Web site helps female car buyers
A Web site that hopes to improve the way women feel about buying cars and getting them serviced is establishing a presence. AskPatty.com offers advice to female car shoppers and to staff of auto dealerships.
Jody DeVere, president of AskPatty.com, said people can send questions to a panel of auto-expert women and get answers in a timely fashion.
Although the Web site is open to anyone, it's primarily designed with women in mind, DeVere said.
In a recent telephone interview, DeVere, who is based in California, said she has two partners: Peter Martinand and another man, who prefers to remain behind the scenes. The idea for such a Web site came about nearly seven years ago, but the business was launched less than two years ago.
AskPatty is steadily gaining ground throughout the nation, she said. So far, the only dealership in the Upstate area to take advantage of the site is Select EuroCars Inc., of Waterloo.
DeVere saidmany more dealerships throughout the country are enrolled in AskPatty, including a Toyota dealership owned by Roger Penske.
By signing with AskPatty.com, dealers get the good will of the Web site by paying a fee and having staff take a course and then a test. They also get a co-branded AskPatty Web site and a customer satisfaction follow-up program.
Training costs are $1,000 for the dealership's Web site, $795 per month and $225 for each person trained. Assuming all goes well during the training process, a dealership becomes certified by AskPatty, but that has to be updated annually.
"It is intended for consumers or dealers. Consumer women can get a tremendous amount of education on car buying, maintenance, service, car care and safety from about 30 expert women, including two auto engineers and two certified technicians," she said.
The program was designed for AskPatty.com by MaddoxSmye LLE, a consulting firm.
DeVere said she is convinced there's a need for the Web site.
"Communication (between customers and dealers) needs to improve," she said. "If a woman has a bad experience at a dealership, she tells 20 friends who tell 20 friends. It only takes a few bad sales people to create trepidation."
DeVere said female customers are perfect for this kind of service because they influence 85 percent of all buying decisions and they make at least 50 percent of all car purchases.
Asked what kind of things salespeople do that turns off women, DeVere said it's usually comments such as, "Is your husband with you?" or "Bring your husband back and make a decision," or a salesperson telling a woman the sales contract will be explained to her husband.
It's hard to believe there are still salespeople and service writers who would treat women in a demeaning fashion, but DeVere says it happens every day.
Kenn Peters' Auto Notebook appears Sundays in The Post-Standard. Contact him at 470-2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org