by Candie Leigh White, Author of The Green Pea
If it’s true that the ebb and flow of societal energy runs concurrent with world affairs then it makes sense that the automotive industry is exhibiting the same double-talk as our politicians. Should we be in Iraq? Should we consider the voice of our women who comprise over 51% of the buying public? Hmm. A true dilemma. It makes me scream.
Recent studies by the automotive industry think-tanks state that women don’t bring men to help them buy a car for any other reason than to be a friend or partner on a purchase excursion. This theory is to dispel the myth that dealerships are hostile to women. After having sold cars for ten years, I could have told you that. Of the thousands of people I met, not once did I have a woman look to her male partner as a body guard. But perhaps that is because I am a woman and I was not a threat to her, nor was I condescending.
So, just like in politics, my view is slanted. Likewise, the statistics that support an automotive purchase being excellent or at least satisfactory requires some between the lines analysis. We don’t like paying $3.00 a gallon for gas, but what are our choices? Buying a car has not yet become an overly friendly and safe experience, for anyone, but what are our choices? So, we mark the box satisfactory. Those few excellent marks often come from the customer service agents and management follow up calls that excitedly encourage the purchaser to please mark the excellent box because the salesperson’s job depends on it. More than being genuinely honest and friendly, as a salesperson I was encouraged by my managers to persuade my customer to give me a good score. A dealership’s ability to increase their inventory and buy more dealerships depends on high CSI scores.
Again, I reference a politician who lives in a city with low crime rate. He does not see the value in spending money for more law enforcement even though the city next to him has a high crime rate. His seat is secured by the false picture of a safe environment so he sees his reality. The auto world must look as if it is a great place to work and do business because investments depend on it. So, marketing tools run by male dominated agencies create false statistics stating buying a car is safe and satisfactory for women.
Let me emphasize that there are many wonderful male salespeople and millions of auto purchases that are just fine. But aren’t we tired of settling for satisfactory? Aren’t we tired of getting the last vote? Personally I would like to strive for true excellence. Women buy cars. Women should sell cars. Women should influence the organization of an environment that affects 51% of the population and women should be an equal part of compiling the statistics that decide the direction that a business takes with respect to them.
There needs to be a new energy at auto dealerships. I may have not have ever had a single woman stand behind a man when she made a purchase but I had every single customer, women and men both tell me that they generally hated buying cars because they feared the whole process. Every single one. And that view is not slanted. Let’s see that statistic in bold.