As part of Women's Month here on dE, I thought it would be fun to hear from the ladies and learn how you actually got started in this crazy business of ours! For most, we stumble into it and awake one day to find it (the car biz) under our skin and running through our veins!
I am certain we will hear a vast array of interesting stories, but looking forward to listening to each and every one! (Thanks Stephanie for friend requesting me today and asking me how I got involved in the business...You gave me the idea).
20something years ago, I applied at a local Ford store to sell. The sales manager politely turned me away. On my way out the door, a salesman stopped me and suggested that I return in a few days and reapply. I did and was turned away again. That same salesman caught up with me in the parking lot and explained that he would be moving soon and his position would be open so he gave me a quick life lesson: "be tenacious, don't give up, be tougher that any guy they know, and keep coming back til they hire you". On my third visit with the salesmanager, he relented and told me that if I wanted to sales cars at that dealership then I would need to talk with the dealer. He informed me that a month or so earlier, a young female salesperson at another store in town had disappeared and that he just didn't want to be responsible for a girl (I know I know). So, I meet the dealer and for an hour or so I listen to him tell me why women shouldn't be in sales. I quess since I kept sitting there, he caved and hired me anyway.
Within 6 mos in sales, I was promoted to Finance Manager. It took me a year or so to learn finance and turn the department around but soon the store had record grosses/penetration for that department.
3 1/2 years after interviewing with that dealer, I married his son (who had became the dealer/GM). When I took over as GSM, my father-in-law commented that a girl could never manage a team of salesmen. Granted I had to dismiss almost all of the existing sales team and hire/train, but within months our sales had tripled. I won many Ford and Toyota contest and received great gifts for men like tools, men's watches, men's jackets/shirts etc. Our store was a success model so in 2001, my husband sold the store to pursue other interest.
In 2002, I opened an independent dealership which rivals the volume of the new car stores in my area.
I have never felt discriminated against because I have always believed that I could do anything. Excellence is not gender biased!
It's amazing how as women in a field mostly dominated by men, I still always see the "cliche" car salesman down the road and I'm so thankful because that's my competition! :)
Michal Ann Benedict Enders said:
26 years ago I was going out with the girls hitting the hot spots. I frequently ran into a persistant, obnoxious, self absorbed car salesman who bought me drinks and told me how fabulous he was every time I ran into him.
Me- no $
Him- Big wad of cash
Me- 1975 Malibu with the hood of an ElCamino (diffent color) tied down, and red tape over the broken taillight
Him- Brand New Mustang
Me - nice
Him - Not nice
It seemed so obivous to the 22 year old me. If he was doing it I should be doing it.
I answered an ad in the paper. They kept breaking the appointments saying they were too busy to talk. I would keep calling and coming in because I actually didn't realize they were just trying to get rid of me. I had no idea how few women sold cars. I also didn't know there was a difference between GM, Ford and Chrysler. I was blissfully ignorant and politely persistant. They thought I was the most aggressive applicant EVER, and hired me.