The Second Annual Women in Automotive Conference was held June 26-28 in Orlando, Florida. Colors on Parade was well represented by Tara Rixey, Claire Garstka, Maureen Sander and Rose James. These women had the opportunity to learn and be inspired by leaders in the automotive industry from around the country.
Currently, the percentage of female automotive employees remains stagnant at just 18 percent. (according to NADA 2014 data). About 500 of the women that make up the 18% participated in this year’s conference. A major recruiter mentioned that they have received over 1,000,000 resumes, of which 40 percent were from women – but only 1 out of 4 are actually hired by dealers. Whether that’s a function of the job requirements or dealer preference, Women in Automotive is committed to bringing the two sides together. Women in Automotive will focus on the dealer side, through training and education on how to create a balanced position for women by providing a network and opportunities for development.
In 2015, the purchasing power of women increased 77 percent more than the industry standard, raising the percentage of female automotive purchases to over 60 percent. Not to mention, women are influencing over 85% of all purchases. In addition to women, millennials continue to influence the market more and more. This powerful generation now purchases more cars than any other generation in the United States. It is apparent that these growing trends are important to dealerships and manufactures.
Both women and millennials tend to make purchase decision in less traditional ways – focusing on feelings, relationships, brand value and external representation of their purchases. Automotive dealerships are changing the way they market and are choosing vendors based on the needs and wants of their “newest customer base.” Dealerships are focusing on hiring female friendly staff, open door policies on information, long term relationships and community outreach. Dealerships are also looking for the same focus from vendors.
The Women in Automotive Conference included seminars, workshops and keynote speakers, all designed to assist in capitalizing on the benefits of women both as employees and automotive consumers. With the goal in mind to move the automotive industry forward as it relates to one of most influential segments of the market: Women.
In addition to providing effective training and material, the WIA conference also introduced a new mentoring program. Based around the idea that mentors are effective resources, the program is designed to help people in the field become great leaders. The program is designed for people who are new to the industry, as well as seasoned veterans and will be a valuable tool for success. Mentors will assist anyone looking to learn more about the automotive industry and will provide personal experience to help navigate mentees’ careers and passions.
Women in Automotive speakers ranged from off road racing teams to dealership owners to NADA leaders, and topics covered leadership, sales, marketing and management. Claire Garstka, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Colors On Parade was chosen to speak on the topic of public relations along with many other speakers from around the country. This event is made possible by the consolidated efforts of board members, associations and sponsors. 2016 sponsors included industry leaders such as Cox Automotive, General Motors, Hyundai, Asbury, True Car, ALLY and many others.
It was an honor for Colors on Parade to be invited to participate in such a powerful event for the second year in a row. As a member of the Women’s Automotive Association International, Colors on Parade will be able to work closely with these influential women and men through the growth of the Automotive Industry.