I don’t know about you, but I’m NOT a super fan of dealing with cars without a male around. Don’t judge me. Do I do it? – yes, all the time. I have to. But, if I’m going to be all-the-way honest, I’d love to NOT have to deal with it. Now, before you pass judgement on me, hear me out.
I was raised by a single mom, I grew up knowing I could do anything. And I have lived this way for years. But these days, running after two kids and being CEO, CFO and COO of a household, I would love to outsource the car responsibilities.
Can I learn about cars as a woman and be great? Yes. And I have for years. I’m quite confident and open to learn as much as I can to get what I need done. Can I figure out how to service my car? Of course. I have done this for the last 20 or so years. Quite successfully too. But the truth that remains, for me – based on my experiences – is that there is a gender bias when I walk into mechanic shops or car dealerships. And it bothers me.
I’m serious people. Google “gender bias” against women in auto shops. Read up on it. It’s real.
But I can’t just take out my magic eraser and make it go away in a day. Especially not on the days that I need my car serviced or like last week when I needed to get a new car. So, what can we do? Today, in real time, when cars need to be serviced and bought? First, be informed – talk to experts (people you know) and do online research. Being equipped with data helps to make an informed decision and battle the attempted hustle of the salesperson. Secondly, be confident. Walking into an autoshop or dealership is like heading into any other negotiation. Put your game face on. Don’t have one? Get one! Shoulders back, chin up and a firm handshake. Confidence will create your experience.
After all that – without any available “guy” friends or family around to assist in my buying decision – here’s what worked for me, as a focused, take-no-ish, single mama:
- You dictate your price range: If you know you can only afford $170-$220 a month, state that. Move first with your number. By going out with your number first, you create a better influence in the end number versus letting them dictate the starting point of the negotiation. Make them work out the math. The truth is, they CAN make magic happen with the numbers so that it can work for you. Stay firm. There are rebates available and they can fluff the trade-in value of an old car.
- They need a sale more than you need a car: Especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So act like that. Be ready to walk out. Even if it’s just to think about the offer. Don’t be desperate to close. Let them do that.
- Do everything over the phone, before you even walk in the door: I can’t STAND to wait with my kids in a non-kid-friendly place i.e. car dealerships!!! So, I called several times before even going to the dealership. I told them, what I wanted, that I wouldn’t come in and the test drive will be last. Let’s run my credit, you call the bank so the numbers are approved and then we can talk more. Make an appointment and confirm what will happen during the meeting.
- Have your advisory board on speed dial: If you are walking “alone” into the dealership or auto shop, take your moments to pause and call someone. I did this and even informed my sales folks that I needed a moment to talk with my folks or girlfriend’s husband (ex-car salesman) about the offer. Let the salespeople know that you are NOT going to be rushed into an offer.
- Shop around: Do some groundwork to see what you can get at other dealerships with different cars. This way you have some “market” data to compare to when making a final decision. And let the salespeople know this. And different brands have different credit thresholds and can offer more than others.
This list is just a starter with the hope that it will help someone. I really don’t like walking into a “boys club” anymore than the next lady. But, with good information, a little encouragement…we can get this done without getting hustled. I don’t like losing money because someone thinks I don’t know any better. And I know you don’t either. Stand your ground moms!
Let me know if you have any helpful hints too! Comment below.
Ps – Here’s us in our new car!