By Jody DeVere, Special to Tire Business
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2015) — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Despite the prominence of leadership roles, women only hold about 25 percent of jobs in the motor vehicle and parts industry as of late 2014.”
For sales positions the figure is considerably lower, as a high percentage of the few women who work in this industry are in fact employed in service, clerical and finance positions — and not in customer-facing or leadership positions. Considering that statistics indicate women influence 85 percent of all automotive purchases, tire dealers and tire manufacturers should be jumping all over this obvious in-our-face opportunity.
We must simply attract and employ more women.
If you have been following the developing trends in the automotive business, you've probably noticed that those automotive organizations that make a concentrated effort to attract and employ women in their ranks are excited about their realization of considerable returns in both increased business and ROI (return on investment).
Profit margins have gradually slimmed over the past few years — much as a result of intelligent and increased access by consumers to actual tire costs, among other things. There are a growing number of consumer organizations that also promote direct information access to these actual costs.
As a result, these reduced margins have made it imperative to seek out new opportunities for business that will bring accompanying income and profit. One of most obvious opportunities for this lies in the process of recruitment and placement of women into the industry.
As much as we desperately need more women in this highly volatile and necessary industry, tire dealers and tire makers simply are not doing a good job recruiting women. It is not immediately clear why, but we can surmise that any or all of the following might be legitimate reasons:
- There may still be a lingering traditional resistance at the executive manufacturer level — or the tire dealer level — toward having women become a major part of this still male-dominated workplace.
- Tire dealership decision-making management may not be watching trends showing this opportunity.
- Management and owners may not have the desire or courage to try something new, and may display reluctance to venture into new programs out of their range of experience.
- Existing management may simply not have the knowledge and expertise in redesigning their organizations for marketing to attract and hire women — and initialize training and financial incentive programs to make this happen.
- Management may not want to make the minimum monetary investments to make this happen, and are reluctant to do so.
- There may not be a clear realization of the top reasons why women might consider joining this industry, including providing genuine “challenge” positions and equal monetary opportunities.
- Management may not have administrative and sales positions in place with women occupying them that set examples for motivation toward developing programs that will further this.
- There are few educational programs in place in our national educational system that have curricula involving sales and management in the tire and automotive industry. This is resulting in less emphasis on participation in the industry as a “career.”
- Many are leaning on “difficult economic” conditions as an excuse. This is not an excuse.
- Women still have a bad taste in their mouths because of poor treatment and bad experiences from their last visits to a tire dealership or auto service shop.
All those factors might seem overwhelming, but they really aren't. It may seem like a lot to overcome, but I think with a concerted effort all these considerations can easily be overcome. We in the industry just have to take it one step at a time.
So how do we make this happen? To me, here are the most obvious solutions:
- Re-examine our businesses and models to address elimination of restrictive traditional procedures we may have in place.
- Assign personnel to investigate all applicable trends and new directions in the marketplace.
- Get off our chairs and try new methods. Explore new methodology. Eliminate procedures that are in place just because they have been in place. Be courageous.
- Employ marketing individuals and groups that have expertise in marketing to the women's market, and visit women's websites — such as askpatty.com — that implement helpful and inspirational women's auto topics. Try Googling topics having to do with women in the auto industry.
- Re-examine the positions in your company that can effectively interest and challenge women and encourage not only their entry into the industry but interest them in making it a career.
- Re-examine your compensation incentives and adjust them to take into consideration the primary needs of women as permanent, long-term employees.
- Encourage and push our educational institutions to provide realistic training at all levels for the tire industry, including manufacturing and design, executive and regional management, marketing and sales, service and inner business participation.
We just can't wait any longer. Let's get more professional women into place in this industry.
Jody DeVere is CEO of AskPatty.com Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She contributes periodic opinion pieces to Tire Business.