-by Sally Whitesell for AutoSuccess Dealer Service Magazine.
In my two previous articles (Part 1 and Part 2), I shared the importance of creating the right environment for your female clients on the drive, in the waiting area and even in the restrooms. Why? Because women are the primary purchasers of almost everything! Decades of research has shown they make over 85% of all consumer purchases and influence up to 95% of all goods and services purchases in the US. In order to increase loyalty, sales, and customer satisfaction, we must begin to focus on this demographic that has been largely ignored by the automotive industry.
If you followed my prior advice, your store is clean and updated. Your waiting room has a warm and inviting environment, and is stocked with amenities. The music is upbeat; the television is on a positive, neutral station. The children have a place to play, and the Wi-Fi code is readily available without your clients having to ask.
Now, let’s talk about the important skills that must be mastered in order to communicate effectively to women. It’s no secret that men and women communicate and make buying decisions in different manners, yet gender-specific training is always a touchy subject. Keep in mind that most gender generalizations are based on about 80% of the population, and there will always be exceptions.
Women need to feel that you are listening. Men can have a conversation while they are working or doing an activity without looking at each other. But a woman will not “feel” you are listening unless you stop, look and listen. Most of us can recall our mother saying, “Look at me when I am talking to you!” Why? Because she wanted to be sure you were listening. Did you notice I used the word “feel?” You’re going to see it a lot in this article because women will not come back unless they feel completely comfortable in your store.
Women like reassurance. This is why women research an average of 2.3 online reviews before they decide on your store. Women need to feel that they are your priority and have come to the right place. One simple way to accomplish this is to simply tell them. In our training, we challenge every advisor to write his or her own “Reassuring Word Track.” Writing exercises will help your team think about the importance of communication while developing their own style. This word track should be delivered after the advisor listens to concerns and asks diagnostic questions. Use phrases that build confidence and value such as, “certified technicians,” “warranted parts” and simply, “I don’t want you to worry about this at all, you’ve come to the right place.” You can see clients relax when a confident, sincere advisor delivers these words.
Women are more relationship-based than transaction-based. This is also true of Millennials. The days of reciting a list of services are gone. Before an advisor can recommend services, they must take the time to build rapport and find out how she uses her car. Is it her family car, her daily commuter, or does she use it for business? By asking questions, we are showing interest in her and she will share a lot of important information we can use to personalize a benefit-based presentation. She will feel you are taking the time to see what’s important to her. Any time we can add personal touches, our presentation will be much more effective.
Women like explanations. You may not think women care about car details, but they are actually 3 times more likely to read their owner’s manual than men. As a woman in this business, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the “Did they rip me off?” phone call from girl friends. If the advisor had taken the time to explain the services more thoroughly, this question would never need to be asked. Keep in mind that your goal should not only be to sell more service, but to make sure every client feels completely confident with her purchase. It is imperative that we give simple explanations and make sure your guest understands what and why services are being recommended.
Here is an example of a personalized benefit based presentation. Notice how much more effective it is than, “Would you like to get your tires rotated, balanced and aligned?”
Ms. Customer, you told me how important this car is to you and your family, so rest assured that I will always let you know about any maintenance recommendations or concerns. During our walk-around, we both noticed that your tires are starting to show signs of uneven wear. You still have plenty of tread left at 7/32nds, so in order to make them last longer, we recommend doing a tire rotation, balance, and alignment. Your Certified Technician will remove all four tires and precisely balance each one. Then he will put the front tires on the back, and the back tires on the front. Next, he will perform a computerized alignment to set your car back to factory specifications. Every tire manufacturer recommends this tire maintenance package to get the longest life out of your tires, the smoothest ride possible and a better handling vehicle. I have kids too and I know a safe smooth ride is always important, right?
These services will only take ______ to perform and the complete cost is $X. Since this is more detailed than your original oil change, would you like to take advantage of the complementary shuttle service while we maintain your tires?
Did you notice the personal touches? By using information she shared earlier in our presentation, we are showing that we were listening, and her priorities were taken into consideration. There is also a simple explanation, a total cost, and an assumptive, yet convenient close. If you can teach your advisor to listen, reassure, build relationships, and give explanations, your female clients will become your most loyal clients and even more importantly, they will become an important part of your social network marketing as they tell all of their friends. Gender-based training is well worth your effort because: if you meet the expectations of women you will exceed the expectations of everyone!
Sally Whitesell is President of sw Service Solutions, which offers in-store training nationwide and Fixed Ops University; engaging online training for managers and service advisors. Sally brings over 21 years of on-the-drive experience to her training, seminars and books, which include her highly sought after “What Drives Women?” program and her book, “Words That Sell Service.”