BROADENING the mix of people in a business has a measurably positive impact on the bottom line.
Management consultancy McKinsey & Company’s Diversity Matters 2018 study found a clear link between racial and ethnic diversity and improved financial performance. In the UK, for every 10% increase in diversity of the senior executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBITDA) rose by 3.5%, the consultancy found.
And nowhere is that more evident than when selling to women car buyers. The findings of an Auto Trader-commissioned OnePoll that looked at women buyers’ in-dealership experiences reveals seven compelling reasons why it makes sense to recruit from the widest possible pool – ensuring that your team mix is best-suited to thrive in the midst of unprecedented levels of change in the dealership world. These are:
- More than a third of cars owned by UK residents are officially owned by women (women owned 11.8m of the total of 30.9m in 2017), and female car ownership has grown at nearly three times the rate of male car ownership (66% versus 23%) since 1996 – within 10 years there may be more cars owned by women than by men.
- The OnePoll survey found that 35% of women who visited a dealership noticed there were very few, if any, female salespeople/front office staff. This lack of same-gender assistance left 13% of female respondents finding their in-dealership experience ‘uncomfortable’.
- 15% of women in the same poll said that the dealer salesperson they encountered didn’t acknowledge them at all, but preferred to engage with the man if they arrived with a male partner or friend.
- The survey found also that hyper-masculine advertising and marketing left 87% of UK car buyers feeling disconnected from automotive brands – 65% of the 2,000 car buyers interviewed said they found gender stereotypes in car advertising ‘off-putting’.
- The nature of car selling in dealerships is changing, and women bring different skills and increased versatility to the sales value mix. A more consultative-selling approach is being adopted in some dealerships where product ‘geniuses’ are employed to talk would-be buyers through the array of F&I products, vehicle options and other add-ons. Strong interpersonal skills, patience, versatility, presence in front of customers, and tenacity are some of the skills that auto recruitment agencies report are in hot demand.
- Forward-looking dealerships are beginning to recruit based on the changing matrix of skills needed for the business to appeal to today’s diverse car purchaser profile – whether those skills come from people with disabilities, from ethnic minorities, with different sexual orientations, with different faiths or beliefs.
- Success through change must be driven from the top: according to the Ennis & Co study of 75 senior executives involved in Diversity & Inclusion in their automotive sector firms, 71% already monitor and report on the diversity make-up of their employees. But just over half (51%) said they have active recruitment policies to achieve a diverse workforce. Systems for monitoring and measuring progress were even less commonly established.
While polls are indicative only, it’s clear that, at the very least, car dealerships which run a slide rule over the current gender mix of customer-facing roles, stand to win extra sales – and unlock some efficiencies along the way.