Lisa Copeland’s ‘Car Buying, Her Way’

A part of me wasn’t sure I’d like Lisa Copeland’s new book, “Car Buying, Her Way.”

It’s the part that developed a bit of an “anything you can do, I can do better” outlook (having grown up with brothers only) … the part that broke the school record for the mile in 7th grade … that got a “half ride” (pretty good!) academic scholarship to college … that is undefeated in the game of Pictionary … that quit cigarettes 10 years ago cold turkey … that snow-skied the black runs her first time skiing … she was skeptical.

Why? Well, because she doesn’t want to see men and women treated differently. She feels smaller anytime anything is marketed specifically to women because it reminds her that men and women aren’t equal in society’s eyes.

(Few would probably argue that point, but those few might say, “They are equal, just different.” Like “separate but equal,” which was used as justification for the segregation of blacks and whites, but which the U.S. Supreme Court later negated, saying separate was never equal? Different isn’t equal either, and history has proved that women come out on the losing side of the equation. Different, to us, has meant less pay, more violence directed toward us by our partners, more discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere, less jurisdiction over our own bodies, more money spent on everything from razors to cars, and a lot of other discrepancies.)

This side of me is wary about messages directed specifically to women because she wants so badly for things really to be equal. If not for her, then for her niece.

A bit in denial, this part of me (which admittedly can be oversimplified in her thinking) is coming to understand that books like “Car Buying, Her Way” might be reflective of the problem, but they are also part of the solution. CBHW is something that can help level the playing field. It can help bring women up.

That’s due, in part, to the fact that Copeland authentically shares her own story – a story where she retains both her femininity and her strength. A story where she changes the car-selling game to fit her style, rather than trying to fit herself into some masculine mold.

She’s doing it her way, and she’s sharing her secrets.

Be FIERCE

If you are unfamiliar with Copeland (odds are, if you’re in Automotive, you’re not), she is a 30-year veteran of the industry who owned the most successful FIAT/Alfa Romeo dealership in the world. She once made a deal with Tim Kuniskis, then-head of the FIAT brand, that she and her team could break the record for most FIAT 500 hatchbacks sold in a month. If she succeeded, she’d get to meet Sergio Marchionne, who since passed away but was then CEO of FIAT globally, head of the European auto union, and CEO of Ferrari and FCA. Well, guess who flew in on his personal G5 jet a couple of months later to deliver, personally, his congratulations to Copeland and her team?

“I hope what you will take away from this chapter is not that I was the world’s greatest saleswoman but that I left it all on the field. I hope to encourage just one reader – male or female – to do the same.”

Throughout CBHW, Copeland proves that it’s in taking action that men and women are equal. That is, if we’ll make the effort to reach our dreams, and not quit until we reach them, we will be successful.

This is just one of Copeland’s FIERCE (Fearless, Initiative, Enthusiastic, Relentless, Crush Approval Addiction, Execute) Girl’s Business Tips, strewn throughout the book. These alone are worth the price of the book.

“The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.”

Mohadesa Najumi

British Neuroscientist and Author quoted in "Car Buying, Her Way"

Another: “We were not put in this world to go it alone. As women, we are relationship driven. I believe that fear of rejection often holds us back from forming strategic alliances that can build us up in both business and life. Feel the fear, and reach out anyway.”

Be Educated … and Intentional

“Car Buying, Her Way” perfectly balances snapshots of Copeland’s career (like that time she met and sold a car to Ross Perot, or how her team holds the record for selling the most Gucci FIATs) with oodles of practical tips for the best car-buying experience.

Truly, it is chock-full of money- and sanity-saving insider tips when it comes to buying a car. In fact, one of the main reasons Copeland wrote the book was in response to questions she is inundated with, like “How do I know I’ve found a good deal?” “Should I buy or lease?” “New or used?” and “What dealership should I go to?”

Most of the tips would help any car-buyer, of any gender. But several times throughout the book, Copeland does address that women are physiologically different from men (did you know that women’s limbic system is twice the size of men’s, making emotional connection more important to us?), and so our car-buying experiences will be different. Her tips provide practical advice for navigating every step of the car-buying journey.

Moreover, Copeland recommends that dealerships hire and promote more women, because women love to shop, are spending more money, and want to feel a connection with the brands they buy. Women better understand how to develop feelings of connection throughout the buyer’s journey. We also influence more purchases than men do, including those of cars.

She makes a strong point: More women are needed at the top of all industries, not just Automotive.

Copeland is generous with her gratitude for the help she’s received throughout her career, from both men and women. She encourages women to be intentional in their careers – to ask for help when needed, to ask mentors to be present, to ask to meet the people we look up to. But she especially wants women to form intentional relationships with other women in their careers and be supportive of each other.

In the end, Copeland has written a book that is as much about being successful at anything in life as it is about being successful at buying a car.

Maybe different never can be equal. Even at the height of her career, Copeland faced discriminatory treatment when buying her own cars. She still came out on top. Just more evidence that, even with challenges in front of us, there’s nothing we as women can’t do if we set our mind to it and support one another.

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