Want to sell service more successfully to women customers? Then begin by recognizing that they often view service very differently than men do, sources said. The industry estimates I have read state that women purchase 60-65 percent of all automotive services. Clearly, that's a majority share service personnel cannot ignore.
In my last column, I discussed how a California service shop owner is boosting customer relations with local women by hosting automotive information clinics specifically for them.
This time, I'll share the insights of a savvy service manager (referred to as ``SSM'') who's built a solid track record cultivating business from women motorists.
I intentionally put SSM on the spot by asking him to list the key differences he's found between a man's and a woman's approach to buying service.
Doing this requires making some generalizations and some may not be, as the saying goes, politically correct. But all men and women are not the same.
By the same token, no one can make such a list without generalizing to some extent, he said.
Regardless, I believe his experience will benefit all service personnel.
Overall, women are much more cost-conscious and much less quality-conscious than men are, he said. Consequently, women price-shop much, much more than men do and perceive a need to save money. Listen to groups of women in any social setting and you'll hear them boast about the deals they got recently on food, clothing, jewelry, etc., he commented.
``On the other hand, when's the last time you heard a guy bragging to his pals about the deal he got on a pair of blue jeans?'' SSM asked. ``It's rare.''
Also, women price shop more by telephone than men do because they tend to lump auto repair into the same common-commodity category as food and clothing.
The average invoice for a male motorist tends to be higher than that of a female, he said.
Not only do men usually spend more money—they also make quicker decisions about spending that money.
``Women crave consensus, and getting a consensus doesn't lend itself to closing a service sale neatly and quickly," SSM explained.
Women are more likely to postpone a sale because they want to discuss it with their husbands, friends or co-workers; men are less likely to wait to get a wife's approval.
Whatever you do, don't wait for a woman to call back with an authorization when the vehicle is already on the lift.
``If you don't hear back from her promptly,'' SSM said, ``take the initiative in calling back or that car could be on the lift all day!''
Selling to women often takes much longer because they tend to be less mechanically curious than men are. Women usually need more explanations, more show-and-tell technique to become comfortable with what service personnel are presenting, he said.
Going strictly by the numbers, then, selling to women is less productive than selling to men because it can take so much longer to close the sale.
Unfortunately, women also negatively influence shop productivity because they don't value service and maintenance as much as men do, SSM asserts. ``I kept a database while doing a study over a several-month period,'' he said. ``The numbers showed that women missed appointments three times as often as men!''
This apparent capriciousness about automotive appointments can wreak havoc on a conscientious boss who's trying to keep his store's bays busy and his technicians happy, he added.
Some service personnel try to anticipate this by doing what some dentists do: Make telephone reminder calls in advance to customers known to be forgetful.
The bright, refreshing side to selling women is that they aren't ashamed or hesitant to ask the proverbial ``dumb car questions.''
In conclusion, SSM urges readers to arm themselves with the best cutaways, show-and-tell props and sales support literature they can find.
Without these items and a generous helping of patience, you really aren't prepared to sell to women.