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Boys will be Boy's at the Car Lot

By Guest Poster Jody DeVere - Ask Patty -- Automotive Advice for Women

Do male employees at the car lot strike out with women consumers because they are not trained better or is it the 'nature of the beast'? Is the remark 'boys will be boys' an excuse for behavior no gentleman would dare or does the male dominant environment at car dealers breed and condone sexist misconduct?

Recently I spent the day training 200 + dealership employees on improving communication skills with women consumers. At the end of the day-long meetings I went around to pick up the extra literature and found several inappropriate notes written by the dealership employees referencing crude remarks about the presentation, a few rather bizarre sexist cartoon drawings of myself, and my favorite, a note with written on it.

At first I felt angry, then laughed. This was just like back in high school with the same group of 'boys' sitting at the back of the class passing notes and making fun of the teacher.....only now I was the teacher!  Boys will be boys?

A survey from Power Information Network, a division of J.D. Power and Associates, found that of about 800 female buyers in the U.S. market, roughly 40 percent believe their gender hurt the way they were treated in their most recent visit to an auto dealer.

One of the top drivers of traffic to Ask Patty is discomfort with dealers -- inappropriate sexual comments, a "bring your husband back when you're ready to buy" attitude, and the suspicion of being ripped off, get mentioned often.

Here are a few quotes from women consumers :

"A salesman dangled the keys of a sporty little number in front of my eyes, asking pityingly:"You sure you know how to drive this?" I replied pointedly,"Were I a man you wouldn't dream of asking that question. Naturally he didn't get the sale."

"Being a woman, I realize that I'm already at a disadvantage when it comes to buying a car. Not that I'm a woman, but that the approach car dealers use towards women and their attitudes towards women are so uncalled for, so disrespectful and so not acceptable. They assume just because I'm a woman that I don't know what I'm doing or that I need the help of a man to buy a car."

"I had a terrible experience at a dealership when I took my car in for repair. I dropped the car off at 12:30pm and the work was to be finished by 4pm, when I arrived back at the dealership at 4pm it was just being washed. One hour and forty five minutes later (after several gentlemen in suits had brought their cars in and got their cars back already) it was finally ready and they brought it out half cleaned and with a few big scratches on the side of the car. I was not pleased and we had a bit of an argument about it. Needless to say...I never received a survey about customer satisfaction for that visit."

There is Good News: AskPatty provides extensive training and certification for dealerships to become 'female friendly'. We are working with committed dealership owners who are making a concerted effort at resolving this problem, including the one mentioned. I applaud dealer owners who recognize the issue, make a commitment and take action. We just need more dealerships around the country to step up to the plate and make the commitment.

Strong leadership at the dealership and effective ongoing training will begin the process to solve the problem of women who still have issues with this and won't set foot on a dealer's lot without a man in tow because they're afraid they'll be taken advantage of or refuse to deal with these same pervasive crude attitudes.

The stakes are high for dealerships as women purchase more than half of all new cars sold in the US and represent billions of dollars in annual revenues.

                                                                                              Jody DeVere
                                                                                              Ask, Inc.


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Jody DeVere

I want to thank you all for your supportive and informative comments to this post!

Let the voice of the woman consumer be heard by the automotive industry loud and clear !

Jody DeVere, Inc.

C.B. Whittemore

I really enjoyed this posting and have referred to it in my blog at

Lauren Brown

One of the key things that I have learned as a business student is that customers are very important on increasing sales.More families have become dual-income;woman are now becoming the bread winners as well. Society needs to be more open-minded and time should be spent educating woman on the car buying process. Woman are just as capable of getting what they want. Men should set aside their "boys will be boys" attitude and give woman a chance to shine.

Monica Willey

I’m a student and am working on a business minor and one of the things we are constantly focusing on is the consumer. The point of being in a business is to increase sales, you can’t rely on just products to make a successful business. When half of all new cars being sold in the US are being bought by women wouldn’t you think you would do anything to please and satisfy your major customer, the most successful of business are continuously educating their staff to be current with our ever changing society. If our society has changed to dual income families and the idea of women becoming CEOs isn’t all that shocking you would hope that our selling techniques would evolve as well. Let “boys be boys,” it will be them who miss out in the end, just like anything you must grow to better yourself and become successful. The adults, men and women that have matured into an open minded society and that are aware of the potential dominant gold mind that is the female consumer are who we should strive to be.

Jennifer Bailey

Rather than spending time on training men to not use their innate egotisical logic,
we need to spend time training women to fully understand the car buying process, including a better understanding of cars! All women know how to get their way with a man in certain circumstances...maybe the car lot is where we have something to prove! If we walk up knowing more about the car (or car we might want) than they do, we can change the entire encounter/purchasing process. Implementation of programs on the behalf of dealerships can help to a certain extent, but we all have a choice and a right to be informed consumers. Imagine what a man would buy, or simply how he would act, if he walked into Sephora... Let's just beat them at their own game and continue making baby steps to a feminist society... or hire a personal car shopper.

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