How Dealers Reap The Benefits of Knowing What is Important to Women CPO Shoppers


Did you ever wish you could read a woman’s mind to know exactly what car and price range she is interested in when she enters your dealership?

Wouldn’t that make the selling process easier? Recent industry numbers highlight the power of women buyers and demonstrate what value they have to your dealership’s bottom line.

The Opportunity

  • Women spend over $300 billion annually at new car dealers on new and used cars, maintenance and service repairs.
  • Women account for and influence over 80 percent of vehicle purchases, including an average of 525 used vehicles at a dealership in 2011.
  • Car dealers sold more than 15.6 million used cars in 2011, which account for almost one-third of a dealer’s total sales volume.
  • Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle sales have risen 35 percent in the past decade. 
  • According to AutoTrader, over 60 percent of new car shoppers are more likely to consider a CPO vehicle today.

Now that we have established the opportunity, let’s take a look at six key characteristics that will help you and your staff relate to and understand your buyer quicker.

1. Browsing — The Silent Statistic

The browsing experience at the dealership is one of the top indicators whether a woman will actually buy from a particular dealership. If a woman comes into a dealership and has a good exchange, feels respected and listened to by the sales advisor — even if she is not ready to buy — there is a very high probability she will return. 

However, if she comes into a dealership and does not have a good experience, she will definitely not return. While the industry and dealers “know” this, the quantitative impact of lost sales due to a negative browsing experience has largely remained an unknown. is expanding its services to change this. Through reviews and analysis made available in the WSI, or Women Satisfaction Index Data reports, dealers can look at their specific key performance indicators to see what the best practices are, where they can improve and how they can convert more browsers to buyers. The business captures reviews from women in three categories – Browsing, Buying and Service.

With respect to browsing for used vehicles, the company reports that women have rated the brands* that have the highest WSI scores year to date. Mercedes leads all brands with a browsing score of 5.00, followed by Dodge 4.93, Chrysler 4.74, Chevrolet 4.72, Jeep and Lincoln 4.70, Buick 4.67, Hyundai 4.58, Honda 4.46; Mazda 4.00 rounds out the top 10 brands.

It remains absolutely critical for a dealer’s sales staff to treat and talk to each prospective customer with the utmost respect. Answer all questions and listen for concerns — including what she is not saying.

No arrogance or strong handing is required; this type of behavior by a sales advisor results in a defensive customer 100 percent of the time. Treat her like your mother — really.  

Talk less and listen more is the rule of thumb for a higher CPO sales conversion rate.

2. A New “Face” in the Audience

The traditional prospective female CPO shopper is married, and most have children. However, with marriage being postponed until later, coinciding with marriage rates dropping in the U.S., the new face of a CPO buyer also includes single women or single parent households with children.

According to a recent report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29.5 percent of all households are run by single parents. Most single women and single parents are on a fixed income and the only breadwinner in their household, making many a perfect candidate to buy CPO.

3. The Ideal Car Features for Women
When female CPO shoppers come into a dealership, they are usually looking to buy. They want:

  • A car that is easy to drive and one that looks good
  • A car that is economical and fuel efficient
  • Style and comfort
  • A car that is practical and functional
  • A good, hearty reliable vehicle
  • A car with little or no major repair costs, and Carfax facts

While price is the most important influence in their purchasing decision, women respondents at ranked these influences high on their list:

  • Style & Design: 47.31 percent
  • Dealership Service:35.82 percent
  • Safety: 30 percent
  • Space & Functionality: 27.16 percent

(Percentages add up to more than 100 percent as responders can submit multiple answers)

According to, female CPO shoppers “care more about a car's safety performance and incident history than they do about driving performance or aesthetics.” 

4. Value Women’s Time

These CPO shoppers are busy women who guard their time closely. If they find themselves in a car dealership, they are a serious buyer, not someone shopping for fun. Be sure to take their buying process seriously.   

Unlike her "traditional" male counterpart, rarely do women revel in the gamesmanship of buying a car. The days of being “held hostage” at the dealership for hours simply won’t fly anymore.

We believe that dealerships that employ a “Buy a Car in 90 minutes” promise will see an increase of women and men customers visiting their store.  

5. Women Wants and Demands Trust from Sales Advisors

When a woman shopper enters a dealership, she already realizes she has lots of other options available to her; but there she is in your store. What is essential from the get-go is having trust in her dealer.

And, trust and being trustworthy all starts with the sales advisor. Sales advisors have all the power – and, all the ability to muff it. 

The way they interact with her determines, in an enormous way, whether she buys and is loyal to your dealership once the purchase is complete. reviewers listed these top four qualities they look for in a salesperson:

  • Trustworthy:57.61 percent
  • Respectful: 45.65 percent
  • Knowledgeable:38.59 percent
  • Likeable: 25 percent

(Percentages add up to more than 100 percent as responders can submit multiple answers)    
6. Time & Research – A Female CPO Shopper’s Greatest Assets  

Women are information-seekers. They love shopping for cars on the Internet and they do a lot of research online.  When they print out information from the Internet and are armed with quotes and information gained online, they are more confident in their car buying decisions.

The effect that the Internet has had on their interactions with car dealers doesn’t stop when they buy a car. Most women will write a review about their experience — your dealership may need to incent them by offering a coupon on future service work.

It’s a win-win for your dealership. In order to get the coupon, a review must be written; the coupon or discount on future work ensures to a higher degree she will bring her vehicle to your service lane. Brand reputation sites and reviews play a big part in your dealership marketing to future CPO prospects. Be sure to have the sales and service team actively ask for reviews.

*Some brands excluded from this list due to not having statistically significant data for browsing used cars.
Anne Fleming is president & car buying advocate at


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