Monday, Jul. 30, 2007, 08:00 PM UPDATED 11:59 AMBy Nick Zulovich
ATLANTA — Although women have a lot of power when it comes to purchasing vehicles, there are not a lot of resources specifically geared to help females feel comfortable with process of buying a car, explained Sheronde Glover, founder and chief executive officer of Car-Buy-Her.
She came to that conclusion herself back in 2003 when she went looking for a new vehicle.
"In mid 2003, I found myself in the car-buying market," Glover explained. "It was during this time I received some revelation. I realized that although I had control of both my personal and professional life, I had very little control over my car life.
"The two-month journey was both challenging and liberating. During this time, I found myself engrossed in learning everything I could about buying a car. I went to auctions, dealerships, searched the Internet, purchased trade magazines and talked to as many folks as I could as I searched and searched for a car."
While at first feeling overwhelmed by all the information and things she needed to learn, Glover said that by the time she was ready to make a purchase, she "felt on top of the world" because she understood the process and right questions to ask.
"I knew what to do and what to ask, and I didn't have to have a spouse, boyfriend, father or brother bridge the gap," Glover said.
After learning as much as possible and becoming comfortable with the process, Glover set out to share her knowledge with other women by creating .
She explains the endeavor as, "Our mission is to educate, connect and build relationships. We describe ourselves as the new voice for the female auto consumer because we can relate to you, and we definitely want to hear from you."
The site specializes in providing information, resources, advice from experts and recommendations, all specifically geared for females.
Tongue in cheek, the site's blog is dubbed Auto Estrogen. It covers everything from the latest seminar held for women by an AAA chapter to vehicle clubs specifically created for women and more.
In the blog, Glover relates a story she has heard fairly often in the industry. One of her friends decided she would like to work in the auto industry. She attended auctions with her husband and had strong sales experience, albeit not related to vehicles.
"The general manager reviewed her application and blatantly told her she wouldn't be interested in working there," Glover said. "The reason: The sales guys wouldn't work well with her, she'd be competing against them and it wouldn't be a happy environment.
"Wow! I was shocked. Pam, my friend, had never worked in car sales before, but she does have an extensive, results-oriented sales background and could easily hold her own on a car lot," she stressed.
"Several months later, a colleague relayed a similar story," Glover continued. "She had worked at a dealership for a very short time. Her summary: It wasn't a friendly environment."
How well is the auto industry handling diversity in the showroom?
"Walk into any dealership and you see one consistent theme," she highlighted. "The build of sales and management staff are male. You'd be hard-pressed to find one behind the receptionist desk, though. Why is that?
"Consider the fact that subtle stereotypical advertising like ‘Salesmen Wanted' versus ‘Salesperson Wanted' and you see the dilemma," she said. "Car-Buy-Her maintains its position that in order to build woman-friendly environments within dealerships, the auto industry needs to establish better diversity and recruitment programs that make the dealership both attractive and friendly for women."
Instead of just sharing her thoughts, Glover has launched programs to help dealers make a difference and better reach out to women consumers.
One such program is "The Woman-Friendly Seal of Approval." Another offering is a "Shifting Gears" seal, which is handed out to stores that join Car-Buy-Her's dealership network.
According to company officials, the seals and training can assist dealers in several ways:
—Help the company educate and prepare women to purchase.
—An opportunity to self-asses a store for woman-friendliness.
—Unbiased mystery shopper visit and report that includes recommendations.
—Certificate acknowledging a dealership as woman friendly.
—Advertiser listing and acknowledgement as woman friendly on Car-Buy-Her.com.
—Build better relationships with female consumers.
In order to receive a seal and become approved by Car-Buy-Her.com, a dealer is required to complete an application and self-assessment, along with proving he has been in business a minimum of five years. Additionally, the dealer must have no outstanding complaints with the Better Business Bureau, sign the Car-Buy-Her code of ethics and receive mystery shop, report and recommendations.
Executives pointed out that the seals are only effective for one year, and both are fee-based, with the cost depending on a dealer's revenue and number of locations.
"Dealerships earning an 85 or above (when mystery shopped) receive the Car-Buy-Her Premium Seal of Approval and are given top advertiser listing and special acknowledgement on our Web site," according to the company.
Officials went on to note that, "Statistics say that most people receiving bad treatment or service don't say anything about it to the company, but they do tell their friends and family. In addition, females are prone to walk out and seek services elsewhere."
The company also offers a training seminar, "How to Build a Woman-Friendly Dealership." Dealers who do not score well on the mystery shopper assessment can take the course to improve results.
The seminar covers:
—Marketing to women overview.
—Statistics and numbers on women shoppers.
—How women buy.
—What women want and expect from your dealership.
—Getting the sale without the reputation.
Car-Buy-Her Teams Up with AWARE
In recent news, Car-Buy-Her announced it has partnered with Americans Well-Informed on Automobile Retailing Economics to further educate females on the finance process.
The partnership allows the company to distribute AWARE's auto financing materials and information through Car-Buy-Her.com, public workshops, seminars and clinics for women.
"Partnering with AWARE allows Car-Buy-Her to double the knowledge for women consumers researching and needing information on auto buying," Glover explained.
"One of the biggest concerns women have when it comes to buying a car is the financing. By working with AWARE we are able to offer a more comprehensive educational program for women," she continued.
Eric Hoffman, a spokesperson for AWARE, added, "AWARE is pleased to form this partnership with Car-Buy-Her and believes that by working together, we will expand consumers' understanding of the vehicle financing process.
"Our research shows that women already are informed automobile shoppers," he said. "For example, more than 60 percent of women consumers say they will research financing options before purchasing their next cars. And while this is good news, it's our hope that by empowering consumers with tools, resources and vehicle financing information, we can continue to build upon the positive trends women are exhibiting in the automobile financing process."
For more information about Car-Buy-Her, visit the site, or call (770) 210-0726.