Apple Growth Partners

Transforming the Automotive Industry Through Empowering Women

By Bethany Dria, Senior Associate

Despite ride-share services, like Uber and Lyft, shifting how people are transported place to place, car ownership is still on the rise, including the demand for used vehicles. Car dealerships should evolve the sales process to different audiences, including generational and gender differences, in response to the consumer’s continued need for reliable transportation. For example, millennials are graduating college with more debt than previous generations and may not afford the top-of-the-line car out the gate.

A major gap in the car sales process comes in gender differences. A recent study published by Automotive News reports women make 85 percent of the buying decisions, and a whopping 74 percent feel misunderstood by dealers. There is no doubt women are key influencers in household decisions, but a major gap exists from the front lines of most car dealerships. However, both the CEO and CFO of General Motors (GM) are female, so why aren’t women represented in the showroom? Imagine the endless possibilities of a dealership that staffed mostly women in sales positions that could significantly connect with the majority female of clients that walk in.

Our firm is committed to growing local businesses, and for more than 75 years, a pillar industry our team has served has been automotive dealers across Northeastern Ohio. We are committed to helping our clients grow and diversify their workforce to represent their target audiences better. For our automotive clients, here are some key takeaways from Women Impacting Dealerships by Automotive News to get more women on the showroom floor to represent the bulk of your decision makers.

  1. Move away from solely commission-based wages to consistent pay and competitive benefits.
  2. Promote flexible work schedules that attract female sales professionals and encourage weekends off to allow more time at home with family.
  3. Consider if your dealership’s employees exhibit unconscious biases that would turn off potential female employees. Collaborating with a local career coach can help identify potentially toxic behavior and implement strategies to curbing this behavior.
  4. Ramp up your Human Resources team to ensure confidential support and reporting mechanisms are in place.
  5. Invest in female-based leadership programs geared for the automotive industry. Automotive News has a Leading Women Conference for both male and female professionals to discuss issues impacting women in the automotive industry.

Our firm has made significant changes to acclimate our benefits to meet the needs of female employees and recruits. In the last year, we’ve implemented a paid parental leave program and flexible hours for employees during our busiest time of year. Executive leadership and management have communicated the benefits of flexibility in the workplace, stepping away from a micromanaging model and trusting professionals to get their job done at the time, and location, that works best for their work/life balance.

There aren’t many industries where the majority of buyers do not feel represented by the sales force. Women need representation. But hiring women in a typically male-dominated field without changing the dealership’s models will not solve the problem. It all starts with your dealership’s leadership and committing to including women in the sales model and workforce structure. Plugging into female-led professional associations and publications can also provide insight into evolving your dealership.

Don’t waste an opportunity to capitalize on the primary buyers of vehicles by actually offering them representation and services that meet their needs.