There is a movement going on in the automotive industry to help dealerships know how to hire and retain more female employees. This is a time that has come, to be honest it is way overdue.
The statistics are nearly unbelievable, 98% attrition rate, meaning of the 100 female employees hired only 2 stay on. YIKES!
Retention is a big factor and we must ask ourselves why? Not really, but let’s play along.
Does your dealership encourage a culture where people from all walks of life feel drawn to come and seek a career?
Not just on your sales force but in the office or the parts department, maybe in the service department or in the finance department?
Does your current workforce consider your dealership a launchpad for their career?
Are you growing leaders?
I believe the dealerships that are focused on true leadership and on creating opportunities for developing leaders, will attract and retain great talent, especially female talent.
This is a culture that will see no issue with hiring and growing female leaders.
Too many times we are not seeing this type of culture at the dealership, for a number of reasons.
- Absentee owner
- If the owner is in charge of what culture is cascaded and he is absent, who will wave that flag?
- Legacy Store
- The dealership was handed down and the owner is running it as it has been run for generations. Right or wrong.
- Old Boy has not met New World
- If you are still doing business like it is 1980 and treating people as such, your culture is garbage. Stop it! Take a class.
Now that we are past all of that negative, old school, back alley, mess, let’s move on.
How about an old school audit? Are you scared yet? Yes, an audit. First of all answer these questions:
- Would you allow your daughter to work here?
- Which departments would she be most welcomed in?
- How often does your wife visit the dealership?
- Would your wife say the dealership is a female friendly workspace?
- Have a female visit the store that your staff does not know and have them be a secret shopper.
- Have a female that your staff does not know come and apply for a position at the dealership. If they have an iPhone have them record the conversation, not for retribution purposes, but if you want to know what your company culture truly is then you will go undercover to find out. NO FIRING ALLOWED
So now you have a small insight of your dealership, from a female point of view. What do you think?
Is it better than you thought? Worse? Is there room for improvement? (I guarantee there is).
If the statistic that says, women influence 85% of the vehicle purchases in the USA and we are not creating a female friendly environment, then aren’t we saying we really don’t care? You are going to buy our cars anyway.
If we are not creating a culture that says that women are welcome, whether they are buying from us, servicing with us, or working with us, then we are failing.
Women Selling Cars
I meet with female sales associates on a regular basis, I have been doing this since 2014, and the one thing that remains the same month after month, the girls quit.
I think about this all of the time, because they are all different, some girly girls, some tough girls, single moms, married with kids, they really are all over the spectrum so why were they ALL failing when taking on a career of automotive sales?
They are trying to do it like the guys
I cracked up when I had this thought. There is no one to train them like a woman, you know? We really kind of speak different languages, we want the same things, but we ask for it in different ways, for example a guy will ask about the horsepower of the engine and if it is a 6 cyl or an 8?
Women mostly are not going to ask that, we want to know if it will have the power to get us out of a sticky situation passing on a hill or pulling out into traffic at 5pm. It is all the same question, but it is asked differently, right?
This brought me to mentor a young single mom and we started discussing how I wanted her to start marketing herself, how I wanted her desk to look, to incorporate her son into her marketing. I told her to learn as much as she could about horsepower and what that would mean when pulling into traffic, so she could relate that back. The difference between a 4cyl and a 6cyl engine and what it means in terms of power vs fuel economy in woman speak. I told her that she needed to learn to speak both languages and she had to be able to speak to the husband and the wife at the same time without seeming condescending and that this would take practice. I asked her if she had friends to practice on? Then we discussed how most commercials want to talk about “load capacity”, now I don’t know anyone’s husband but my own, he does not haul many loads, of anything, but we do haul some groceries. I told her to go to TJ Maxx and get those colorful reusable bags and stuff them with all of the grocery bags that we all have jammed under our sink (you know the ones that just may save our lives in the event of a grocery apocalypse), and stuff them full, now go get your 3 different level SUV’s and do a side by side comparison video of load capacity, at the end have a bunch of kids pop out the back seat screaming winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Women Must Sell Like Women
If we try to sell like men, we will fail, we aren’t men, we don’t think like them, and we can’t sell like them. Selling is solving problems, correct? Men and women solve problems differently, so it goes to show that selling is no different, we must sell differently. Solve problems like a woman.
Ask your female friends what they feel like they do not know about their car. Invite them to a women’s only night at the dealership where they can visit with the service department and ask any question without fear of looking silly or feeling dumb.
Ask them to plan ahead and prepare 3-4 questions for the service tech who will be answering their questions that night. Provide dinner and plan on only keeping them for 90 minutes. This is how we sell to women. We find the pain point for them and solve their problems.
When we begin to serve our women customers in this manner, I believe our female retention numbers will rise. Once the dealerships actually care about how women perceive the car buying and servicing process, then we will begin to see our women leaders begin to rise and take their place among the automotive giants.