Women are very important consumers. Never forget that

The year is 2016 and I’m writing about the importance of recognizing and respecting women who walk into a dealership to make a purchase. I find it unfortunate that this subject still needs to be discussed as women possess a tremendous amount of purchasing power. Women are significant contributors to society and to the economy, having positions from the barista at your favorite coffee shop to CEO’s of corporations and everything in between, so why do some dealerships still treat women as second class citizens when they visit their store?

A good friend of mine wanted to trade in her motorcycle and upgrade to a larger model. She had her eye on a particular brand so she went to visit the local dealer. She walked around the showroom, checked out a few bikes but couldn’t get the time of day from a salesperson. She even noted that men who walked in after she did, were approached by sales staff. She walked out and bought from a different dealer, vowing to never go back to the original dealership.

A new business acquaintance recently told me about her recent experience trying to buy a car. The salesperson at the first dealership couldn’t remember her name and didn’t try and source the model, colour and features she was looking for, instead trying to sell her something she didn’t want. The second dealership also didn’t have exactly what she wanted but asked her to come back in a few days and they would have one brought in for her. When she came back, the salesperson called her by name, showed her the car she wanted… and she bought it. How hard was that?

A business will spend a lot of money on branding and marketing in order to draw more people to their dealership and increase sales yet some of these very same dealerships will lose potential customers and sales because they don’t give the respect due to their female customers. You can be sure that frustrating experiences that women have in your store will be told to countless others which will cost you even more money and lost potential sales.

My experience has been in the RV, Marine and Powersports industries and I think we all need to appreciate the strong consumer purchasing influence women have. Women who ride motorcycles continue to grow so why wouldn’t you make a point of catering to that growing segment. I can’t recall ever hearing a woman in a showroom say “I have to talk to my husband first”.  Think about it…

The successful salespeople at the dealerships I’ve worked at recognized that when a couple visits the store, more time and conversation was focused with the woman. Why? The woman has purchasing influence. The guy already wants a boat or RV but the woman holds influence with a major purchase so it’s important to focus on the woman and show how the purchase improves personal time, family recreation or any other needs discovered during conversation.

A number of years ago while working as a DSM for Kawasaki, I recognized that women’s riding was growing in the industry and realized that we needed to be a part of that growth. With the help and support from Jim Roth of Cycle Works Group, Mark Bogusky of Chrome Marketing and the encouraging support of Laurie Paetz, show manager with Power Sport Services, we were able to introduce the concept of “She rides night” to the Edmonton Motorcycle Show. The concept promotes and recognizes women’s riding and encourages women to visit the show on Friday night at a reduced price and enter a draw to win the grand prize of a motorcycle. It was a great success so the event was then introduced in Calgary and I’m proud to say that this event is now being held at all national motorcycle shows across Canada. Any dealership can show support and recognition for anyone who rides.

Recognizing, welcoming and respecting the female consumers who walk through your door can and will create loyal customers. Watch your staff and see how they interact with female consumers. Ensure that your staff understands that everyone who walks through the door deserves the attention required for a positive customer experience. Everyone wins.