Guest post by Joni Stuker, CEO, Owner Connect

Women influence the majority of all car buying decisions, so why aren’t they more present within dealership personnel?

Our world is rapidly changing and advancing, yet, in the area of women employed at a car dealership our numbers are rather stagnant.

Why is this the norm? Is it because most dealers have done very little to encourage any movement? Are dealerships simply talking about wanting to change, but simply using the words without action?

It is beyond time for dealerships to look within their “four walls” and take the necessary steps towards achieving this important goal. Let’s start by taking at a look at environment. Does your dealership host a male dominant atmosphere? One where a female could feel potentially awkward in? Do you have salespeople still huddled at your entrance? Let’s face it, no one feels comfortable approaching a small gang when looking for a career opportunity, let alone if buying a vehicle.

Does your dealership offer a flex schedule? One that is going to attract a broader range of candidates from all backgrounds. Have you considered the possibility of job sharing? Consider setting a unique avenue of job sharing. If in sales, this would equate to splitting commissions and daily tasks, but also ensuring a potential greater balance between home and work.

Take a moment to really look at how your dealership currently outlines a clear pathway for career advancement. If you have a talented receptionist, can they see a way to stay long term at your store and grow? Or does their role appear to be somewhat dead ended?

What training to do you provide for each department? You need to ask yourself if the training is something that you provide repetitively, or on a one-time basis? Does the training you provide devote a significant amount of time within one key area? If so, remember that effective training must be well rounded.

How are you currently recruiting? Do you utilize your circle of influence? In other words, do you look for employees via current employees’ assistance? Have you reached out to your daily service customers and attached a notice of opportunity to each receipt? During your customer appreciation events, do you provide notice of the career opportunities? If not, these are excellent places to begin.

To bring dealership-wide career awareness, implement a monthly meeting for current employees. Be sure to have a department head present and allow casual conversation regarding growth. Remember, people need to see and hear that they are not only valued but that there is a next step. This will also open a much broader inter-departmental communication path. Too often, we fall into the “left hand-right hand” category. One where the other side has no idea of how or if they can assist.

Learn that the first step is taking an honest look at yourself and your dealership. With this look, determine if you are truly willing to make the necessary changes to grow with in this area. If you take on the steps outlined above, you will learn how to retain and attract more women into working at your dealership–yes, those powerful women that directly influence your sales and service business.

I wish I could repeat the number of times I have had an auto dealer tell me how they wanted to “fill their sales staff” with women employees. Well, if you follow what I outline, you can!

Don’t shy away from or ignore the obstacles–identify, change and grow!

Joni Stuker presented the panel discussion “Create a Culture to Win with Women” at the 2016 NADA Convention and Expo. Download her still-timely handout from the workshop: Create a Culture to Win with Women.

Note: This post has been updated from its original version, published 02/08/16. The views and opinions presented in this educational program and any accompanying handout material are those of the speakers, and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of NADA. The speakers are not NADA representatives, and their presence on the program is not a NADA endorsement or sponsorship of the speaker or the speaker’s company, product, or services.

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