AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE: AN), America’s largest automotive retailer is providing a silver lining in a dreary auto market. WomenCertified and AutoNationDirect today announced the launch of Car Buying Her Way, a collaborative online car buying experience created especially for women.
Backed by customer research specific to women in the auto market, Car Buying Her Way (CBHW) unites the turnkey online sales platform of AutoNationDirect with WomenCertified’s women-friendly customer service approach.
“Eight in ten women feel undue pressure when browsing a dealership showroom, and an equal number won’t visit a dealership without a male companion,” said WomenCertified’s founder Delia Passi, CEO of Medelia Inc. and author of Winning the Toughest Customer: The Essential Guide to Selling to Women. “We’re not only trying to change that one dealership at a time through the WomenCertified program, but we’ve also developed Car Buying Her Way as a stress-free alternative to a process that is necessary but frustrating for so many women.”
The difference in the CBHW experience is manifold. First, all vehicles listed on CBHW site are offered at pre-negotiated pricing, providing a haggle-free and consequently less stressful car buying process. According to Edmunds.com, when asked to pick metaphors for the auto negotiation process, men picked “winning a ballgame” and a “wrestling match,” while women picked “going to the dentist.” The same study also showed that women are two and a half times more apprehensive about haggling over pricing than men are. Eliminating the need for negotiation, CBHW allows customers to connect with salespeople as partners rather than adversaries.
Next, CBHW customers are guided through the car buying process via phone and the web by a dedicated Personal Auto Shopper, each of whom have completed WomenCertified’s communication and customer service training. “AutoNationDirect’s Personal Shoppers provide a complete concierge experience from start to finish, and they are fully trained to give the kind of service women expect and deserve,” explained Passi.
“The bottom line is, a woman needs a car—but she doesn’t need the stress, the shoddy service and the confrontation that, until now, came as a package deal with that car,” she added.
Currently, the Car Buying Her Way service is offered in California, Colorado and Florida markets with plans for national expansion later this year.
In late 2008, AutoNationDirect completed the requirements to earn the WomenCertified Seal for customer service excellence, which inspired the creation of CBHW as a women friendly auto e-retailer. To earn the WomenCertified Seal, 70% of a company’s sales and service team must complete a specialized customer service and gender communications training program that teaches “what women want” in a buying experience.
Based on Passi’s extensive research and expertise in women’s communication and shopping habits and preferences, WomenCertified focuses on attentive customer service, active listening, effective gender communications and building trusting customer relationships. According to Passi, “WomenCertified is creating a customer service revolution for women by setting the standard for excellence in service—which I think many women feel is lacking in the automotive industry.”
Recent statistics show that women influence the purchase of 83% of all consumer products, including 95% of all vehicles sold in the United States.
“AutoNationDirect is part of a growing movement to raise the bar in providing the best customer service experience—not only to women but to every customer,” said Passi. “As a whole, Americans are feeling less and less satisfied with the quality of service they receive. We’re trying to reverse this trend with WomenCertified. Studies show that when you meet the expectations of women, you exceed those of men. It’s a win-win opportunity for companies and consumers.”
“AutoNation is proud that our AutoNationDirect sales channel has earned the WomenCertified Seal– it’s a testimony to our efforts to reach all of our customers in the most effective and appropriate way possible,” said Mike Maroone, President and COO of AutoNation, America’s largest automotive retailer and parent company to AutoNationDirect. “No business can afford to take customers for granted, and WomenCertified is a great way for us to connect with what may be the most important – and underappreciated – market segment there is. We’re proud of the association and look forward to great things from this partnership.”
Formed in 2007, AutoNationDirect is an alternative sales channel that enables AutoNation to serve the unique needs of Affinity Groups, Credit Unions and other specialty organizations by providing a customer sales experience outside the traditional dealership. AutoNationDirect customers can work via phone, online or in store with a dedicated Personal Auto Shopper and get the best experience in the business at an attractive price. Ron Frey, the President of AutoNationDirect, and a direct sales channel veteran, says of AutoNationDirect, “AutoNation has quietly brought the promise of a truly customer centric alternative automotive sales channel to life – online, by phone or in store. Because AutoNation controls the inventory, the price, the trade value and the finance process, we are the only ones who can deliver something like this.”
About AutoNation, Inc.
AutoNation, Inc. (autonationdirect.com), headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is America's largest automotive retailer and has been named America’s Most Admired Automotive Retailer by FORTUNE Magazine in five of the last seven years. A component of the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index, AutoNation owns and operates 302 new vehicle franchises in 15 states.
WomenCertified is a proven training and certification program rich with resources to help professionals increase sales through more effective communication, appreciation and an enriched customer experience.