by Candie Leigh White, author of The Green Pea
The headlines this week will most certainly reflect the feelings of the country as we send key women into power in Washington D.C. Nancy Pelosi- making history as the first Woman Speaker of the House- Democrat from California- (my home state ). I get frustrated sometimes that it takes so long to get equality, as a woman. And, it’s not about getting ahead; it’s just about getting equal time. Women in politics, women in the auto world, it’s all about creating an environment that reflects the whole of society, not just the one with the loudest voice. And as evident today, it isn’t always the literally loud that is heard, but the metaphorically loud. Slow and steady and patiently wise. The journey is definitely worth it, in both worlds- politics and cars. Always great topics for discussion.
When I first started selling cars full time, over ten years ago, I was at a small dealership in Florida. My mom had just passed away and I left California to visit my aunt in Florida. I decided to make a career change and try auto sales. I was the first woman to stay employed longer than two weeks and my third month I made salesperson of the month. It took longer to get my plaque because changing the standard format from salesman to salesperson was apparently quite a process. I came back to California and after my third month at a dealership five times as large with five times the salespeople, I did the same thing. I made salesperson of the month and broke another record for women at that dealership. Two years later I became the first woman at the same dealership to become a closer.
Along the way I had to endure a lot of criticism, apprehension, verbal discrimination and harassment and a brick ceiling. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing. Selling cars has allowed me to do more than take care of myself. It has allowed me to be financially independent. The good experiences and relationships far outweigh the bad. The greatest gift has been my relationships with my customers. Women are generally great communicators, even if it comes in the form of erratic emotions, we are still communicating. Customers appreciate that and will reward you with loyalty. But just like trying to get into the White House, it takes time. Auto sales for women is going to become a booming trend, but if you don’t enter it knowing that it will take patience, commitment, and lots of courage, you may not last.
There is a saying in auto sales that if everyone could do it, they would. But not everyone can sell cars. And not everyone can be speaker of the house. Women are used to having to be strong and patient and accommodating often holding onto their knowledge until the appropriate time to use it. This is the beauty of wisdom and we possess it. So why not use that gift and become part of a great industry where you can be your own boss without having to be responsible for the inventory? The world is waiting for us. I envision dealerships that have as many women as men actually on the floor selling cars and working in service. It’s like finally getting the vote. I pray that women will be heard.