Left: Ilene Adler is a top
salesperson at Bob Saks.
Below: Lisa Davis went from
selling clothes to Mitsubishis.
niche on the
JULIE EDGAR STAFF WRITER
comedian might find it full of potential: A
Jewish saleswoman talking horsepower and
fuel injection with a prospective car buyer.
It might be time for a thought realign-
Jewish women are selling cars, and
they aren't paying more attention to
their manicures or offering motherly advice
when they discuss the virtues of a Mitsubishi
Gallant or Toyota Camry.
What is slightly funny is that two of them,
Ilene Adler and Lisa Davis, came to car sales
by way of fashion.
Ms. Adler, 43, and her husband Robert
were partners in a chain of men's clothing
stores that were shut down after he was shot
during a robbery. A lifelong love of cars and
her sales skills led her to Bob Saks Toyota in
Farmington Hills 1 1/2 years ago. She was
the dealership's first female salesperson.
"I've always loved cars. I was fascinated
with them, like a guy," Ms. Adler said.
Ms. Davis, 26, was selling women's clothes
at Bebe at the Somerset Collection in Troy
when she wandered into Moran Mitsubishi
in Southfield looking for a new car.
That was last December. She bought a car
and, because she liked the friendly atmos-
phere and the fact that she wasn't "bom-
barded" by salespeople, left her resume.
In the spring and summer, she returned,
dropping off more resumes. An offer was
made in July. Ms. Davis began her new job
in early August. In her first three weeks she
sold five brand-new Mitsubishis.
The two women are rare indeed in the
world of new-car dealing.
According to the National Automobile
Dealers Association, last year, 13,800, or 6.9
percent of 200,000 salespeople, were women.
It is a whopping number compared to 1970,
when half a percent of new-car salespeople
And most car saleswomen work for deal-
erships that sell at least 750 new cars per
year. Sixty-four percent of the big dealerships
employ one or more women as salespeople,
while only 17 percent of the dealerships that
sell 150 cars or less per year hire women to
sell them, according to the association.
No data are kept on the number of Jewish
women pushing automobiles, but Ms. Davis
and Ms. Adler were surprised to hear they
Female car salespeople are a rarity in the
business, but Jewish ones are even rarer, said
Bob Moran, who, with his father Art, owns a
string of dealerships on Telegraph near 12
But women possess a certain savvy when
it comes to sales, he added.
"The thing women tend to do, and it seems
a little more critical in a Mitsubishi opera-
tion, is they tend to be more patient and pay
more attention to detail. Our typical Mit-
subishi buyer probably researches a purchase
a little more thoroughly because Mitsubishi
isn't as well-known as domestic lines or even
Hondas and Nissans. Purchasers might tend
to ask more questions, need more informa-
tion and take more time in their decision-
making process, and the women have been
excellent in that regard," Mr. Moran said.
Ms. Adler, who is consistently ranked
among the top salespeople at Bob Saks Toy-
ota, explained it this way:
"I don't have to do an oil change, but you
have to know the engines, the dimensions.
Most of our customers are highly intelligent
— doctors, lawyers, teachers. To sell, you have
to be as knowledgeable as they are or more
Perhaps more important is her refusal to
put pressure on a prospective buyer. She nods
in agreement that male salespeople tend to
go for the hard sell.
"A lot of people don't listen to what the cus-
tomer's needs are," she said. "In this market,
there are a lot of women who are newly di-
vorced who don't want to be bombarded by a
Not long ago, for example, the mother of
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