Web site helps car dealers cater to female customers
By Sarah A. Webster
Women decide, or in some way influence, most U.S. car and truck purchases - more than 80 percent, according to some estimates.
talk to women candidly about their auto-buying experiences, and you'll
find that many aren't thrilled with their visits to showrooms.
still report being asked, "When are you going to bring your husband in?
When are you going to bring your dad in?" and similar disrespectful
questions, said Fara Warner, author of the 2005 book "Power of the
So what's a male-dominated industry to do?
Enter AskPatty.com, started by entrepreneurs who thought they could make some money straightening out the problem.
from J.D. Power and Associates show that the situation isn't as bad as
some anecdotes suggest. Men pay a little more for their new vehicles
than women do, and women are a little less satisfied than men with the
maintenance and repair process at dealerships.
dealerships have already installed child-friendly areas, with toys and
children's videos, and report doing their best to attract female
salespeople and to treat all customers with respect.
But AskPatty.com, a New York-based Web site, aims to help improve the communication between female customers and auto sellers.
site educates women about all things automotive, with a staff of female
automotive experts who write articles and answer questions on repair,
maintenance and car buying.
also provides a unique service: certifying dealerships as
female-friendly after they've passed a course on how to communicate
with women, a continuing challenge to many salesmen.
percent of the nation's dealerships don't have even one female
salesperson, a 2006 survey by the National Auto Dealers Association
To be certified, members of a
dealership's sales team must read a book titled "How to Get Rich
Selling Cars and Trucks to Women," and take a training course. Then
they must pass a 134-question test, which takes about an hour to
AskPatty.com gets about 20,000
visitors each month. About 50 dealerships have signed on for
certification services. Dealerships pay $225 per person for 12 months
of training and $795 a month for the dealership certification.
Rajnert, 32, the Internet sales leader at Dorian Ford in suburban
Detroit, took the initiative to get his dealership certified after
finding the Web site earlier this year.
actually given us a lot of information on selling to women," he said.
"Women are doing a lot of the purchasing on their own. . . . Sometimes
the women don't feel comfortable. This trains us on how to communicate
a lot better."
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