Take a minute to review the following statistics.
- Women buy more than half of the new cars in the U.S. and influence more than 80% of all purchases
- Women request 65% of the service work done at dealerships
- Women spend over $200 billion on new cars and mechanical servicing of vehicles each year
- Women spend 50% more than men
- Women recommend 10 times more than men
- Women don’t “buy” brands, they join them
- 65% of the wealth in our nation will be in female hands by the year 2025
Can your facility afford to ignore this market? What are the hurdles that prevent your store from endearing your business to this demographic? Let’s take a moment to review some of these issues.
It’s time to address an issue that many in our industry have failed to acknowledge, the female factor. We’re talking about the value of having a female on the service drive, as well as the retention of our female clientele. This is the first in a series of articles designed to address these issues and provide some guidance and recommendations to incorporate the female factor into the service end of our industry.
Although this can be a sensitive and intimidating topic for some, it doesn’t have to be. The best place to begin is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my shop discrimination-proof?
- Are my customers truly comfortable when they bring in their vehicle in for service?
- Can I make my service department more welcoming to my customers?
- Are my customers likely to spend their money elsewhere if I fail to act on these concerns?
Our customers have so many options and places vying for their business, we have to be responsive to their needs. One of the ways we can create a more comforting and inviting environment for our customers is to show them we are willing to accommodate their needs, show them that we really care about them and deserve the opportunity to earn their loyalty.
As stated in the opening statistics, a large portion of our customers are women. Historically, the service department has been an intimidating place for women, at best. At worst, it has been downright hostile and frightening. As women, we walk into the unknown, feeling that we are sure to be taken advantage of since most of us are not educated in the operation and upkeep of our vehicles. Anyone who enters an environment where they feel inferior or undereducated will automatically feel their comfort zone melt away. Have you ever gone into Victoria’s Secret (without your wife) to buy her a gift? Bring back memories of a racing heart, cold sweat & feeling totally confused & completely out of your element? Downright sure that the sales ladies will be giggling behind your back the second you walk out the door, if they wait that long? Now you know how it feels for +65% of our customers when they walk into your service department.
Without meaning to, many male service advisors can come across as condescending to women. Admittedly, most of the time, the condescending tone may only be perception. However, we all know, perception is reality. If your customers perceive they are being taken advantage of or being spoken to in a condescending manner, the probability of repeat business has just decreased tremendously. The service business is built on customer retention and word of mouth.
One way to counteract the intimidating atmosphere is to have a female service advisor. Just her presence alone can immediately make a subconscious statement to your customers that you have a progressive and diverse service department. It also presents the impression to women that they have an ally on the drive, someone who understands their unique needs and concerns. The intimidation factor is now not a prominent issue.
Another benefit of having a female advisor is that it helps diversify your service drive. Our customers are diverse and our service departments need to mirror our community. A well-rounded service drive should have several different personality types, age and cultural ranges. We all know that we cannot please every single customer but we can increase the opportunity for success by trying to accommodate as many customers as we can. Certain cultural groups will feel more comfortable confiding in a female as females typically are viewed as non-threatening and nurturing.
In order to stay ahead of our competitors, we have to continue to show our customers that we will go beyond the expected norm. An unexpected ally is a nice way to let them know that we deserve their business and will continue to work hard to earn their loyalty and retain them as customers for life.
Future article will expand upon “The Female Factor” associated issues such as tips on protecting your service department in the new politically correct environment, unique issues for women in the auto industry, finding the right female for your department and ways to educate your female clientele. If you have any ideas on related issues you would like to see addressed, feel free to email me.