By Guest Blogger, Anne Fleming
As a 20 plus year marketing and product management veteran making six figures and travelling internationally for my employer, I had just returned home from an Asian trip when I knew it was time. Time to buy a new car. Excited about my new-to-me, ‘certified used’ BMW, I told my boss about my latest purchase. Matt asked if I had received a good deal.
“A good deal? Well, of course. I hired a negotiator and got the deal I wanted!”
Matt stared at me. He leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. After a lengthy and awkward silence, he said, “You manage a $30 million dollar business and travel the world by yourself. Why did you give your power away?” This single question ‘Why did I give my power away?’ literally altered the course of my life.
My global executive coach, Barbara Schwarck introduced me to the book Women Don’t Ask, co-authored by Linda Babcock. The book was a remarkable read and underscored research showing that while women have much success negotiating deals for our employers, when it comes to negotatiating outside the workplace many women aren’t comfortable and stay quiet or don’t ask for what they really want. In my case, I was quite capable of buying a car; I simply didn’t feel comfortable with the process and avoided its interaction by hiring someone to engage in the financial interaction on my behalf. Oh, did I say that my car salesperson was a woman? True!
The more I thought about it, I was not alone. In the United States, we do not bargain or negotiate in the mall or at the market like in Israel or China. We are a wealthy country and we are used to pulling out our Visa or debit card and paying the ticket price – on sale or not. Even at farmers market, most Americans don’t bargain – we don’t want to appear cheap.
Yes, in tough economic times we tend to bargain more – we hear more stories today of Americans ‘haggling’ over their bank/home payments or with utility or credit card companies to get better rates. Why is it that we ‘negotiate’ for our employer but we ‘haggle’ when saving money for ourselves? The word ‘haggle’ sounds nasty and cheap. Regardless, for most of us we negotiate at garage sales, when buying a home and when buying a car. Those are the major times when we negotiate outside of the professional workplace.
That being said, I started doing some research; just how many women were like me? They may not hire a negotiator, but they have their husband, ex-husband, father, brother, boyfriend, or friend come with them to the dealership. I got my answer: 60% of the time women bring someone with them to the dealership (even when the car is exclusively for her), and when they do bring someone with them, 78% of the time it’s a man.
This stunned me. What was this all about? We women are the chief purchasing officers for over 80% of household goods and services in our country; we influence and have such buying clout. What could I do to assist in this area – the car buying process – to have women be more empowered? After all, we spend an estimated $200 billion a year at new car dealerships.
In October of 2008, I created and launched Women-Drivers.com® to address the hesitation many women experience when going to purchase a vehicle. The site connects women and families with Certified Women-Drivers Friendly™ dealers. Dealerships are recognized as women-friendly by consumers who rate their experience when purchasing, browsing and servicing their vehicles. The higher a dealers score, the higher they appear in the sites’ engine. Women are great information sharers and their real-time reviews assist future car buyers locate women-friendly dealers in their city.
Women-Drivers is a free resource that assists with the process of locating dealerships that already have a great relationship with women. As a leading market research provider educating those who serve the auto industry, it is our mission to transform the dealership experience for women by enriching and empowering their visit.
BIO: Anne Fleming once struggled with negotiating at a car dealership.
Now, she has vast knowledge in this area and shares her insights on negotiating and creating the best dealership experience possible. Anne’s goal is to empower women to take charge of their automotive experience and have it be rewarding each and every visit. Appearing in the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, USAToday, Anne has effectively used social networking to elevate her company to the national spotlight.