What’s the best way to find out what women want when they go to have their vehicle serviced? Ask them. The answers can go a long way toward helping dealerships attract and retain more women in the service lane. That’s critical, because there are more women on the road today than men, and women increasingly call the shots when it comes to household purchases. Isn’t it in your best interest to cater to them?
In order to gain insight into what women expect from their service lane experience, Dealertrack sat down with Anne Fleming, president and CEO of the women-focused dealer review website Women-Drivers.com, to share results of her company’s 2014 year-to-date survey results and tips for driving more women into your service lane.
DT: First, tell us a little bit more about your company and the dealership review process.
Anne Fleming: We’re the leading car dealer review service that connects women shoppers to Certified Women-Drivers Friendly® Dealers. Women review the dealerships and then we create Women Satisfaction Index (WSI) research reports that are used by dealer principals to evaluate KPIs for higher sales. Our value-add is that we include an optional survey with 25 additional questions about the shopping, servicing and purchasing process. Ninety-two percent of women answer these optional questions, so we have this treasure trove of rich and robust data that takes the guesswork out of marketing to women.
DT: Why is it so important for a service department to cater to women?
AF: Women deliver an estimated two-thirds of all the vehicles brought in for a service, maintenance or repair. That’s huge. Women are choosing where to get their cars and their families cars serviced. It’s a no-brainer that service departments should appeal to women.
DT: According to your survey results, what are dealers doing right when it comes to attracting and retaining women service customers?
AF: More than 95 percent of women are very satisfied with the way they are greeted by the service advisor, which is excellent news. Service managers are on a tight rope to deliver for the dealership time and time again, and that’s no easy job. Having exceptional people on who that can communicate with a customer and make a connection is key.
DT: Should service people communicate differently with women?
AF: When you’re dealing with women, it’s not what we say but what we don’t say. We’re nice. And, if we have an unsatisfactory experience we’ll smile, placate you and then we’ll never come back. The survey shows us that 4 out of 10 women aren’t doing service business with the dealership where they bought their car. That’s a huge missed opportunity. Put your best listeners in the service department, and you’ll get more repeat business from women, which translates to selling more cars to them in the future.
DT: What about getting women in the door for that first service?
AF: Personal communication is really the key. And I don’t mean with the CSI. That can come off as coercive and intimidating because it’s all about the dealership and what the customer can do for the dealership. The communication needs to be about the customer and what she gets out of it. So for example, you send a personal note with a free car wash coupon. Or maybe there’s a link to tips for getting her car ready for the summer or must-have trunk staples for the winter. This is value-add stuff that’s not expensive for the dealership, but can make all the difference.
DT: What’s your biggest tip for earning women’s trust and business in the service drive?
AF: Invest in a multi-point, mobile inspection application that visually shows repairs with photos and diagrams. Look, a lot of women walk in cynically and with their guard up because they’re prepared to be ripped off or oversold. Using a tool with hard, visual evidence instantaneously creates a bridge between you and the customer by making everything clear and transparent. It’s a win, win, win! In our survey, a little more than 30 percent of the women said the amount they paid for a repair was not consistent with the estimate. That doesn’t breed trust. An inspection tool is a great first step toward building that trust.
Dealertrack can help dealerships get the most out of every customer visit to your service department with our powerful web-based multi-point inspection tool and shop optimization software – ASR Pro – that seamlessly integrates with Dealertrack DMS 2.0.