Anne Fleming is President & Car Buying Advocate of Women-Drivers.com®. She has vast knowledge in this area and shares her insights on negotiating and creating the best dealership experience possible. Growing up in Venezuela and later working abroad in China and India, Anne realized that negotiating is simply cultural. Women in other countries are very comfortable negotiating for themselves. Here in America, however, some women are not fully empowered or comfortable at the car dealership.
Anne spent 20 years in brand development and strategic product development for international consumer product companies like American Eagle Outfitters, Atlantic Luggage, and Cresswell Lighting.
Who have you mentored?
I am working with two start-up companies and recent grads out of Carnegie Mellon University who have extraordinary business models they are launching. I am a board member and assist them in the roles of Marketing and PR/Social.
Personally, I was a Big Sister (In Big Brothers Big Sisters) for 12 years. It was an extraordinary experience. My ‘lil’ received a full scholarship to Amherst University and is now in her second year of medical school – she is a tremendous young woman.
Who mentored you in this industry to help you get started?
Barbara Schwark, President of ClearIntentions.net was my Executive Coach for several years. She worked with me via cutting edge neurological coaching to gain distinctions in the area of confidence and break through some of the limitations I had had around starting a business. I also have a Board of Advisors that I meet with monthly regarding what’s next for the business.
Don Hammonds, Auto Editor of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for 30 years, and now President of AutomobileJournal.com assisted me with various industry introductions.
As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
I test drive cars about 40 weeks out of the year and am grateful that I get the opportunity to drive the latest ‘technological machines’.
Favorite features include a short list. First, the car has to have a driver’s arm rest, adjustable seats and a flip down head rests in the back seats to allow for a full and unencumbered view. Also, cooled and heated seats are a must now-a-days. I simply love the grill of a vehicle – it’s like the bling of the car’s exterior; some brands and models do a better job than others, but most use the grill as a point of design on the vehicle (where just 10 – 15 years ago, the front was not a strong selling point.)
The last thing is clear visibility. Some cars have a rear window that is too angled and hinders one’s visibility. Others have such big headrests in the front or back, drivers can’t really see around them.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
It’s an industry that historically has not been a forerunner in promoting and having women succeed, unlike education and the health profession.
The car is a complex piece of equipment that we rely on every day. Yet, fathers and mothers don’t usually engage their daughters in learning about cars at an early age. In the past and to some degree today, at the dealership level, women feel taken advantage of because they don’t know a lot about cars.
But we don’t have to know about electricity to contact a service provider and have electricity available in our home or apartment, do we? When I speak to women I remind them that they need to know only how to drive a car and how to buy one: however, knowing all the ins and outs about how an automobile functions has very little to do with researching and purchasing a vehicle. Having confidence and the ability to speak up for oneself at the dealership is paramount.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
I saw a need to shift the paradigm between how women consumers and the dealer community both generally approached the transaction of doing business with each other. In general, women can be hesitant, uncomfortable and don’t maximize their buying power (negotiating ability). Dealerships have been known to be cavalier and discarding towards women.
The business is about empowering women with data, the ability to share and being able to locate Certifed Women-Drivers Friendly™ Dealers. On the flip side, the business is here to Empower dealerships to be customer-centric excellent towards all prospective buyers. Doing so has a real impact on the bottom line of a company.
First automotive job?
This is my first job in the auto industry.
Proudest professional achievement?
Being interviewed on ABC News, asked to speak at Chrysler convection in Orlando, and the recent completion of our mobile platform.
Current challenge at work?
The biggest challenge has been reaching the dealerships. While Women-Drivers.com has been featured in many national and industry mediums, many dealerships don’t know about our products.
This is my definitely my dream job. With the various services, technologies and products we provide, the business is making a real difference to women buyers and to forward thinking dealers.
What sports or activities did you enjoy in school or/and currently?
I am an avid rollerblader. Also enjoy hockey and was on the national women’s deck hockey championship team 15 years ago.
What you do to relax?
I do hot yoga three times a week. I am m-el-l-o-w-e-d and relaxed when done with a 90 minutes session. It’s not only good for me – but the people at work and in my life like me much better after yoga.