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Recruiters for dealerships turn to the malls to recruit saleswomen

November 18, 2010

The vast majority of women, recent surveys suggest, prefer buying a car from another woman. And since women influence 81 percent of new vehicle purchases, recruiters for an automotive group with dealerships in Florida and Texas plan to visit malls in those states this summer to look for outgoing, helpful saleswomen. 

The hours worked at retail stores are comparable to dealerships, but the dealership pay can be double or more. If the mall recruiting program works, Asbury Automotive Group intends to roll it out at most of its 94 dealerships.


Some evidence suggests women may even be better at selling cars than men. Saleswomen are less likely than their male counterparts to ignore female customers or to ask them if their boyfriend or husband is helping finance the purchase, according to a 2005 market study conducted by CNW using "mystery shoppers."


And CNW found 9.5 percent of men actually preferred to buy a car from a woman, compared with 8.7 percent who preferred a man. Eighty-one percent of men had no preference. Both men and women, however, prefer a man working behind the parts counter and servicing their vehicles. 

That some of his female mall recruits will have no experience with cars doesn’t present much of a problem for Ken Jackson, a human-resources vice president at Asbury, based in New York. The company tells new sales recruits to be honest with customers: Instead of answering a question with wrong information, they are supposed to admit they don’t know and refer the customer to a manager.


"We want somebody who has sales initiative, somebody who is money-motivated, who has good communication skills," Jackson said. "You can teach them the product and you can train them on the mechanics of selling the product." 

New Asbury hires get one to two weeks of training and also may go through manufacturers’ online certification and off-site training programs. About 11 percent of the sales force is female. Jackson said he’d like to increase that figure to 50 percent.


About 10 percent of salespeople nationwide are female, according to a 2005 survey by the NADA, up from 8 percent in 2004.