Ladies can Ask Patty car questions
New Web site for women advises them on buying and servicing a car.
ENGLEWOOD -- Ask Peter Martin why he founded AskPatty.com and he'll tell you it was to empower women.
Martin, 42, is the CEO of AskPatty.com. The Sarasota-based company was launched in November and advises women on how to purchase and service a car.
"Women are not treated properly when they come in to buy a car," Martin said. "And when a woman goes into a service department, she's talked down to by the service advisers. Fifty percent of the questions asked of Ask Patty are service-related. The main question is simply, 'Are they telling me the truth?'"
By the way, there is no real "Patty." Martin said the name seemed like a "fun, nice," representative he and his colleagues all agreed on when they dreamed up the site.
"Women are asking for help, for advice, so we built AskPatty.com," Martin said. "We have over 30 of the top women in the auto industry answering those questions. None are paid. They're volunteers. These are professional women who see the need and want to help with our cause. When a woman logs on to AskPatty.com and asks a question, she's getting unbiased information back from a variety of experts."
Women experts. That's the key. AskPatty.com is all about women helping women. A sisterhood, if you will, dedicated to leveling the playing field and enabling women everywhere to make intelligent, responsible decisions in an arena dominated by men.
The top sister is Jody DeVere, president of AskPatty.com. DeVere comes from a diverse background, having owned several businesses in the past. She has also worked in the car business and is knowledgeable about how to sell to women.
"Jody's been the driving force to take AskPatty.com where it is today," Martin said. "As the site is primarily for women, I try to stay as far behind the scenes as possible."
It's important to have a woman at the forefront of a Web site for women, Martin added.
"Today, there are more single women than at any other time in our history," Martin said. "So there are more women buyers in the marketplace."
One manufacturer told Martin more than 75 percent of their customers are women. Seventy-three percent of all service customers are women, he added. Finally, 85 percent of all customer satisfaction surveys are completed by women. These are eye-opening numbers, because if word gets back to the manufacturer that a dealer is not properly taking care of his customers, that manufacturer will refrain from sending the dealer more cars to sell.
According to Martin, the average woman spends 12 minutes at AskPatty.com doing research, asking questions.
"We have a new feature called a vehicle configurator," Martin said. "This gives the woman the ability to actually go in and compare a number of cars side by side, looking at features, options and price comparisons."
The site also offers a dealer certification program, in which about 80 dealers have taken part. For a fee, this program provides the dealer with training on how to better communicate with the female consumer and how to better understand what she's looking for in order to provide her with a better car shopping experience.
"And the dealer makes a commitment to become an Ask Patty certified dealer," Martin said. "We then certify them as a female-friendly dealer."
Once certified, the dealer gets a Web page at the site. A woman can then communicate directly with them.
Although AskPatty.com is still new, a lot of high profile companies in the automotive industry have jumped on board.
"Out of the top 11 auto dealer groups in the nation, we have seven of them currently using our platform," Martin said. "That says a lot, because the big dealer groups are really the ones that lead the industry."
Among these are Asbury Automotive, Crown Automotive, the Hendricks Organization and Penske.
"When you see these large dealer groups getting behind this and embracing it, it says to me we're on the right track," Martin said. "Because the dealers are realizing the importance of women in the car buying process and they're actually doing something to improve the way they sell to and provide service for women."
You can e-mail Steven J. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By STEVEN J. SMITH