women business

The Feminine Mystique: Do Women Have An Edge In Car Sales?

American women influence 80 percent of all automotive purchases, yet when it comes to selling those cars, the fairer sex is woefully underrepresented. Except here.


By Holly Reich

Chances are, you rule the roost when it comes to deciding which vehicles your family will drive. Your fella may want that Ferrari but cooler heads prevail, since you can’t really slap that child safety seat into the back of a California. Yes, women do make most family vehicle decisions – and yet, when it comes to actually purchasing your car, it’s likely you bought it from a man.

It’s a simple numbers game. There are significantly more men selling cars than women. But does it matter? For women who feel intimidated in the buying process, a female sales associate can be more comforting and seem less aggressive. That, of course, is a generalization, and may or may not be true. But at one particular Ohio Honda dealership, having a large number of female employees has been a boon to the family business.

Motorcars Honda (www.motorcarshonda.com) in Cleveland Heights, Ohio is one of those dealerships that understands women make a difference.

A Softer Way To Sell

A recent VroomGirls article “What Women Want,” listing the top ten vehicles chosen by women, garnered many responses from our readers. For example, Jennifer Ross, Internet Sales Specialist at Motorcars Honda, noted enthusiastically: “I’m really glad to see that the vehicles that I know and love (Hondas) are in the top four. I sell Honda’s at Motorcars Honda in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. We have women in every position at our dealership including a woman technician, a woman in clean up, women service writers, a valet and controller. Plus, I have a couple of cohorts here in the sales department. Women from all walks of life are employed here at Motorcars Honda. That’s why I chose to work here and why so many women shop with us.”

Of course, this is the kind of story that gets our motors running. We promptly called the source to get the full story.

Trevor Gile, GM of Motorcars Honda, explained how the 20-year-old family business is run by a bevy of women, including his wife and sister-in-law.

“There are 17 different job categories in this dealership. Fourteen out of 17 of these positions have women in them including eight female product specialists, the CFO and a service advisor that has been with us for over two decades,” he explained.

Car Geek Not Spoken Here

“It helps with the customers. Some women feel intimidated by men. And we find that our clientele are coming in so much more educated that we don’t need to have the typical ‘gear head’ working on the floor.”

With women making a reported 80-85% of the sales decisions on cars these days who needs gear heads anyway?

“Women identify with women and they are happy and thankful when they see a woman in the dealership. Women want to be listened to,” explained Nicole Markson.

On another note, she said that, as a woman buyer when a male salesman says, “Do you need your husband to be here?” it’s a put-down and an outdated assumption.

Good point.

Pet a dog, eat a cookie, buy a car

Gile agrees that women naturally focus on their guests’ needs thereby creating a greater level of empathy. However, he says that his dealership also incorporates a feel-good atmosphere with amenities that include fresh flowers, homemade cookies, a popcorn machine and… his little furry dog.

“I see more females in key positions here than any other place in the country,” noted Motorcars Honda CFO, Debbie Housholder, who came to the company after working with two of the largest publically traded auto groups.

Markson, who got her start 16 years ago in her father’s business, Major Automotive Group, in Queens, New York, added, “It’s still a little bit of a boys club, but if a woman has the right personality she can work her way up in the business. And if you’re good at sales, you can be a superstar!”

But we still love chivalry

Motorcars Honda Sales Specialist, Jennifer Ross, is one of those up and coming superstars. “I sold three cars last week and I’m new!” she exclaimed. As for being a woman in a male-dominated business, Ross notes that she is treated like a professional by staff and clients. But, the independent woman still admits to liking the special treatment she receives from her male co-workers, “I have to say chivalry is not dead. The gentlemen here will help me open doors or jump start a car.”

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23 Responses to “The Feminine Mystique: Do Women Have An Edge In Car Sales?”

  1. Michelle says:

    Loved your article so much that I created a facebook page dedicated to WOMEN in the car business! Please share with your readers. I love to see women empowering themselves and taking a role in what used to be a “man’s world”. We are among the elite who have proven that we can succeed in this business as well as they can. Our page is entitled, “I am NOT the receptionist. I sell cars.” and can be joined by visiting our link at http://www.facebook.com/icansellcarsinstilettos — Thank you for this article and for the support of women everywhere in the car business!!!

    Michelle

    • Carisa says:

      Why stripper shoes and tranny heels at work?

      3 inch pumps on average american female size 16. Act like the working class earns credit. DAMN if you dont know.

      Real Estate Agents dont walk all day in those

    • judy says:

      i too liked the article. i would like to sell cars. i am 66 and live alone and am tired of my four walls. plus i would enjoy the extra income. any advice. even though i have never sold cars, i have bought many of them widowed and married. i did not especially like the way i was treated especially when i was in my late 50′s and early 60s. they tend to forget (the younger sales people) that we do have a brain. above all, consideration is a must in any industry. where do i start?

  2. Brianne says:

    I work as a service advisor in one of the busiest Dealerships in SW MI. I love it there. I have always thought of going to the other side, and selling cars. I think it would be so much fun! I love making people happy. Finding their dream car, what could be better? But I only see men over there, so I figure “no women alowed.” I’m actually seriously thinking of talking to the sales manager. I’m great with people, know about cars, and love to make people happy….while making money. Think I’d rock.

  3. Lisa says:

    So glad you wrote this article! I am looking to start my own dealership in the future with a focus on women!

  4. Bridget Neumann says:

    I have sent the last 27 years in the auto business…13 years in F&I and 14 years in sales. I serve a new car dealership in a community of 18,000 people. The town has been very good to me and my customers have been extremely loyal to me.

    I did not dream of being a car salesperson when I was a little girl, but it has provided me a good living and I have enjoyed it!

  5. David ray says:

    Women just do not have a fundamental understanding of how a car works. They get in, turn on the ignition and that’s it.They are much easier to intimidate when buying a car though.

  6. Dawn says:

    I JUST started selling cars yesterday. I am the ONLY female sales rep in my dealership. I can’t wait to beat the pants off of these guys. LOL I’m Selling Cars in My Stilettos and LOVING IT!!!

    • Carla A Martinez says:

      Just read this article and loved it. I was curious how the sales are going for you in the car trade and have you encountered any negative feedback as a woman in the male dominated arena? Please tell me there are not too many David Rays out there! :-)

    • Annettw says:

      Are you still selling cars?

  7. Suzanne A. says:

    Definitely a “Boy’s Club.” They see females as a threat and someone who’s taking money out of their pockets. If you’re young and attractive expect to be sexually harassed on a daily basis. If you’re an older,mature female you’ll still get harassed but it’s a different kind of harassment. No man wants to be outsold by a female so you have to have a very thick skin and you can’t trust any of the other sales people. Sad but true. Very dog eat dog business and the hours suck. But the money can be very good. I believe alot more women would be in the car biz if they were allowed to work PART-TIME. But too bad some idiot made it a rule to only have full-time employees and have 15-20 salespeople on the floor all at one time. So STUPID.

  8. Lisa says:

    I am a female sales floor manager making 6 figures in the so called man’s world.. lol. I’ve only been in the business 3 years but have moved right on up. PEOPLE love the comfort of a woman who knows the right things to say and when to say it!!

    • christina says:

      WOW! That’s amazing Lisa! I just started in car sales myself. Hope I get there someday!

    • Dagmar says:

      Hi Lisa! You still there selling? Are there any advice you would give to women thinking about it? I work at a desler as a greeter and got “promoted” to BDC department…well.. I am kind of scared of sales mostly because of the hours.. but It tempts me soo much.. any feedback?

  9. Tim Roberts says:

    I have been thinking for quite a while now that there needs to be a lot more females in the work place. I would definitely trust a female’s judgment on car issues as much as – if not more than a man’s judgment.

  10. Tina says:

    It is all perception, I never try to act like my male counterparts. I do not need to beat them at their own game.
    I realized long ago the less ego you have and the more you keep your feminine wits about you the more successful you will become.
    After being in this business on and off for the passed 15 years I do see more women trying to get into the business but it comes down to the long hours and lack of weekends off.
    A life long learning tool if any female wants to learn how to truly deal with men.

  11. Michelle says:

    We are a group of Auto Sales WOMEN, nearly 600 strong and growing. We exist to empower other women in Auto Sales, provide training, offer support solutions and key employment opportunities within some of the best dealerships in the country. We welcome you to join with us and be a part of our mission to change the lives of Auto Saleswomen everywhere! Thank you for your support of women in this industry!! I would love to network with you!

    http://www.facebook.com/icansellcarsinstilettos

    Michelle McLain
    CEO/Founder
    I Can Sell Carsin Stilettos, Inc.
    DealerDASH, LLC.

  12. Marie says:

    I have been in car sales for about a month and it is not what I thought. The customers are great and it is exciting helping people find their next car but the drama is a little much especially for a male dominated field. In my situation, I have found a surprising reality where many of my male co-sales Consultants have been more helpful than management.

    I could go on a long rant but what I would really prefer is to move to Ohio and work in a dealership with more female employees!! In reality, I doubt I will stay in the business but the article was helpful and I love that the car industry will be changing, hopefully sooner rather than later :) .

  13. Vinny says:

    Women do well in car sales not only because women prefer to buy from them, but also because men do as well. Straight guys love to feel like they are doing a favor for a pretty girl. Having an attractive girl talk to them for a couple hours and talk them for a ride around is a major selling point for men. Just look at the person above talking about how the male salesmen all try to help her. If her fellow sales people are falling over themselves for her attention, don’t you think her customers are doing the same. Straight guys make very poor decisions when attractive women are involved because they are stupid and easily manipulated.

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