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 Hondas 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.
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 publicly 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.”