Women visit 30 percent more dealerships than men prior to buying a car, according to a Women-Drivers.com study. Several reasons contribute to this difference. In a recent report from Kelley Blue Book, women are twice as likely as men to be undecided about which car they really want.
Added to this is the fact that women are less confident (38 percent) about car buying than men (58 percent), and take longer to make a decision (75 days for women versus 63 days for men).
One in 10 women know the exact vehicle they want, compared to one in five men. This means that when a woman is at a dealership, she may not be ready to make a buying decision. If a woman leaves a particular dealership, there is a 60-percent chance she won’t return.
The tendency for women to shop at more dealerships, coupled with the longer sales cycle and different buying criteria can be turned into an advantage for a dealership if the right steps are taken to meet the needs of this ever-growing segment of car buyers.
3 ways to help women choose the right vehicle
Women have different selection criteria than men when deciding on a car. Understanding the differences can help women reach a decision more quickly at your store, making it less likely she will feel the need to visit a competitor.
- Dealership websites are at women’s top of the list for car research. Understanding and targeting women’s needs can help them make quicker and more-informed decisions. For instance, a section on the dealer’s website that compares features are important to women, such as safety and durability, will steer a buyer toward a particular car.
- Kelley Blue Book’s study indicates that women are more interested in the practical aspects of a car. Women see a car as a way to get where they need to go, and are interested in durability, reliability and safety. Dealerships can focus on these aspects of a car on their website as well as in the showroom.
- Women are interested in getting the “exact vehicle they want,” whereas men are looking for the best deal. Sales advisors should place a high emphasis on understanding the features a woman is looking for, and finding the best match. Asking the right questions and engaging her will help a sales advisor understand a woman’s priorities.
4 ways to attract women to a dealership
Women have several choices when deciding which dealerships to visit. NADA reports that dealerships net profits have been flat for three years in a row due to such a competitive market. An astounding six in 10 women do not purchase from the dealership closest to their home.
- Women are 50 percent more likely than men to rely on car dealership reputation and they prefer reading reviews from women. A dealership will benefit from encouraging satisfied and happy women clients to write reviews. This has an additional benefit to a dealership, because women who are satisfied are more likely to leave a higher-scoring review.
- Because nearly one-third of women rate dealer’s websites as “unhelpful,” making sure that the website content appeals to women will keep them on the site longer and help speed a buying decision. This means knowing and highlighting what matters to women, such as durability, safety and economy, not just MSRP.
- Women rank “respect” and “trust” at the top of the list when it comes to working with a sales advisor. Customer excellence ranks higher in a purchase decision than finding the best price or deal. Creating a comfortable environment that establishes trust and respect makes the difference for sales now and in the future.
- Women now account for half of car purchases and influence up to 80 percent of auto-buying choices. According to a study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, women drivers now outnumber male drivers 105.7 million to 104.3. Understanding these statistics and reflecting them in your sales approach and process are important to foster an environment of trust and respect.
3 ways to ensure women buyers return to a dealership
The top reason women provide for not purchasing at a dealership on their first visit is that they are still shopping. However, only four in 10 of those “shoppers” who leave a dealership without buying a car return to the same dealership. Given that women shop at more than one dealership, it is important to create an environment that welcomes a return visit to your dealership.
- Establish trust and respect. Women place “respect” and “trustworthiness” as the top two reasons to buy from a sales advisor. Treating a potential buyer with respect and establishing trust at the outset of the sales relationship will create a positive environment, which in turn can increase a woman’s confidence in her buying decision. She will remember that trust and it will create a strong reason to return to your store.
- Understand what a woman buyer is looking for. During the initial visit, a sales advisor should ask the right questions to understand a woman’s priorities. Are certain features non-negotiable? If the right model and color are not available right away, can the right car be found? Taking the extra step toward finding the right fit can bring a buyer back to the showroom.
- Create an efficient buying process. Women nationally report that the average time spent purchasing a vehicle at a dealership is 3 hours and 20 minutes. Reducing this time lets women know you respect their time and creates a positive feeling that will encourage return visits, positive reviews and referrals.
Women have different selection criteria than men when deciding on a car. Understanding the differences can help women reach a decision more quickly, making it less likely she will feel the need to visit a competitor.
Editor's Note: Anne Fleming is president and car-buying advocate of Women-Drivers.com and a guest contributor to Auto Remarketing. She was also recognized as one of AR's 2013 Women in Remarketing.