Well, Do They?
However you feel about women breaking the barrier to fields and trades that have been mostly male dominated in the past, it is happening, from engineering, mechanics, maintenance and even into the executive and senior level officers, the world is recognizing the value that women in the automotive industry bring to the table.
In 2014, Mary Barra became CEO of General Motors in the United States and the first woman to run a major auto maker. That is HUGE! There are female CEO’s in almost every other industry and have been for years, so this recent breakthrough really speaks volumes for the progress being made in the auto industry.
So That Made it Easy, Right?
Now as huge as that seems, just because women have crossed the lines and joined the auto industry does not mean they are respected or welcomed with open arms, sometimes it is a very tough road to travel and the women deciding to join the ranks can have a long history of good ole boy culture to overcome. Fair? Of course not. But that is the reality in many cases. As a culture, I feel like the auto industry is very slow to change. The way they have done it in the past was good enough, why change?
I mean really…why would a “girl” want to sell cars? Does she really want grease under her fingernails? Does she just want to find a man? What could she know about cars? The learning curve will be too hard for her! Why doesn’t she just find a “girl” job? Our customers won’t want a female technician. Our sales staff will not take orders from a woman. And the list goes on.
Women make up almost half of the U.S. workforce, can we afford to dismiss this many people just because of gender? But they only represent about one-quarter of the automotive workforce. Read more here
In a survey conducted in various industries, respondents stated the automotive industry was the least successful at attracting and retaining women.
But let’s look at the successes, because there are many.
In 2010, after the Great Recession, leadership roles for women in the automotive industry were greatly reduced, but according to this article we are seeing a rebound. From CEO’s to suppliers, executive officers and even owners. In fact, Enterprise rental car is largely run by women…who knew?
I found this awesome resource if you are a interested in learning more.
I happen to be a Woman in Automotive
Believe it or not, I myself, am a relative newcomer to the auto industry. I own a social media marketing agency, Social Climber Pro, we offer strategic social media marketing. We realized in 2013 that small to medium businesses were really good at the things they specialized in, but their budgets did not include a ton for advertising and they were lost among the big box stores and were finding it difficult to survive. So we devised a marketing strategy for these smaller businesses than focused mainly on social media. We were getting to their customers where they were, on their devices. We were way ahead of the curve in 2013, very few marketing agencies were taking the time to learn about social and the powerful platforms that would change the advertising landscape in the very near future.
Found Through Social Media
Then one day I received a notification on LinkedIn that someone from a local dealership wanted to connect, I accepted and received a message shortly thereafter requesting a phone call. The Business Development Manager and I had a long talk about what they were looking for at the dealership, they were interested in adding social media to their marketing mix and wanted to schedule a time to talk.
Deciding to scheduled the appointment, I went to work learning all I could about the industry and this particular dealership. I wanted to be somewhat prepared, but before I got to the meeting I was told that they were not interested in hiring a vendor to take care of their social media needs, they wanted someone “In-House”.
Could I Do It?
Wow, I did not need a job, I was busy building my client list, so I made them an offer to do their social media through my company, but they were not interested in that, they were determined to have someone on-site. I had to think about this, they knew I owned my own company, did they want me to sell it??? Did they want me to quit my business??? Curious as to what they were thinking, I took the interview.
I discovered that I really liked them and we agreed that I could still maintain and grow my business, but they felt very strongly that they needed a social media manager who was here and would understand the culture of their dealership and what their core values were and to help portray them to the public.
I agreed, it was a win-win for everyone.
What I learned From Men
This was the best decision that I have ever made, I’ll tell you why. The auto industry and car dealerships are multi layered, gears in motion, living, breathing machines. I had no idea! He was right, they needed me on site, not because I needed to be “on-demand” but because I was an outsider, I had no experience in the industry….AT ALL, I had no idea what all I didn’t know.
The great part of this is that I was allowed to learn the auto industry from the inside, while doing what I am really good at!
Was there resistance?
There was a little resistance at first, but not because I am a woman, but because social media was and is new to the auto industry. Most of the other managers thought that I “played” on Facebook all day. Far from it. But my experience was different from so many others that I read about. I was given respect from day one, I never felt slighted because I was a woman. There was nothing “off limits”. I had access to every other manager, and I could ask any question that I needed to do my job.
Sometimes, I would get a little resistance when someone didn’t know why I needed that information, it really didn’t matter “why” I needed it, if I stated that I did, they needed to honor that, I did not have time to learn this industry and teach them my job too. I only had time to run as hard as I could and learn and apply, learn some more, use my skills to marry the two worlds and then…learn some more.
But, did I learn?
Today, you are reading a blog by someone who intimately understands the dealership and all of their revenue streams and how to effectively market them on social platforms to drive sales, to fill service stalls, and to maintain a great reputation.
Is this because I am a woman? Hell no! It is because I am a human with the ability to learn and grow. I find the automotive industry and the men and women who work here, amazing, interesting and passionate about what they do and who they do it with. The complexities of running a dealership still leave me in awe, but that does not intimidate me to the level that I cannot contribute to the growth and success of each and every dealership that I come alongside of and add my inside out expertise. I have become so passionate about the auto industry that I have begun scaling back my small business owners and adding more dealerships to my business portfolio.
This Will Surprise You!
If you are reading this and in the automotive industry you are going to be amazed by this next sentence.
I am a 52 year old woman who never worked in a dealership before and now, not only do I handle the social media for 1 dealership, but I have taken on several others. I also sit on the executive management team of my original dealership as well as running a thriving social media marketing agency with over a dozen employees and growing monthly.
And I am a girl!
I break every stereotype out there:
- Too old for social media
- A woman in a man’s world
- Learning all this new “techy” stuff is for Millennial’s
I could go on, but you get the point.
There are some very intelligent women in the workforce. These women may love the auto industry as much as you do, will you give them the opportunity?
I am so glad that someone took a chance on me and offered me the opportunity to learn. I have come to love the auto industry at the dealership level.
Thank you to:
Jef Frost – Dealer Principle – Roper KIA
Greg McCoy – General Manager – Roper KIA
Robin Wilson is the co-owner of SCP Agency.
She is a self proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.