Did you see the recent article in Automotive Social Network? We’d like to think things like this don’t happen anymore; unfortunately, they do. Considering that female buyers now account for 54 percent of car purchases in the United States and Canada, now’s a good time to review sensitivity training at your dealership.

You can read the full Automotive Social Network article here, but below is a brief summary:

Stephanie, a lover of cars and an automotive executive for The Manus Group, was off to buy her first brand new car. Today is the day, she thought, I am walking out of this dealership with a car. When she arrived at the dealership, she instantly spotted the flashy new sports car she liked, toyed with the interior gadgets and marveled at her new “baby.” During this time, not one associate approached her to offer his/her service, so when she decided she would like to take the car for a test drive, she had to track down some help.

After being completely ignored by a male sales associate on the phone, Stephanie found the manager, hoping he could help. This man again pointed her back in the same direction. When the sales guy finally hung up the phone, he proceeded to ignore Stephanie and, instead, “talk cars” with a male friend that she had brought with her. Finally, instead of taking her straight to the vehicle she had her heart set on, he adamantly insisted that she consider the four-door sedans for “the children.” Stephanie didn’t have children; she was newly single and looking to start over.

After much frustration, she picked up her stuff and left, drove down the street and bought a similar model from the competition. The dealer that ultimately got the sale was one who treated her as a car buyer and not the stereotypical, vehicle-challenged woman.

With that story in mind, here are four things you can do to prevent something like this from happening at your dealership:

  • Consider getting your dealership Certified Female Friendly. AskPatty, creator of the certification, has a reputation of supporting female buyers and sellers in the industry by providing training, certification, marketing and advertising support to dealers looking to make a positive change in their dealerships when interacting with female buyers. Training covers everything from: how to sell to women; how to have a difficult conversation with them; how to aesthetically improve your dealership to appeal to the female eye; and how to communicate the important features of a vehicle in terms of her individual priorities.
  • Use a marketing consultant. Marketers are well-versed in identifying and communicating with different audiences. They can help you craft a sales message, give you basic information on the demographic and put together content that speaks to the unique audience better than most.
  • Reference female buying patterns. Recognize that male and female buyers are different. Women appreciate female-friendly advertising and signage, and employees that are able to give exceptional service to every single customer, regardless of gender. For women, buying is a process, one that takes time to research, analyze and then act upon. They are unresponsive to pressure sales tactics, must be taken seriously as buyers and must be respected by the salesperson when purchasing products.
  • Talk to a female friend. Ask her to relay her most recent experience in an auto dealership. What were some of the things that went well? What were things that went badly?

It never hurts to brush up on some of the best practices for providing a good shopping experience to all customers.

If you’re looking for more information specifically on how you can make your dealership female-friendly, visit the Female Friendly Businesses YouTube Channel.