-by Sally Whitesell for AutoSuccess Service Magazine.
Why should we focus on women? The facts may shock you!
There has been a lot written about the importance of catering to your female clientele. Unfortunately many dealerships don’t completely understand why this is so crucial to current, and more importantly, future business.
I’m a woman who has been working on service drives and developing gender-based training programs for over two decades. I’d like to share some of my research with you, and give you suggestions to help you become more successful with women – your largest demographic.
Let’s start with why women are so crucial to our business.
- Women influence over 85% of all purchases. Women handle the banking and budgets in a majority of American households. So even if she isn’t in your store, she is often the influence or veto behind the purchase. In many instances, the woman is the sole decision maker. This is due to an increase in the average age of getting married, high divorce rates, and the fact that women live longer. Sorry guys!
- Women now control over 60% of the personal wealth in American and 51% of all stocks. These numbers are expected to increase dramatically in the next decade. This statistic alone should make the automotive industry stand up and take notice.
- The volume of new car registrations by women increased by 39% over the last five years compared to only 19% for men.
- Women are 3 times more likely to fill out reviews and surveys.
- Women are a walking network as they tend to share all of their experiences with their friends, family and co-workers.
- Women are spending over $200 billion a year on new cars, repairs and services.
- Over 65% of your service clientele are women.
I could go on, but I am sure you can see why it is imperative to take the time to train your department to cater to your female clients. Most women are not comfortable bringing their car in for service in the first place, so we’ll start this series by addressing the environment on your drive. Let’s take an imaginary trip to your store. Don’t worry; this journey does not include pink paint!
Imagine driving up to your store for the very first time. Would you be able to clearly understand where you should park for service? Are there clear signs with directions? Most women aren’t afraid to take direction. (No offense guys.) As a matter of fact, we want to know where to go so we feel confident from the moment we approach your store. Directions should have been given when the check-in time/appointment was set and there should be clear signage to indicate where they should to pull in.
Let’s walk inside. Are your team members easy to identify? Greeters, advisors and porters should all be neatly dressed in uniforms with name tags and practicing the ten-foot rule. This means if they are within ten feet of any of your guests, they will acknowledge them with a greeting.
Now take a look around with an observant eye. How many old signs, banners and useless displays do you have around? Is the drive clean and neat, or is it being used as a storage area for items not in use? When is the last time your drive was painted and the floor cleaned? Dirt and clutter cause stress for most women. A cluttered environment makes your store look more like a bargain warehouse than a professional service drive with highly qualified technicians. Which one do you want to be? A clean, updated facility will instill confidence in your professionalism.
Now take a listen. Do you hear that awkward silence? It’s your customers waiting while their advisor is multi-tasking. Why not elevate the ambience and lighten the mood with some upbeat music? We have found that light rock, alternative music and oldies work well. I have one store where clients have been known to sing along with one of the musically inclined advisors. Imagine how fun and lively the atmosphere must seen on that service lane!
Any women in the house?
Do you have any female employees present? Women feel more comfortable when there are other women around. Research shows that companies with a gender-balanced team have a higher ROI. Women clients may not care if they work with a female advisor, they just want a female presence on the drive and on your management team. This will show them you value women as important and respected. This allows your female clients to be more relaxed and comfortable in your store.
Use this article as a checklist. A few changes on the drive can make a huge difference in customer satisfaction, retention and of course; revenue. Keep in mind that when you meet the expectations of your female clients, you will exceed the expectation of everyone else!
Statistics from Media Post, Forbes Magazine, Consumer Affairs and Edmunds.
Sally Whitesell is the Founder and CEO of sw Service Solutions and Fixed Ops University. She is the author of “Words that Sell Service” and has provided service advisor training in hundreds of drives across the country for over 23 years, at an individual and corporate level.