The moment a woman enters your dealership, she is looking for signals — signals you may not even realize you are sending. What is your demeanor? What are your intentions? Do you take her seriously?
Why should we care about the signals we’re sending to women in our dealership? Because statistics show that women are a major economic force. Market analyst Bridgett Brennen states in her book Why She Buys that women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence.
We women enter a male-dominated arena, such as a car dealership, on the defensive. We often have expectations that our service advisor may:
- Be too controlling
- Be authoritative to the point of condescending
- Take advantage of us by selling unnecessary services
- Flirt or give unwanted attention
- Laugh at our descriptions
So how can a dealership’s staff create an environment that will make females comfortable?
Be positive and smile, even when a customer isn’t present. I’ve seen consultants appear aggravated behind the desk, only to look up and put on a new demeanor for the customer. At this point, it is too late.
Make her your first priority. All other activity needs to disappear while she is talking. (Try this at home tonight — you may be surprised by the results.)
React and respond. When she has a concern or question, listen intently, keep eye contact, nod your head and validate her comments by taking notes. We have all had the experience of going to a restaurant and placing an order, only to have it delivered wrong because the server did not write it down. If you are not taking notes, your customers may worry that you may get it wrong, too.
Compliment! Compliment! Compliment! We all love compliments, and there are ways to use them effectively during the write-up. Do not, however, use personal compliments. Try complimenting her on her knowledge of the vehicle, of her providing thorough descriptions, or on how well her vehicle has been maintained. This will make her feel respected in your store.
Reassure her that she has come to the right place. You have certified technicians, factory-certified equipment and parts. You will keep her updated throughout the day. Let her know these things. Customers must be put at ease about their concerns before we can sell.
If you ask a woman how she wants to be treated in a dealership, she will tell you, “I just want to be treated the same as you would treat a man.” This simply isn’t true. There is no denying that women want — and expect — a higher level of attentiveness, reassurance and professionalism, but remember: If you deliver a great experience, women are three times more likely to fill out your survey and we will tell all of our friends.