women’s Workshops regarding the How To(s) of purchasing, negotiating, and ultimately servicing your car. My analogy is definitely female focused: “Do you know a lot about servicing your car? How to repair it? When to have basic repairs done that extend the life of your vehicle? Raise your hands if you’ve worn HIGH-HEELS or LOVE SHOES? Have you been ANEMIC or known someone who’s been ANEMIC? Have you ever worn or owned PANTIE-HOSE? How many here with a show of hands has used MASCARA, CONTACT LENSES or worn GLASSES? And how many have ever been accused of being INTUITIVE or EMOTIONAL? Well, based upon the response I’d say you have a huge - HUGE foundation for knowing more about your cars than you might believe. I’m going to teach you how those things tie into servicing or purchasing a vehicle!” The format is simple:
1. Bring in a group or association of women (there is comfort, courage, and support in numbers).
- Create a plan that was female focused and FUN! (Remember, most of us liken visiting a dealership/garage right up there with drilling without Novocain).
- Remove the hurdles – I open every class with a welcome, introduction and then ask the audience to “Be thinking about the absolute worst, most despicable, distasteful experience that you or someone close to you has experienced during the sales or service experience. Now, don’t hold back … and while you’re thinking I’m going to tell you a couple of costly lessons that I learned first-hand. And ladies, we’re going to talk about and learn from how those situations could have been handled differently, more successfully, and how to regain power or control by asking the right questions. And I promise you’ll not always get what you want but you’ll sure leave feeling a lot better!” (Why start with the worst? Simple - those memories are what blocks my listeners’ ears - and just as I’m sure all lawyers hear Lawyer jokes, we car people have heard the car jokes, cringed from the similarities, and eventually learned from the truths contained therein.)
- Recognize learning consists for most people of all senses (Kinesthetic Learning). Classroom participation makes each class unique, often taking different paths to get to the same end result, and participation grows interest, unity, and laughter.
- Stay true to the course path. Each participant is given an agenda, pen, and lunch. We stay on path to give each woman as much ammo and skill as possible
My premise is as follows: High-Heels = Tires, inflation, care, alignment; Pantie-Hose= filters, belts, pulleys; Anemia= oil, and other critical fluids, symptoms of over use; Mascara/Lenses/Glasses = headlamps, turn signals, wiper blades and arms; Emotion or Intuition= how to listen, note, and voice both what you feel as well as hear regarding your car (divide the car into 4 quadrants; and two sound levels – low and high).
I’ve loved teaching every class! The women laugh, learn, and leave feeling empowered, with knowledge, and a list of 4 simple questions that grows their knowledge with each and every visit. A group graduates knowing: How often to have oil changed; When to rotate tires and why; How to tell if oil has been changed; How to know how much air is required for specific tires; When to check air pressure; 225/18R17 – and what it means; and how to Handle less than satisfactory visits with your dealership and leave a satisfied and valued customer.
I stay true to my own motto Live long, Laugh hard, and Keep your Friends and Passions near!
Rita Anderson writes a column for Her Magazine titled ‘Reflections Through a Shattered Mirror’ and travels to dealerships teaching and promoting women’s marketing and other niche marketing. Rita Anderson Garrison lives in Sebring, Fl.; Mother of two adult children and Nana to one grandchild; she continues to speak to Women's Groups and Civic Organizations regarding the power that comes from "Why Walk When you Can Skip?". She specializes in Industrial Art and novelty Photography and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (863)214-5918