I must begin by first clarifiying the decision I made to use the word "Genius" in my title referring to women...I know men are very intelligent too; however, in my attempt to use a word that rhymes with "Venus", I thought "Genius" was the best choice...LOL.

Now, the point I am hoping to make here in this discussion is factual.  Speaking in generalities, historically, the male gender was introduced and exposed to automobiles at an early age... While little girls were playing with dolls, boys were collecting Matchbox cars...Right?  Known fact!  Dad would be found under the hood of his family car on a Saturday morning, inviting the curious son to take a look at 'what makes the car go', while the daughter was playing jump rope in the driveway or helping mom bake a cake.  As the child moved on to high school years, boys were encouraged to enroll in an auto mechanics course while girls were steered in the direction of home economics...Fact?

With this history in mind, there is no question as to how the car business evolved into becoming the most male dominated industry!  But "guys"...Times...they are a-changin'...People... are changing faster than I can type these words on my keyboard!  When is the dealership culture going to hurry up and adapt to what today's consumer wants, needs, and demands???  The old SOP, Standard Operating Procedures from the 70's and 80's which are still being practiced in today's dealerships have to cease.  And by "change" I mean a whole lot more than learning to listen and speak to women, or how to properly treat an internet lead, or having a "presence" on facebook, or placing a woman in the Finance Office because she tends to show more empathy and compassion when accomadating a client's requests... This is about top to bottom, changing the environment from the "good ole boys" club in the showroom, to properly utilizing a BDC, to offering split shifts or job-sharing to attract more men and women alike who realize their family life will suffer by choosing a career in the car business!  This means a complete overhaul in our negotiation procedures, word tracks used, advertising venues, means of communication, and a whole lot more!  

The introduction to the BDC's in the 80's invited women to get involved in telemarketing and various reach-out programs within the dealership which led to sales positions.  Women's "genius" minds then gentlely attempted to deter their male leaders away from the SOP, (Standard Operating Procedure) way of doing business, with not a whole lot of success, unfortunately.  My point is, we cannot place crisp, fresh-minded, current men and women into positions at the dealership, without changing the culture and expect our crisp, fresh-minded current consumers to respond in a positive fashion!  Everything needs to change!  Would love to hear all your thoughts on this...Men and Women alike!!!

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I just wanted to comment on the amazingness of the title of this blog.
Thanks Katie... I thought I might be dodging rocks from our gentlemen friends... LOL

Katie Colihan said:
I just wanted to comment on the amazingness of the title of this blog.
Nancy, I'd hug you if you were nearby.  You have said what I've been thinking for a long time.  Everything in business flows from the top down.  It would be a complete transition of our industry if we had a sudden influx of women in key roles like GM and DP.  I think it would be amazing to have a women-run store one day.  Maybe clone it over and over again.  This isn't meant to exclude men, we just need better traction if we are going to generate an "influx" and a woman-run store would be a good start.  There may even be such a store in existence.  If there is, I would so love to talk to those gals!  You Rock Nancy, I'm with you all the way girlfriend!
Cathy...consider yourself cyber hugged!  Thanks for your supportive words... I felt my message was strong and a bit bold, but pheeeewwwwww...did that feel good!  Since the age of 20, I dreamt of owning and operating my own "totally female oriented" dealership....I tried to buy the Chevrolet store I was working in twice to no avail...Well, now I am 50....Perhaps it is still not too late!!!!  Thanks again!

Cathy Aron said:
Nancy, I'd hug you if you were nearby.  You have said what I've been thinking for a long time.  Everything in business flows from the top down.  It would be a complete transition of our industry if we had a sudden influx of women in key roles like GM and DP.  I think it would be amazing to have a women-run store one day.  Maybe clone it over and over again.  This isn't meant to exclude men, we just need better traction if we are going to generate an "influx" and a woman-run store would be a good start.  There may even be such a store in existence.  If there is, I would so love to talk to those gals!  You Rock Nancy, I'm with you all the way girlfriend!
I had an entertainment company for several years, and when I came to the car business I was immediately struck by many similarities--it was run by men, it was very good-ol'-boy networked, and a very large part of what a dealership does is put together from RELATIONSHIPS and not from business needs or marketing savvy. Some examples: A manager is hired because the new GM knows him and fired because he doesn't; a direct mail piece is tried because some buddy at another dealership "killed it" last month with "fifty cars" because of it; the newspaper ad stays and digital lags because the GM has known the rep for twenty years; etc.. As a good friend of mine put it, "Just because it's a dealership doesn't mean we can't run it like a business!"

This market is a living stereotype, really a living fossil, of how easy it was to gather some old high-school buds and sell what is in demand. With enough profit, you don't understand the mistakes you make. When the market gets tough, you don't want to change. When there is little brand loyalty any more, you don't seek to advertise. And when the profits finally die, then you die and are encased in the rock of your inability to change.

My life has brought me several careers, and I've worked for many women. I had one very bad woman manager during that time, and many, many, bad men managers. I'd work for a woman again in a heartbeat, because what Nancy is noting is, to me, both a reality of gender and an artifact of all these many decades of market neglect: We need a change and a new outlook, whether we had a business women had run and men were advancing into or whether it is as now where women are advancing into the dealership good-ol'-boy network. Add to that the unique gender perspectives that women bring, and i'd be excited to work at a dealership owned and operated by women.

More than that, I'd just like to see more women owners, managers, and salespeople. It will only do us good. Lots of good.
WOW Keith WOW!!!! What incredible insight....I think we (who have been brought up in the car biz) get so wrapped up in the "norm" and habit instilled through years of repetitive practices, we lose sight of the big picture...through the eyes of the consumer!  I love your comments and I applaud you for your ability to take the omnicient view!

Thanks Nancy.  Some of that is certainly my personal view, but it's also born from the reaction when I came to the car business years back.  I'm was in my 40's, I'd owned my own businesses, succeeded in high-tech, been a consultant to Fortune 100 companies, etc.  And I'm fairly smart, having seven of my high-tech years with Microsoft.  And yet when I came to this business I ran right into the GOBN (Good Ol' Boy Network)--and, so, I use that to relate to how a woman might feel in this business.  She can have lots of experience IN this business, but she's devalued too often because of gender (e.g. not part of the GOBN); I had lots of experience elsewhere that has now led to success in this business, and yet all that was at first devalued because of the GOBN.  And so there seems some similarities.

 

Here's an example of the limitations of the GOBN that I've seen first-hand, not for women, but for this business:  Four male GMs were in a failing store, placed there in series over several years from the GOBN by the male owner who was trying to turn the store around.  Didn't work.  The current GM is a woman, who nearly immediately put a new pay plan on the floor that said if you don't use CRM, log your calls and ups, etc., you do NOT GET PAID.  The salespeople groused loudly, some left, and yet after some salespeople got a 0$ paycheck to take home . . . the store began to turn around and is now in the black.

 

Wow, did the salespeople (men AND women) call this GM names.  And yet, now, the store has more traffic and they make more money than before.

 

That won't always happen, of course.  But this one was obvious . . . except to those in the GOBN.

Actually, I'm hereby coining a new acronym.  If "Good Ol' Boy Network" is GOBN, then "Good Open Women Network" is . . . wait for it . . . 

 

GOWN!

 

Why not?


Keith Shetterly said:

Thanks Nancy.  Some of that is certainly my personal view, but it's also born from the reaction when I came to the car business years back.  I'm was in my 40's, I'd owned my own businesses, succeeded in high-tech, been a consultant to Fortune 100 companies, etc.  And I'm fairly smart, having seven of my high-tech years with Microsoft.  And yet when I came to this business I ran right into the GOBN (Good Ol' Boy Network)--and, so, I use that to relate to how a woman might feel in this business.  She can have lots of experience IN this business, but she's devalued too often because of gender (e.g. not part of the GOBN); I had lots of experience elsewhere that has now led to success in this business, and yet all that was at first devalued because of the GOBN.  And so there seems some similarities.

 

Here's an example of the limitations of the GOBN that I've seen first-hand, not for women, but for this business:  Four male GMs were in a failing store, placed there in series over several years from the GOBN by the male owner who was trying to turn the store around.  Didn't work.  The current GM is a woman, who nearly immediately put a new pay plan on the floor that said if you don't use CRM, log your calls and ups, etc., you do NOT GET PAID.  The salespeople groused loudly, some left, and yet after some salespeople got a 0$ paycheck to take home . . . the store began to turn around and is now in the black.

 

Wow, did the salespeople (men AND women) call this GM names.  And yet, now, the store has more traffic and they make more money than before.

 

That won't always happen, of course.  But this one was obvious . . . except to those in the GOBN.

Please check out http://www.dealerelite.net/forum/topics/the-good-ol-boy-network-gobn for some thought I think blend with Nancy's.  ThanksW
Great idea to create a gals acronym Keith! It's refreshing to see a man's perspective on this, from someone outside of the GOBN loop.
Thanks Cathy!  See http://www.dealerelite.net/forum/topics/the-good-ol-boy-network-gobn for some more of my thoughts that seem to blend with Nancy's great topic.  Just wrote it today after her post got me thinking.

Cathy Aron said:
Great idea to create a gals acronym Keith! It's refreshing to see a man's perspective on this, from someone outside of the GOBN loop.
I like it!!!! At least it is not Savy Knowledgable Innovative Reliable Tenacious Saleswomen! (SKIRTS)

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