In today’s market, women account for 65 percent of all new car, and 53 percent of all used car purchases. Which means, no matter how you look at it, women have incredible buying power and influence on the car industry. Jim Fitzpatrick recently spoke to Jody DeVere, CEO of askpatty.com, and discussed how dealerships can revitalize their brand and culture to attract more female customers.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Give us a pulse on the current buying power of women in the retail automotive market.
Jody DeVere: There’s been tremendous growth in the women’s market, really ramping up the last five or six years and they are spending, in the United States alone, seven trillion dollars.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh my God. Wow.
Jody DeVere: Yeah…
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a lot of buying power.
Jody DeVere: Yeah, that’s a lot of buying power. Homes, cars…of course, all types of other sundry retail purchases. We’re definitely a power to be reckoned with.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What kind of improvement are we seeing in the way of dealers? Are they attracting more female customers to their show rooms?
Jody DeVere: Well, women are buying cars, no doubt. The DMV stats say around 48-50%, but that’s not counting couples who buy together.
Of course, we have single women and I think they are seeling cars to women because they want to buy a car, so the growth of individual purchases by women who are not coming in with a spouse or boyfriend, actually a lot of times they’ll come with a girlfriend and make a shopping day out of it.
They are definitely making the decisions and I think the big switch the last 10 years is that couples are making more joint decisions.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What should dealers be doing in this regard to, not just attract the female buyer, ’cause to your point they’re coming in and they’re buying cars, but to treat them right so that they come back in the service lane and they come back to buy their next car and they’re treated with respect.
Jody DeVere: My theory now is what would greatly improves the experience for women and without having to take any training and I sell that training is to have an equal number of women on staff in all, not just in the BDC, which is that where they are, the back office, but in sales, in management and definitely as general managers because it automatically changes the culture. Having a token women, okay we got it down with the woman, we have one woman …that’s not enough. What happens, organically in the culture when you have more gender parody, automatically creates a better experience for women because everyone is being influenced.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Let me back up a little bit and talk about your comment where you would have 50% of the sales force and the management team made up of females, correct?
How do you go about doing that? In other words, for the dealers that are listening, they may say, we don’t get that many that apply for the job to begin with. How do we then make that a reality?
Jody DeVere: Well, I’ll make three comments. One: You have to make a decision to set a goal, just like a sales goal, it’s not going to happen the first time you try.
You’re going to have to say, a year from now, we’re going to increase women at all levels by X percent and then make that a real goal and then two, make that a plan.
You may have to start looking at where you’re advertising and the words that you use do matter because you really have to de-mystify the whole thing for women because if they don’t like buying a car, why would they want to work for you, so you’re going to have to work at this. It’s not going to be easy.
Three: Have a training plan, in other words, you can’t just say, well we hired a bunch of women, but they didn’t stay. In fact the turnover rate is still 90% in the first year for women. It’s 67% for men. Still, 90% …
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.
Jody DeVere: … there’s something really wrong and it is a whole culture change … It’s a commitment to those three things and something that I’ve noticed about our industry, and I’m not speaking of just dealers, things move very fast and it’s hard to keep that commitment of a year.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. What you’ll find is while it’s difficult to get females to apply for the sales position, when they come in they’re typically talking to a male manager, whether it be GSM, GM, New Car Manager, Used Car Manager, F&I Director, whatever the case might be, that’s still heavily, those jobs are still heavily male dominated, right?
Jody DeVere: Right.
Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s a disconnect there.
Jody DeVere: Dealerships who have women in leadership or women run dealerships tend to have a much easier time hiring women, retaining and developing them as leaders and one of the reasons has to do with the hiree. Woman are looking at a male dominant field, they want to see, will I fit in?
Is it the place for me? Who else is doing that? Are they being successful? I think creating that, for them to look to and then having a leadership development plan as you mentioned and I would also, in defense of our industry and the male dominant culture that we all work in is, it’s not like in junior high and high school, we’re sitting down with these young women who are in the decision making period, now they’re saying it’s junior high, not high school, it’s too late after high school.
What do they want to be when they grow up and letting them experience what it would be like to work in automotive or presenting that as an option. School, career counselors and parents are also part of the phenomenon of the disparity in gender equity here.
It’s not just our industry’s fault, because even the automakers struggle to get on gender parody, they have not got it yet.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Talk to us about that women in automotive conference that’s coming up.
Jody DeVere: I’m so excited because in June, it’s June 23rd to 26th, we are going to be on a Disney property this year.
The Disney Coronado resort and this is our first time, of course, we’ve had it in Orlando every year on a Disney property and it’s going to make it so much more exciting for those, you can bring your family, they’re offering some incentives so that you can visit parks. We are going to have some outstanding speakers and of course, our topics revolve around dealership strategies, marketing and selling to women, which we touched on.
Personal development … by the way, before I go on, the conference is for men and women. It’s a conference about women, not for women. Leadership development, we’re going to have some awesome speakers, including Lisa Copeland, who you had on your show …
Be doing a great motivational talk and many others. We have in attendance, auto makers, suppliers, many dealerships, a lot of HR professionals do come. I wanted to mention that because I think their insights that they bring will have hierology and complete, but also dealerships who are going to share best practices in that whole hiring and retention program. We’re going to have some people from Tech Force who are working very hard in our industry to get more parents to talk their kids into becoming technicians, girl and boy. There’s going to be a lot of resources and of course, we’ll have some fun too. Some cocktail parties and networking, we’re expecting about 425 this year.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow. That’s a good turnout. It gets great reviews. Everyone that we’ve spoken to here at CBT that has attended or spoken there as really enjoyed the experience and feels as though everybody should go to this conference at least once. Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com. I want to thank you so much for joining us on CBT. It’s always a pleasure and you provide us with some great insights, so thanks again for joining us.
Jody DeVere: Thank you Jim, have a great day.