Twenty years ago, Cindy Monson wouldn't have thought of working at a car dealership. Her perception: Too much testosterone made the work environment unfriendly for women.
But Monson is now marking her 12th year selling cars, all at Polar Chevrolet Mazda in White Bear Lake, Minn. It's a no-haggle store. That pricing model appealed to Monson as much as the high-pressure traditional approach turned her off.
Polar went to one-price in 1992. Cindy made the jump from selling electronics at Circuit City to selling cars at Polar in 1998. That was five years after her husband, Vince Monson, a former clothing store owner, began working at Polar.
His first few years at Polar, Vince discouraged Cindy from taking the leap. Despite the lower-pressure model, that testosterone was still a problem, he told me. But it got better fast. “When I started, I had so much fun,” Cindy said. Now, “I pride myself on repeats” -- 400 of them over those 12 years.
Cindy's story is an example of the change underway on the retail front. It's encouraging -- but the transformation is not happening fast enough. I still hear plenty of complaints from female car buyers who get the “now, little lady” treatment from salesmen. Dumb move. Women buy over half of new cars.
There are progressive retailers out there trying to transform their sales forces. Let's hope they speed it up. In the hyper-competitive retail landscape, stores with staffs that reflect the buying public will be better positioned to capture their business.