What the Industry Can Do to Recruit Female Talent – Lisa Copeland and Brian Benstock

Lisa Copeland, founder of Lisa Copeland Global and CEO of Cars Her Way, as well as Brian Benstock, GM and Vice President of Paragon Honda to discuss women in automotive and what the industry can do more of in 2019 to recruit female talent to our phenomenal industry.

[Previously aired 1/3/19]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thank you very much for joining us folks.

Brian Benstock: Hi, Jim.

Lisa Copeland: Hi.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. I’m going to start off with you Brian. In your estimation, why aren’t there more females that are attracted to our industry?

Brian Benstock: I think some of that may be the way the industry has been set up. Since meeting Lisa and several other people, I’ve made a conscious effort to bring women into automotive, and realize at the base level, there’s not enough. It really takes, it’s going to take some time to get that. I think there’s a misunderstanding of the opportunities in the business. I believe that we could do a better job of educating to people to the incredible opportunities that are represented by the automobile industry, and there’s potentially one other factor. That many women are not necessarily interested in being in the automobile business. I believe in equal opportunity, not necessarily equal outcome.

Jim Fitzpatrick: What do you mean by that? Explain that.

Brian Benstock: I don’t think the goal should be that 50/50 male-females in the automobile business. I think it should be whatever … The opportunities should be 50/50, of course, but if women are interested in being in the business they should be given every opportunity. I think if we’re looking at this as a bonus system, I think we fall far short. If you look over at some of these socialized countries over in Europe where they tried to make 50/50 opportunities available for people, still 80% of the women … 80% of the nurses are female, and only 20% of the men. And that’s because there are certain natural tendencies. Make no mistake about it, I think there’s a dramatic opportunity for us to have more women, in higher positions, in automotive. Look at what we’ve got with General Motors. My God, what a job she’s doing over there. I think these opportunities will make opportunities clearer for other people who want to get into the business.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Lisa, do you feel that in our current status of the retail auto industry, that women have a fair … Do you think the playing field is leveled for women, and they can come into it just like men come into it? And they’re going to be welcomed with open arms when they do?

Lisa Copeland: That’s a big question. I’m of the philosophy, you have to see it to be it. And if women cannot see women, and other women in leadership positions, seeing women dealer principles, women general managers, women sales managers. Think about when there are dealerships out there, they’re really excited and they will call me, “Hey, Lisa. We have three women salespeople now. One in F&I. We’ve arrived.” I’m sorry, I don’t believe that they’re trying very hard. I am going to disagree a bit with my good friend, Mr. Benstock. I do think that we need to level up, because I believe that our showroom floors need to mirror the demographic of people that are coming in to buy cars. I don’t feel like the majority of the dealers in the country are intentional, and intentional is a word, to hire and attract females, women to the retail automotive industry. If they want my best advice, is that you have to see it to be it, and how can they be it when they can’t see it because she does not exist in your organization?

Jim Fitzpatrick: In your opinion, Lisa, what do you think has to change in order to attract females into the industry to begin with? I know that we often talk about the hours and the compensation, and things of that nature. There’s not enough of a work-life balance. A., do you agree with that? And, B., what would you add to that list?

Lisa Copeland: Well, I am going to agree with Mr. Benstock on this one. I don’t know that all these women want to be in the automotive industry. I think the bit of the onus is on the industry itself, is to show women what the opportunity is. Because I think in their minds, especially millennials coming in with college degrees, they’ve got a lot of choices nowadays. It seems to me like the automotive industry is very, very low. I go out and I get hired to speak at universities, and all around the country, they’re like, “You know what, Lisa? This is great what you’re doing, but we don’t want to be in the car business. We’d rather work at Google, or at Amazon. Or at Facebook. Anywhere but at a car dealership.” I don’t think that we’ve done a good job, as to Brian’s point, of presenting the opportunity, and then being intentional in hiring and attracting women candidates.

Brian Benstock: Let me jump in there for just a second-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Brian, how can we be more intentional in hiring women?

Brian Benstock: I spoke, Lisa, about having equal opportunity, and I don’t think we’re there yet with equal opportunity. That being said, wherever that equilibrium sets, I’m okay with that. I would agree with you, right now there’s not an equal opportunity. Many of the managers in many of the stores are men, and they’re not necessarily understanding of the need to hire females at the sales level. If you’re not hiring female salespeople, then you’re never going to get female managers. If you don’t get female managers, then you’re not going to get female general managers. If you don’t get female general managers, you’re not going to have the same opportunity to have female dealers. You mentioned, Google, and isn’t it amazing. We’ve done some work with the team at Google, and the top people that I’m dealing with there, are females. And they’re fantastic. And they love what they do. And they’re incredibly competent at what they do. Seeing that, causes me to realize just how much opportunity I’m missing by not having more females in leadership positions at our dealership.

Lisa Copeland: Brian, you have to make the intentional decision to do that. I did a sales meeting with you at our dealership where you said, “I had a blind spot. It wasn’t intentional.” You weren’t intentional that you weren’t doing it, it was just the one … The only little thing that I think I’ve ever seen you miss in the automotive industry right? It was a blind spot. The second that you realized it, you were on it to the point where we put you on the board of the Women in Automotive conference. You’re a guy that gets it. The problem is, is that most people, most car dealers, don’t have that same ‘aha’ moment the second they hear it. I was with you when, literally, you said, “Lisa, I can’t believe I’ve got this blind spot. I’m fixing it immediately.” And that he did.

Brian Benstock: I called it a steatoma. And it’s steatoma. Once it’s removed, you can see, and you really see the opportunity that’s there. The next most difficult part is what to do about it? If you’re hiring and you’re looking at candidates, how do you get more female candidates? I think there’s a lot of preparation. We’re having some really good results with some of the hires. Keep in mind, my boss, my partner, is a woman. The person that brought me into the business, my general manager Nancy Phillips, was absolutely a rock star, was a woman.

Brian Benstock: I believe in women in positions of power in automotive, and I’ve seen exactly what they could do. Up into recently, there wasn’t enough focus. I think, Lisa, what you said, you need to do this with intention. Not to balance male-female, but what you said before is also very key. Is to have your sales team mirror the community that we serve. For the most part, the community that we serve is going to be comprised of nearly 50/50 men and women, and we all know the statistic that women make 80% of the decision to buy a car. It would be helpful to have more female salespeople on the floor.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Lisa, give us a quick checklist for the dealers that are listening today as to what a dealership needs to do to be proactive in this area to attract females into their operation.

Lisa Copeland: I would say the first thing they need to do is meet with their HR director and their hiring and their sales managers. This has to be a top-down initiative. The dealer principle has got to be, just like Brian, committed to saying, “You know what? I’ve had a blind spot. But you know what? I’m going to fix it today.” And you don’t hire people because of the color of their skin or their race, or their sex. You hire the best candidate for the job. But, I think it starts at HR. It’s having a conversation with the leadership in the store and saying, asking them, the frontline mangers, “Why do you believe that we don’t have more managers, females, in the industry?” I think resoundingly, you’re going to hear, “Well, Boss, it’s the schedule. It’s the fact that women can’t work on Saturdays because they’ve got kids. It’s the whole locker room experience, a lot of times.”

Jim Fitzpatrick: In those … In your guesstimation, are those legitimate reasons? Are those legitimate items?

Lisa Copeland: They are. Yeah. 100%. 100%, it’s the schedule. The majority of women, I left the car business. I came in and I worked while I could, I started having kids and I left for 15 years. I wanted to raise my kids. I wanted to take my kids to soccer on Saturday. I wanted to be a mom. And I had no interest in every single night pounding it out at the car dealership and having a nanny raise my children. So I say-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Do you think you would have stayed in the industry had it been for 40 hour work week that you were on?

Lisa Copeland: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because I left and I got a job in the mortgage business, working 40 hours a week.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Lisa Copeland: I didn’t quit working. I just quit working in the automotive industry.

Brian Benstock: Lisa, I think what you said there before, also, something I want to go back to. They’ve got to see it to believe it. They’ve got to see it to achieve it. And how do you show a woman, a salesperson, that they can make it in the business if the people they’re working for aren’t like them, or aren’t female? We had hired some really promising prospects, and I sent Lisa a text and I said, “Hey, I need your help. I want to have role models for the people we have on our floor. Not necessarily in the store, but in the industry, that they can look at as a resource on any of the social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram. That these new sales hires can look to these women for their experience and to say, if she can do it I can do it.” I asked Lisa, “Do you know some people that my people can call?” And Lisa, of course, she always has to one-up me, she took that question and she posted it on Facebook. The response was overwhelming.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It seems to me as though it’s a pretty easy fix if it’s an item that’s focused on, from your point Lisa, from the top down. When the dealer principle says that we’re going to do something in the dealership, chances are, that’s going to happen. This seems to be one of those areas that the dealer principles, and I think it starts there, haven’t really taken that initiative, and I’m painting you with a very broad brush here, because I think there’s a lot of dealer principles that have, but by and large they haven’t said, “We’re mandating this. We’re going to give the mandate to our managers to hire more females. We’re going to reward those managers for doing so, in one fashion or another.” Just to start the ball rolling, because as you know, Brian and Lisa, you guys know this from working in the dealership, it is the good old boy network.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I sat on many sales towers, and I’m sure you did too, where a female would come walking in, this is going back quite a few years, but they’d say, “Yeah, we got your application.” Boom, right in the garbage. We really don’t want to screw things up here among the 10 managers, in both F&I and in the showroom. I’m sure you saw that. Those managers are still alive and well, running dealerships and on the tower. How do you change that? Unless the dealer himself, or herself, says, “Hey, guys. This is what we’re doing. You’re either on board, or you’re not.”

Brian Benstock: Change or be changed. I have to tell you, I know a couple of dealerships that are now being run by incredibly competent female general managers. Honda, Downtown LA, my friend Joe Shuster, has a rockstar GM, she’s doing a great job for them. I believe Rick Case Honda also has a woman in charge at the tower there, whose doing an excellent, excellent job. I think that’s, change or be changed, I think a dealer putting his or her money where their mouth is, and putting women in these leadership positions is a really good first step.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Brian, in your mind, can a salesperson be very successful and work a 40 hour work week in this business?

Brian Benstock: Jim, I don’t understand, we drink our own kool-aid. What is the average number of sales a salesperson is making per month in our industry? Give me the number.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I guess it would be 10.

Brian Benstock: Right. It’s 10 to 12.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Brian Benstock: Let’s back into that question. Can you sell 10 to 12 cars a month working a 40 hour week? Of course, you can. Five days a week, five eight hour days, sell one car. We just got down, I went to the service department, took a real high tech device, my cell phone, I took a couple of pictures of VIN numbers of cars that were in the service lane. Brought it up to the showroom, we printed out the registration, took the VIN number, put them into our data mining tool and we started making appointments right there. The ability to sell one car, every other day, should not require a 10 or a 12 hour work day. In fact, I’m surprised … Women are smarter than men. Women won’t tolerate that kind of low productivity. Apparently the men do.

Lisa Copeland: I have to say, I just interviewed Ali Reda, who is the World Champion Car Salesman. He broke the world record. I said, “Gosh Ali, you must have to work six days a week, bell to bell.” He said, “Lisa, I’m in Dearborn, Michigan. I work five days a week, nine to six.” And he sold 1530 new cars in 2017. He works smart. He says, “I don’t hang out at the cooler. I’m not on Facebook. I’m not wasting time. I’m here to sell cars and do business.” He works 40 to 50 hours a week, and sells 1530 new cars. Can it be done? Absolutely. It all gets back to being intentional. Success is intentional.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is. As you know, if a salesperson comes in and sells 10 or 12 cars, and they go to work 40 hours a week, you know they’re going to get chastised by their manager. “Dude, what are you doing? What’s going on? You need to be here more in order to hit that 15, 20 cars.” You know sales managers. I never was … I was never satisfied. If somebody sold me 20 cars a month, I felt they left four cars on the table. If they sold me 10 cars a month, I felt the left 14 cars on the table. How do you then have the courage to say, “I’m going to let that person go home, or go to the soccer game, or come in late, or go home early?” Meanwhile, they got 12 cars burning gas for the month.

Lisa Copeland: It stops at the top. It starts at the top.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Absolutely. I totally agree.

Lisa Copeland: The dealer has got to set the culture for his or her organization. And it can be one of two cultures. I have worked in both of the cultures. Where you work for an absolute bully, and they don’t care about their employees lives or they have to work, I don’t care, blah, blah, blah. We need this much production. I got expenses to pay. Or-

Jim Fitzpatrick: In the old days, we thought by whipping the mules that much more we were actually making them successful people. When in reality we’re moving them closer to the front door.

Lisa Copeland: It doesn’t work with our children.

Brian Benstock: Now, we have to understand that discipline, the same thing that works for one person, motivates one person, will demotivate another person. I had a hockey coach when I was playing hockey as a kid that he would skate behind me with a hockey stick and rap me in the backside, curse and scream at me, and I’d run through a brick wall for that man, and I’d still run through a brick wall. These are things that we have to change. Today, that time is currency, people value time off more than they do money, and we have to understand that. Where I struggle is the man or the woman that tells me they want to be a beast, they tell me they want to be a millionaire. They tell me they want to achieve a certain amount of success, and they’re also talking about nine to five.

Brian Benstock: I think we have an obligation to be honest with people and say, “Listen, you can do well. You can work nine to five, you can work a 40 hour work week and you can have certain success in our industry. But the things you say you want to be, are probably going to require a different level of understanding, a different level of work ethic, and probably a different level of efficiency in what you’re doing.” I don’t know if Ali always worked the schedule he’s working. Lets assume most people are not him. You’re going to have to out produce the problem, initially, with work.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. And I think most people get that. If a female comes in and she gets her 12 cars out, and she works her nine to five, she understands that. You’re not going to let anybody go in this economy for selling 12 cars a month, and doing a great job in CSI and what have you. If they choose to do that, and they see that as success because they also have a family life, and they’re also able to get to the soccer game, then so be it. Make the accommodations for that versus the-

Lisa Copeland: Jim, guys, let me just pipe in here because otherwise we’re going to get hate mail galore. It isn’t just the women that want to have a life-

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a very good point.

Lisa Copeland: And spend time with their family.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Very good point.

Lisa Copeland: This new, younger, generation, money does not motivate them like it used to, when we were all young and in the car business.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Lisa Copeland: Men and women, people. Brian says time is the new currency, and I believe that. We only have so much time on this planet.

Jim Fitzpatrick: We’re losing Brian over that, by the way.

Brian Benstock: Let me just say this-

Lisa Copeland: Brian, the higher quality people, men or women, there’s gotta be a schedule. Mr. Benstock, you and I are not going to agree on everything.

Brian Benstock: I’m not going to agree with this. It’s a math problem, and we don’t understand the math. Jim, if I asked you 20 years ago, “What’s the average number of cars being sold, per salesperson?” You would tell me what?

Jim Fitzpatrick: 10 to 12.

Brian Benstock: 10 to 12. And today it’s 10 to 12. What’s happened in that 20 years? More margin compression.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know.

Brian Benstock: Back in the day, if you’re selling 10 to 12 you could have a certain lifestyle that was better than what our current people can have. Today, 10 to 12, with thin margins, the job is just not going to be a great job.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I will tell you something else-

Brian Benstock: I’m not suggesting that you have to work like I did, or do, I’m just saying your expectation … You’ve got to make more out of the day. I think, the 40 hour work week, I think you can get a deal a day working a 40 hour work week. I think if you use that day properly, and you manage your activities correctly, you can sell 25 cars in that period of time. Then the job becomes fun. The money [crosstalk 00:19:31]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Let me switch gears a little bit and talk about compensation, because that also is one of the elements that plays into this. 30 years ago, if we’re going retro here, 30 years ago I paid salespeople $100.00 mini. Fast forward 30 years, and all that goes into that, what are paying salespeople today on a mini? About a hundred bucks.

Brian Benstock: $200.00

Lisa Copeland: I think I was paying a buck and a quarter. Not much more.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Maybe a buck and a quarter. Meanwhile, the car, the average price of a car in that amount of time went from $8000.00 to $38000.00.

Lisa Copeland: Jim, one of the ways that we justified that is that the factory, the factory was paying our salespeople more money than we could ever pay them. We let the factory take that burden, because they’re part of the reasons that our profits were shrinking. They kept cutting our margins, I thought, “I’ll let my salespeople work the factory pay plan.” I bet you feel the same way, Brian.

Jim Fitzpatrick: You’re talking about through incentives and such, right?

Lisa Copeland: Oh, yeah. Yeah. All of their … What I call the funny money.

Jim Fitzpatrick: The funny money, yeah.

Brian Benstock: Jim and Lisa, I think, again, let’s go back to the math. In 1950 there were 47000 new car franchise dealers in the United States of America. Today there are 17000, selling more cars. What’s happened is the industry has become more efficient. I think with efficiency, we should look to the efficiency from the salespeople. We should expect that they’re going to sell more cars. In fact, they have to, to earn a good living. It’s not that they’re better than the salespeople were in the past, but in the past there were larger margins. The salespeople could get away with selling less cars. Today, the margins are thinner so they have to sell more. What I’m saying is, we need to change the standard and the expectation of our people, in our salespeople. To say to a woman, or a man, “You can work 40 hours a week. We think that you can sell 15 to 20 cars.” Depending, again, on the branch. For us, Honda and Acura, we need to be selling 15 to 20 cars, and I think you can do that with a 40 hour work week.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Do you see the day that we’ll, and I know some groups do this now, where they pay 35, $40000.00 a year base and then a unit bonus for the number of cars that the individual sells?

Lisa Copeland: I did.

Brian Benstock: I was in Amsterdam around Thanksgiving, visiting with dealers there, and I had three or four dealers complaining about just that system. There’s no incentive for the salespeople and they wish they could pay them based upon productivity more, and less on salary. I met a couple of … There are two groups. The Sheep and there are Lions, I met a couple of the lions over there in Amsterdam, I didn’t know they had lions in Amsterdam, but they sure do. One of the gentlemen I met was doing a lot of online sales, he was selling about 150 cars a month with four salespeople. 150 cars a month with four salespeople. And very substantial margin. I think that the notion of paying people to show up, it may be catching on, I just don’t think they’re ever going to get the productivity-

Jim Fitzpatrick: You say that but if you go to any other sales organization, pharmaceutical sales or any-

Lisa Copeland: Factory.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Of them out there, and you go to work for a big company, they’re going to give you a base salary so you can pay your bills, and then they’re going to say, “If you really want to be a winner, and here’s what we expect from you.” The 12 cars, the 20 cars, whatever the case might be-

Lisa Copeland: They’re going to give you KPIs, they’re gonna give you quotas.

Jim Fitzpatrick: The notion that somebody-

Brian Benstock: Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Let me finish this one point here.

Brian Benstock: What pharmaceutical company-

Jim Fitzpatrick: I knew I’d hear from the dealer on this one.

Brian Benstock: What pharmaceutical company do you know of hooking on a 3% margin?

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know that. I know that. That’s not the … You know what’s funny about that? That’s not the salesman fault. That is the fault of so many other aspects, but we always come down to the salesperson and say, “Sorry, there’s margin compression. You’re out.” But there’s not margin compression when you’re building a 48 million dollar showroom. There’s not margin compression when you’re spending $700.00 a car on advertising. There’s not margin compression when you’re sending yourself all over the world, as a dealer principal, with a new yacht and jet. All of a sudden when we talk about margin compression, we go, “Oh no, that’s a salesperson problem.” To me, it just doesn’t make any sense that we keep coming down on the salesperson. The first person, by the way, in the dealership we go to, to buy the yachts and the jets, and the showrooms, and the sauna baths, and everything else. It’s just surprising to me that 30 years, it was $100.00 mini. Fast forward, it’s still $100.00 mini. Now, somebody to come in and sell-

Brian Benstock: Now, wait a second. Now wait a second. Wait. Wait.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Let’s say they sell that 10, 12, or 15 cars a month-

Brian Benstock: I’m a salesperson.

Jim Fitzpatrick: They’re going to make $1500.00. This is crazy talk.

Brian Benstock: Jim, I’m a salesperson.

Jim Fitzpatrick: What say you?

Brian Benstock: You are … This could become a minimum wage conversation. The mini is supposed to be just that. The mini. That’s not the maxi.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, but Brian, come on. You sound like you’re recruiting me as a new salesperson.

Lisa Copeland: Oh, Benstock.

Jim Fitzpatrick: We got dealer fees-

Brian Benstock: I’m telling you. I have higher expectations of our people than our mini fees. That’s the rule.

Jim Fitzpatrick: How much is your dealer fee?

Brian Benstock: What’s that?

Jim Fitzpatrick: How much are the dealers fee in your dealership?

Brian Benstock: $75.00, mandated by New York State. [crosstalk 00:24:44]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Many dealerships, including the ones in Atlanta, are $900.00.

Brian Benstock: You know what? Their grosses are lower than the grosses are in the other states. [crosstalk 00:24:57]

Jim Fitzpatrick: If I’m the salesperson that procured that deal, I get buckus out of that. I don’t get any money on the $1,500, on the back end, I don’t make any money. But, I’m the one who just lived with this customer for the last five hours, to close the deal so I can go to my kids soccer game on Saturday.

Brian Benstock: Jim. Jim. I may be coming across the wrong way. I think we’re advocates for salespeople being well compensated.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know. I know you are.

Brian Benstock: And our salespeople, my gosh, the Acura sales people are doing incredibly well. I think the Honda salespeople, as well. I have a reasonable expectation for our sales team to make six-figure income.

Jim Fitzpatrick: And I’m sure many of them do.

Brian Benstock: That’s the minimum that they can earn.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Lisa, would females rather buy cars from other females?

Lisa Copeland: I don’t think so. Not necessarily. I think that women want to come in, and I think they just want to have the option to come in and decide who they want to work with. As a female, I was just in a Highline store the other day in town, a client of mine, and I walked in and of course, I gave the general manager hell. I’m like, “Where are the women in this store? I’m here to buy a Porsche.” I was … I was there to visit. “Where are the women?” I want to choose, and my mind automatically goes to, “What’s wrong with this place? How come women don’t want to work here?”

Brian Benstock: I think what we’re saying is, women might not necessarily want to have a female salesperson, but when they walk in the store, they want to see a selection that includes females. Let’s just say you’re at a dealership in a city like New York City, and you walk in and there are all white people, or they’re all black people, or they’re all Chinese people. You can’t have it like that. You gotta have some diversity. I think a woman walking into a dealership and having a choice would make some feel more comfortable.

Jim Fitzpatrick: If it was Lisa Copeland Toyota tomorrow, how many, out of your 25 salespeople, how many would be female and how many would be male?

Lisa Copeland: 50%. I’m committed to it. I’m intentional about it. When I was a car dealer, those were my numbers. I stood on that. That was my platform and my battle cry. It paid off well for us because female consumers are very, very loyal and that’s of course, a whole other segment. It was intentional. It was not easy to find fabulous women and to keep them to keep their head in the game, and to keep them wanting to work the hours and all the things that Brian talks about, that are important to success in the automotive industry. 50/50.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know that we’re … And we’re running out of time here, and thank you so much for all the time you’ve given us today. We haven’t even touched on those opportunities that lie at the general manager, the general sales manager and above level for women in the auto industry, because it’s one thing to hire females on the showroom floor, and maybe in the F&I department and such, but it’s another to then promote those individuals to general sales manager and GM, and dealer principal. To have those people rise, those individuals, those very capable women, rise to that level. We just, still don’t see that in the industry as much as we should. You got to any state association and they’ve got all of their pictures of all of their directors and their dealers, and you’re like, “There’s one female out of 100. What are we doing?”

Brian Benstock: Jim, when I was in the Netherlands, the dealers group there was really segmented. It was male, white males, and I asked that question. And I asked that question. Lisa, you would have been proud. I said, “Where are the women over here?” I think that my steatoma has been removed, my blind spot has been removed. In fact, we were at a conference, Lisa and I, in Florida and they had me on a panel. I was sitting there with four or five other men on the panel. Some of the men on the panel were great, but there were some female dealers that were sitting in the audience, that deserved every bit as much as I deserved to be up there, they deserved to be up there. I asked the panel host, Glenn Lundy, I said, “Glenn, where are the females on this panel?”

Brian Benstock: I really didn’t want to put him on the spot, but I did. I said, “I’ll tell you what …” He pointed to a couple of people in the crowd. “There’s so and so and she’s great, and there’s so and so and she’s great.” The woman stood up and I said, “Here, take my seat on the panel.” I gave up my seat on the panel, really because of Lisa Copeland. Because of blind spots being removed. I’m like, “The only way that this stuff is going to get turned around is people that have some influence.” I think I have some, if we start giving up our seats.

Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s no question that Lisa-

Lisa Copeland: And Brian, I was at that conference, that was the classiest thing that I’ve ever seen a dealer do. The classiest.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I think, Lisa, the efforts that you’ve made already in the retail industry since you’ve been in it, and also been out there speaking about this very issue, has really taken it to the forefront. My hat goes off to you for a job well done, because at least you’ve got dealers now talking about it. To open up the dialogue. Obviously, with all your visits on CBT, which we’ve really enjoyed and gotten a lot out of, this has to be a continuing conversation. It can’t be a one and done. I applaud all of your efforts and certainly, Brian, you’re doing a great job in bringing women into your organization. That’s what we need to see more off. Obviously, that’s what today’s show is about.

Brian Benstock: I agree.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Lisa Copeland. Brian Benstock. I want to thank you so much for all of your time today to talk about this very important issue here on CBT News. We’re going to be talking about it more and more because it’s one that needs to be discussed, and action needs to be taken. I applaud you for being on the forefront of this issue. Hopefully, we can have you back to talk more about this at a later date.

Brian Benstock: Jim, for women in automotive, thank you for giving us the time. It’s through shows like this, and other things that you’re doing, that help get the word out. Little by little, this will become normal.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Lisa Copeland: Thank you very much, Jim.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thanks, guys.

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