Published in the September-October 2014 issue of MyLIFE magazine
Cathy Droz loves red high heels … and cars. Her mother, Ruth Hoffmann, told her in 1967 that every woman should own a pair of red high heels: “Let your shoes set the tone; after that, you open your mouth.” Droz believes that red shoes with heels are not a sign of stupidity, but of confidence and fairness. They’re what she wears when she’s out buying a car … or test- driving a car … or writing about cars or advertising cars … or educating people about them.
Experience in the automotive industry throughout a 20-year career gave Droz lots of expertise with which to write this guide. The twin topics of cars and women come together to give advice that male readers will also enjoy. The reason this book is geared toward women is because they spend $7 trillion consumer and business dollars per year. It is expected that in the next decade, women will control 66 percent of consumer wealth. According to MediaPost, they already make 85 percent of all purchasing decisions.
And then there’s the fact that women and men are very different when it comes to purchasing big-ticket items. Droz is living her dream, working with automotive sales companies and their employees to teach them how female consumers want to be treated when buying a car.
Along with business partner John Coe, Droz came up with a program in which auto dealers that meet certain criteria can become “High Heels Certified”—a place where respectful and fair transactions occur as a matter of fact. This seal of approval comes with an agreement on the dealer’s part to attend classes, undergo an audit and train sales and service staff to ensure that the car-buying experience is customer-focused. Their good work may eliminate all those bad jokes about car salesmen!
In the book, Droz writes of personal experiences that are unique to her and that taught her about the process of buying a car. She was not home-schooled, but between the ages of 10 and 17 she was “auto dealership schooled,” especially by her dad, Vinnie. At age 10, she hung out with her brother in garages and pretended that her Ken doll was an auto mechanic. By age 13 she was sitting in on car-purchasing negotiations with her father. At 15 she collected brochures for Buicks, Chevys, Pontiacs, Fords and other cars and played with them as if they were paper dolls. Finally, at the age of 17, she was ready to take her “final exam.”
“I bought the family car while Dad stood outside the dealership only to come in and sign the papers,” she said. Here’s what’s remarkable—her dad was worried that the salesman might take advantage of her because she was so young. Her being female was not an issue in his mind!
Being female was an issue, however, when Droz was 40 and a single working mother with three children. She’d started an ad agency for car dealers (with $500), and her office was above a showroom. She said each time she went downstairs, she “would see the terror in women’s eyes, whether they had come in alone or with a man next to them. I would watch salesmen with dollar signs in their eyes overtake the women and make them feel very uncomfortable.” Droz was the voice of reason, telling sales teams that female car buyers wanted to see engines and not the vanity mirrors. She realized the amount of education and training that needed to take place.
There is so much good information in this book—from navigating car purchases on credit to how financing really works, to what type of personality drives a red car, to comparing a list of your wants versus your needs … and doing a kind of ‘matchdotcom’ between buyer and seller. Look for brilliant bits of advice in the “If I Owned A Dealership …” text boxes. Know that if Droz did own a dealership, we’d all want to buy a car there.
So, if you want to learn how to research a car purchase, choose the right dealership, test drive vehicles, trade or sell your used car, negotiate pricing and develop a relationship with the maintenance and repair service department, this book includes everything you need to know. It’s a quick read, at just 132 pages—you can finish reading it in the time it takes to do the 100,000-mile checkup on the car you plan to trade in for a new one.
Throughout the book, shoe metaphors figure prominently. Shoes are, after all, treads for foot transportation—whether they’re sporty sneakers, classic loafers or a head-turning pair of red high heels.