With a struggling automotive industry at the forefront of discussions in Detroit, Washington and across the nation, one college is looking to a new solution to boost consumer confidence and satisfaction in the car buying experience.
The Automotive Marketing Department at Northwood University is offering the WomenCertified® training and certification program to students at its Florida, Michigan and Texas campuses. Northwood is the first higher education institution in the U.S. to offer the course as part of its curriculum.
The WomenCertified course—typically offered to companies and sales professionals looking to strengthen their marketing and customer service programs—is based on women’s standards of expectation in the buying process. The program focuses on delivering improved customer service, communicating more effectively and creating trusting relationships with customers and prospects.
Recent statistics show that women influence the purchase of 83% of all consumer products, including 95% of all vehicles sold in the United States. As a result, the focus on making the car buying experience more appealing to women makes sense to Joseph Lescota, the Chair of Northwood’s Automotive Marketing Department.
Lescota explained that aggressive attempts to make the automotive market more consumer friendly to the Hispanic market have been successful and well-documented, but similar efforts to appeal to women have not mirrored this success because the focus was misplaced.
“When it comes to educating the retail auto industry on the female buyer side, the attempts have been feeble, weak, ineffective and most certainly inconsistent,” Lescota stated. “The industry attempted pink cars, umbrella and purse holders, special color options, make up mirrors and "power puff clinics," to name just a few. These programs and marketing efforts were geared toward the consumer and were expected to carry themselves. Little or no aggressive effort has been made to educate those who are ultimately responsible for dealing directly with the female buyer.”
Placing emphasis on face-to-face customer relationships and effective gender communications, WomenCertified is “creating a customer service revolution for women by setting a higher standard of excellence in service,” stated its founder, Delia Passi.
Kendrick Davis, a junior from Detroit, Michigan majoring in Automotive Marketing at Northwood University comments, “Advertising geared towards women can be offensive. Assuming a woman is a soccer-mom or a housewife, or thinking that a woman is naïve, are some of the common generalities the market makes. The amount of resources available from WomenCertified will provide a significant competitive advantage that will last a lifetime.”
Passi is the CEO of Medelia, Inc., a leading training, consulting and research firm specializing in marketing and selling to women. Her book, Winning the Toughest Customer: The Essential Guide to Selling to Women, will also be used as a classroom text at Northwood to accompany the WomenCertified training.
“Eight in 10 women feel undue pressure when browsing a dealership showroom, and the same number won’t visit a dealership without a male accompanying them,” said Passi. “These are bad numbers for dealerships. WomenCertified is designed to teach companies how to make the buying process more comfortable and even appealing to women. All of the product development and targeted marketing in the world won’t matter to her unless she walks into a dealership culture that takes her needs seriously, understands how she buys and meets her expectations as a decision maker.”
All sales professionals, including Northwood students, who complete the program will be awarded the WomenCertified Seal to signify that they have completed the program and made a commitment to delivering customer experiences tailored to women. 70% of a company’s customer-facing associates must complete the program in order for the company to receive the Seal.
Passi continued, “Northwood University has always been known as a forward-thinking institution, and we are proud to be part of their progressive curriculum. WomenCertified has opened a lot of eyes in the automotive industry, and we are confident that the Automotive Marketing students who complete the program will be better prepared to join in this changing industry.”
Lescota agreed. “I seized the opportunity to present this material to our students. Upon briefly explaining the importance and presenting a sampling of what would be learned, my students demanded to know more. I feel this additional education and validation will most certainly make our students, both male and female, more marketable upon graduation, and more effective once they enter the workforce.”
About Northwood University
Northwood University (northwood.edu) is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills and personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.
Private, nonprofit and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in Southern Florida, mid-Michigan and Northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in eight states with many course delivery options including online. The DeVos Graduate School offers full-time, evening and industry specific master's degree programs for entrepreneurs and executives in Michigan, Texas and Switzerland. The Alden B. Dow Creativity Center on the Midland, Michigan, campus specializes in creative thinking and innovation development. International education is offered through terms abroad and in Program Centers in Switzerland, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bahrain. Northwood University also operates the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Maine.
50 Years of Enterprise and Ethics
Northwood University is marking its 50-year anniversary. Founded in 1959, Northwood has grown to a national and international presence and is an influential advocate for free enterprise. Celebrations are planned across the country and around the world to commemorate the vision and success of Northwood University's founders, Drs. R. Gary Stauffer and Arthur Turner.