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Vauxhall calls in FBI to help in growth market

GM UK will this year step up its efforts to make women car users feel more welcome in dealerships run by its Vauxhall and Chevrolet brands.

Women continue to take a rising proportion of sales of new cars and, according to GM UK, the ability of its Vauxhall retailers to make them feel welcome is mixed.

One part of the programme is the next phase of the Vauxhall FBI (female buyer initiative). On the surface, this is a series of ‘women in the driving seat’ sessions hosted by dealers, run by AVF Communications, a retail marketing consultancy.

Richard Hennis, Vauxhall retail marketing manager, said: “The course offers advice on personal self-protection, defensive driving and routine car maintenance.”

Vauxhall wants it to be more than that and is giving its retail network advice on how to make female customers feel more at ease in dealerships. FBI clinics will also be run at Chevrolet outlets.

A GM UK spokeswoman said: “We are trying to improve the interaction between Vauxhall showroom staff and women. Our retailers need to understand that female customers want a non-threatening environment when they meet showroom staff.

“Our research also shows women like to see a variety of colours when looking at cars – it doesn’t help if everything in the showroom is silver.”

Most of all, she said, women want to be remembered when they return to a dealership or phone to make an enquiry or booking. “Women are more likely than men to recommend a good dealership, or to warn friends about a bad experience in one.”

Women account for 42.7% of sales of news cars, according to the latest figures. Vauxhall (at 43.12%) and Chevrolet (44.84%) perform slightly better, but the proportion for Saab is 21.47%. “Saabs are seen mainly as cars for men,” said the spokeswoman.

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