My background involves many years in sales and many years of guilt, mainly due to stereotyping customers—especially females. Although I too am a woman, more often than not I (now remorsefully) would size up potential female customers as soon as they walked into our door. In essence I would use my own judgmental process and immediately assume a stereotype based on a few below characteristics (mainly based on gender) and many ingrained societal stigmas.
Age—Was the customer young and naïve or old and feeble?
Looks—Blonde bimbo or mousy homebody?
Uneducated (in automotive/mechanics)— Can I speak in jargon to make something sound better than it is?
Easy Sell—Does she seem like a pushover?
Prey—Can I hunt then attack, because she is a she?
Kids in tow—‘Just a housewife’, what would she know?
General disrespect such as talking down to customer.
If a male were viewed and treated poorly due to an above preconceived judgment would a sale likely occur? If it did would he be inclined return for another vehicle later on?
Whether in an automotive dealership, parts, service, or body department, the ‘cradle to grave’ marketing leading to repeat customers will not be effective to retain any client if they are not treated respectfully.
Tips to gaining a grateful lifelong customer—immediate change
Address us as ladies, even if we have kid stains on our shirt.
Have a helpful approach and not a ‘you are wasting my time approach’, especially when they have questions or concerns.
Give space; no stalking.
Follow up with us after the sale to maintain the spirit of helpfulness and caring…plus we won’t feel like we spent our money and then got dumped.
When women are being treated a certain way due to a negative stigma they will sense it, and will not like the salesperson now or later for it. Plus it is guaranteed that we will be facilitating water cooler conversations about our experience at work and many other venues. Why? Because ladies look out for each other and will share the type of service/treatment they received. In essence, poor treatment (especially when based on stereotyping) will reflect poorly on the dealership as a whole, is a guaranteed way to lose a potential lifelong customer, and will surely keep other ladies from even considering a visit a location.
For most of us, car buying is hard enough. It’s worse when one adds negative gender-based discrimination into the mix. Those who realize the importance of quality care and respect for all will surely be the dealers who reap the monetary rewards.
How to reach customers by making the long term change
Be committed to changing the staff’s personal views regarding females while the executives lead by example.
This process begins with respect and by treating ladies as one would want their own female family member to be treated. Kindness and at times sensitivity really do go a long way.
Part of respecting is to listen, look out for and address a lady’s potential needs. If someone is looking out for us, it shows caring and commitment to us as a person, not just as a customer.
Good treatment goes a long way, just like it would in any other type of relationship or business partnership. Great treatment builds trust. If we trust you, we will be back—and so will the gals from the office, their husbands, and extended family members. Ladies will insist to others which dealership is the only one worth visiting.
Those dealerships, leaders, and teams who recognize the empirical statistics that prove females make up more than half of large purchases (and adapt accordingly by wiping out stereotyping), will be the ones who can count on many golden years of profit and longevity.
Diana Merrill Claussen has been a journalist for over a decade and gained her appreciation for all things ‘motor industry’ from the racers and aviators in her family. To view more of Diana’s work please visit; www.AutoGoddess.com.0
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