Rebecca "Becky" Quick, co-anchor of CNBC's financial news show Squawk Box, recently wrote an article in Fortune magazine that paints automobile dealers straight out of a scene from a bad 1950s sitcom.
Ms. Quick's, article is "Car salesmen: Still Sexist, Still Stupid." Based on her very loose reporting of a handful of encounters there is clearly evidence of stupidity and even sexism. The question is who is to blame? And if sexism was actually present on the part of the salesperson, it was the least of the problems.
First, the idea that the dealership didn't recognize Ms. Quick as a TV personality is the biggest outpoint. I wonder if this is what has Ms. Quick so upset about. Don't take it personally, Becky, but auto sales people don't watch your show because they are busy working on mostly commission in hopes they can provide for their families. That being said, I assure you, had it been Kim Kardashian, Suze Orman or maybe even Maria Bartiromo that showed for a car, the entire dealership would have been tweeting about it.
Secondly, you state that you shopped at five dealerships, but only gave limited details on one of them and suggested that the other four were "more of the same." Reporting should include some facts and here are a few: there are approximately 17,700 new car dealerships in the U.S. and another 55,000 used car or independent operations that employ millions of people and hundreds of thousands of men and women sales people. You disparage an entire industry as sexist and stupid after only visiting a few of them!
Third, you describe the treatment you received as sexist when others might find it courteous and professional. When you were waiting tables did you say hello to the man or woman first? I bet it was the woman to put her at ease! Well, based on your definition, this would be sexist. Maybe the salesperson was just practicing manners (as he understands them) by greeting the man first. Had he greeted you first, then you might be writing that he was hitting on you. Isn't it possible that the salesman values spouses working together in marriage and understands that buying a car is one of the biggest investments a family will make?
Fourth, is there any chance you were expecting to have a bad experience? If not, why bring a man with you? Did you need someone to protect you? My wife doesn't bring male friends with her to test drive cars. She is a woman and she likes being treated like a woman. Even if the dealership were to inquire about her husband's involvement she would not consider it sexist or stupid but considerate. You know the old saying, "what you believe is reality becomes reality."
Now lets handle "stupid." The idea that you actually rewarded the alleged unprofessional, sexist behavior by buying a car is something not even the dealer would want you to do. If you aren't treated the way you value there are 17,700 new car dealers that are more than happy to service you.
Ms. Quick works with the likes of Larry Kudlow, Joe Kernan, Guy Adami and the late Mark Haines on a daily basis. By now, Ms. Quick would have to know that if she wants to be treated like one of the boys then she needs to act like one of them. When someone doesn't handle me correctly and professionally, I don't threaten them, I correct them and try to help them. Rather than just be critical of the salesperson, why didn't Ms. Quick "man-up" and let someone know about it? The reality is if this supposed sexism happened at all, it's really management's fault -- not the individual.
I recently mystery shopped Sears and posted my experience on YouTube to prove that Sears problems were not just economic. This video or my experience wasn't a mandate on the entire retail industry or the employees but on the executives and the management team at Sears.
My advice to Ms. Quick or any women that are concerned when shopping for a car:
1) Call first to request an appointment and introduce yourself.
2) Use my 6 steps to buying a car made fun and easy. This will make buying a car painless.
3) If you are a sensitive woman ask that a woman wait on you. There are thousands of women salespeople.
4) If the dealership doesn't treat you right, don't buy their product.
Where is your empathy, sister Quick? The man that treated you so terribly works 10 hours a day; would you rather him collect unemployment? I would like to see you last just one day standing in a car dealership to earn $50-$100 to sell a $40,000 product! You are writing an article about a sexist salesman while Rush is calling a woman a slut, fuel is $5 a gallon, Iran threatens to go nuclear and Mr. Obama incurs more debt than all the other presidents preceding him combined.
Ms. Quick, let's be fair here. The idea that auto dealers, or their salespeople, are stupid and sexist based on your limited experience and perceived reality is not equitable to the entire auto industry. The fact is, if I were to address you as "Miss," or talk to your male friend first, or ask if your husband is going to be involved in the decision, I could be considered sexist/stupid (in politically correct liberal America). Where I come from, however, it is considered mindful, mannerly and professional.
Grant Cardone is a New York Times bestselling author.
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