Can car dealers do better for women?

I have spent a lot of today looking at the findings of a survey we carried out in December last. It was to analyse member satisfaction levels with FOXY Lady Drivers Club but gave us the chance to ask what women drivers want when they go to buy a new car.

Almost half our sample took someone with them when they went to buy a new or used car in a car showroom and a significant number had felt patronised during the transaction.

I know it can be hard to get the balance right of providing enough but not too much information here. Sometimes I think that FOXY Lady Drivers Club doesn’t get this right for everyone when we hear from women who are expert DIY mechanics and can change their own tyres (whereas we take the view that the professionals are the better and safer choice) but I must admit to being surprised to find that very few females indeed wanted to see more females employed on the showroom floor.

I had imagined that, in the UK’s male dominated retail motor industry with a poor reputation for getting it right for women drivers, the thought of dealing with a female might have been reassuring. It seems not, certainly in this instance.

The trouble with research is that it always leaves me with a few ‘I wonder’ questions afterwards (I feel another survey coming on…).

For example,

I WONDER IF some women are so liberated that they want to be treated as honorary blokes in the motor industry, much as many of us try to be in our careers.

I WONDER IF some women realise that what matters most is the best person for the job and fear the token female, to be seen to please.

I WONDER IF the true beneficiaries of more females in the showroom (assuming they are among the brightest on the floor)might be the men who, we are told, feel happier buying from a female because they don’t have to pretend that they knew all the answers (which they just might have pretended to a male sales person).

But what I am absolutely convinced about is that the principles of honesty, fairness, open-ness and transparency are needed in car showrooms today in the same way as we need them in our garages when women shop for the likes of MOTs and car servicing.

Why should a motorist who buys a car at the end of a sales quarter or month get a better price than a motorist who paid her money a week earlier?

For example,

WHY should ‘she who shouts loudest’ get a better discount than she who didn’t dare do this?

WHY should a part exchange deal be so shrouded in secrecy so you can’t unpick the true cost of the car you bought?

WHY should motorists who take up a finance deal do better than she who wants to pay cash?

WHY do so few used car dealers give a full year’s warranty on the car they are selling?

So many more questions but I may be losing the plot and it has been a long day…

What the FOXY research taught me was that many foxy ladies are aware of this unfairness and are shopping for the best new car deal online before EITHER going to their nearest car dealer/dealership OR cutting out the middle man and buying from a discount car supermarket or website.

Yet the dealers have so many female friendly services to promote, over and above what should be the natural appeal of a local business and a genuinely warm welcome.

But they need to get this right – no more patronising or overcharging females – tell us the truth, give us a fair price and don’t try to baffle us or pretend you know more than we do.

The survey put price at the top of the critical shopping factors, as you’d expect in this recession, followed by running costs and then safety. But what women really want is a clear offer – a fixed price from the outset including clearly defined benefits.

Then there’d be less dissonance post sale and less stress if we leave the showroom in the hope he’ll phone back later and do a deal.  No Arthur Daley or Swiss Toni tactics either. Tell us the truth, spell out the finances, make more of the local convenience factor and make her feel special, never a muppet.

I think it’s easy to be a female friendly car dealer providing the business wants to be one. All you have to do is live up to the female friendly FOXY Promise and you’re half way there. That and do a competitive analysis of your strengths and weaknesses.

You might be surprised to find what your competitive marketing advantages when you look at promoting your business to women drivers online.

Some businesses do it brilliantly already – is yours listed by FOXY Choice – that’s a good start?

Happy to help guys.

FOXY