Fabulous female garage feedback

welldonegiftcardfrontThis is a story in its own right so I thought I’d simply cut ‘n’ paste Dane’s garage feedback so all could see it in its entirety.

This is how a genuinely female friendly garage should look after its customers and why this makes good business sense in the end…

It’s rare for customers to want to tell us so much good news but we’re delighted of course and this simply means a fight to see who will carry out their evidently straightforward compliance visit later this year.

Name of garage: Toronto Garage Ltd
Purpose of visit: MOT & tyres this time
Location/town: Wallasey, Wirral
Car make/model: Ford Fiesta
Month/year of garage visit: August 2014

Comments: I’ve just had my MOT done at Toronto Garage. As always, I received friendly, top quality service at a reasonable price (I’m so glad they send me a letter reminding me when my MOT is coming up, I’d forgotten this time!).

Toronto Garage was recommended to me just over 10 years ago by a colleague who has been with them for many years. Being a girl and not knowing much about cars, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first went, but they have always given me great prices and only done work that really needed doing. When the company moved premises a few years ago, I kept going to them even though they were further away from my home because I trust them to do a great job and not rip me off. They have never let me down.

Over the ten years I have been going to Toronto Garage, I have had MOTs, services, mechanical repairs, new tyres etc (I’ve had two quite old cars). Every time I need something doing, they will explain it to me first and say how much it will cost before I decide to go ahead with it. Shona, Mike and the team have always been very friendly and welcoming, it’s a pleasure doing business with them. I know that even when they are busy they will find a way to fit me in somehow. It takes the worry away when you know that you are dealing with a company that is so reliable.

I’m not usually confident about getting a courtesy car out of it’s parking place. Mike has always been very helpful and will drive the car onto the road for me, making it very easy to use. Sometimes instead of choosing to use a courtesy car, I have a walk around the shops in Moreton. It’s a lovely way to pass the time while my car’s being fixed. Or you can walk down to the lighthouse and the sea if you don’t want to sit in the waiting area. It’s a great location.

I would highly recommend Toronto Garage to any female (or male) drivers. If you have any worries or questions just ask them, they are so lovely. It’s worth travelling a bit further for a garage you can really rely on. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Marks out of 10 = 11!

Female Friendly Garage Rating:
Cleanliness: 5
Female Friendly: 5
Quality of workmanship: 5
Value for money: 5
Welcome: 5
Full Name: Dane Shadows
Permission to include name: Y

Lovely to read how it should be even if I can’t get it to add up to 11!

Congratulations Toronto Garage – that’s going some…

FOXY Steph

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Exciting careers in the motor industry

city_college_4v1It’s GCSE results time again which reminded me of my son and his further education and career experiences.

He took an International Baccalaureate (IB) instead of A Levels – this was a really tough option involving higher subjects Chemistry, Biology and Maths plus German, Economics and English, hands-on community work, running a marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support, a challenging extended essay, some philosophical studies and more.

To cut a long story short he didn’t get the University grades as expected and his interest in Science had clearly waned during the 6th Form… So he turned to apprenticeships to avoid paying the new £9000 annual tuition fees.

Instead he joined an insurance company as their first motor claims apprentice, earning whilst learning a new skill. After a year they offered him a junior claims role. After another year he moved into their associated fraud department and he’s just moved up another scale in this field. He has taken the first of his CII exams and is planning two more.

He’s 21 now and hopes to go to University at a later stage. When I asked him whether he’d go back to his scientific studies he said no, he was no longer interested in that field. Just imagine how hard he’d have worked at University to graduate with an expensive degree in a discipline he no longer loved?

Better surely I say that he has gained invaluable life skills in these three years, including leaving home, self-funding flat-living, having a good social life and learning whilst earning.

Motor Industry Apprenticeships

His experience and a recent research project made me look at apprenticeships in the motor industry in some detail. I learned about the IMI’s AutoCity careers website; a fun resource to help parents and pupils alike learn about the staggering range of motor careers on offer.

In 2014 the automotive industry is campaigning for a more professional industry in garages and accident repair workshops. As things stand, qualified technicians can earn upwards of £25k.

Less surprising perhaps is that the motor industry is courting female students in engineering roles, because we’re good at STEM subjects at GCSE level. We then head off into more pastoral areas it seems, which is a loss to the motor industry I’d suggest, but we also need more young females in customer service roles and selling cars that they mightn’t always know about or consider.

In a nutshell we want parents and young students to appreciate that the automotive industry is a massive job and wealth creator in the UK. The opportunities for hard working talented individuals are huge and, in my experience, a career in the motor industry is varied and always fun.

I recently carried out some research into the motivation and perceptions of young apprentices. Those who were naturals in mechanical apprenticeships loved diagnosing problems, fixing things and solving problems. Those who excelled in customer service roles understood that the motor industry is and should always be more about people than engines.

My conclusion is that students and their parents need to consider all career options based on their GCSE results. I’d hope that they wouldn’t write off the motor industry based on its past. This would be a big mistake with a view to the future.

If I can help in any way, by all means email me direct via steph@foxyladydrivers.com.

To find out about career options in the motor industry I recommend parents and students alike visit the Autocity website – autocity.org.uk.

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Gender driving licence disqualifications

Copyright Peter Cheney, The Globe and Mail 2012

Copyright Peter Cheney, The Globe and Mail 2012

I could never understand why our insurance industry rolled over and let the EU tell them they could charge women the same as men for car insurance. When the gender risk remains the same, by and large.

And you must forgive me for being cynical when I read that motor insurance has become profitable during 2013 after many lean years.

The Gender Directive arrived in December 2012 so UK insurers had a good 12 months of potentially charging female drivers more.

Coincidence or contributory factor I wonder?

Probably too soon to tell, she says trying to be charitable.

However new figures obtained by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) confirm that male drivers between the ages of 20 and 30 were the most common group to be disqualified from driving in the 12 months between July 2013 and June 2014. And you have to drive badly to be disqualified of course as in collecting too many points on your licence, driving too fast and testing positive for drugs or alcohol.

These figures were supplied by the DVLA following a Freedom of Information request and reveal the age and gender groups most commonly carrying out a driving offence that then led to a subsequent driving ban.

As of 21 June 2014…
+ 92k UK drivers were disqualified between July 2013 and June 2014.
+ Just over a third of these (c31k) were men aged between 20 and 30.
+ Fewer than 15 per cent of the overall total were females.

I’m not saying that 15% is an acceptable level but if you factor in the increase in the number of women drivers and the mileage we now do, the statistics would have been even more marked in favour of safer female motorists in the early 90s.

And let’s just set the record straight about older drivers too. While 36k drivers between 20 and 30 were disqualified in the last 12 months only 10k were in their fifties and just 4k in their sixties.

So the evidence remains clear that it is the young male drivers that are in need of better preparation for motoring.

Not to be challenged by allegations that young men are better drivers than young women because they pass their test in fewer lessons. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, hasn’t anyone else worked out that the fact that young women are generally less confident learner drivers, take longer to pass their test and need more lessons to do so makes them safer drivers? My conclusion is that the testosterone driven male confidence factor allows too many young drivers to pass their test before they are sufficiently road savvy.

This is a gender issue and the sooner we realise that young male and female motorists are equal BUT VERY DIFFERENT, and should be treated differently, the better.

Simon Best, chief executive of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “These statistics strongly reflect the research we have already carried out in this area – that young males are very much the at risk group when it comes to driving safety.”

Hear, hear IAM.

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Which? best car brands

female new car shoppingWhen you’re shopping for a new car, whether it’s brand new, nearly new or unflatteringly described as ‘used’ you need to do a lot of homework to get to the perfect shortlist to suit your needs. And this takes time to get right.

A good place to start is the new Which Car Guide 2014/15 – it’s the biggest car reliability and satisfaction survey with more than 49,000 owners revealing their likes and dislikes.

Which? rates cars by road and lab tests adding reliability results and customer satisfaction feedback.

The majority of motorists in this survey were cash buyers, fractionally more bought petrol than diesel cars, 30% bought automatics, only 2% drove hybrids and there was a fairly even split between new and used car models. Sadly no gender based information for us here.

Top Ten Best brands (out of 32)
1. Lexus
2. Honda
3. BMW
4. Toyota
5. Audi
6. Skoda
7. Porsche
8. Mercedes
9. Mazda
10. Volkswagen

Bottom Ten Brands (out of 32)
32. Chrysler
31. Vauxhall
30. Alfa Romeo
29. Fiat
28. Chevrolet
27. Peugeot
=24. Landrover
=24. Mitsubishi
=24. Dacia
23. Renault

Clearly the rest slot in between but it’s worth noting that big brand Ford comes in at 11th whereas similarly familiar brand Vauxhall is languishing nest to bottom. Would Vauxhall do better if this was a business driver survey or do they do badly because their cars have been hammered by business drivers before becoming used cars?

So what does all this tell us? It tells us that too many motorists buy cars that aren’t the best out there. Presumably they think it’s better the devil you know and maybe they stick with a familiar brand rather than trying a new one. My personal experience is that many women don’t enjoy test driving a new car in an unfamiliar area and perhaps get their husband to or stick with the brand/model they know.

Car buying advice for women

Our advice? Always pick the best rated models in terms of reliability, safety and economy. Then ask for a test drive car to be delivered to your home for an overnight test. Then you can try it out on familiar roads. If you don’t ask, you won’t get…

But always factor in a few of your own driving fancies. For example, I find some of the top brands to be a boring drive but having chosen a drive I enjoy, my car hasn’t the visibility I need and I’ll want to put this right the next time…

Car shopping should always be a learning experience about the latest cars and models. Be adventurous and test drive a new car that performs better than your current model.

I’m looking forward to my new car later this year, when I’ve decided what it’s going to be…

FOXY Steph

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Top ten tips re females travelling on their own

Georgian-Court-HotelI spend a lot of time out and about in my car. I often use the Laterooms service to get a good hotel deal and this has taken me to all sorts of off the beaten track hotels, some I’ve liked more than others.

But travelling alone as a female comes with certain risks and there are some precautions you can take to reduce these.

Most of these are fairly self evident things like ‘don’t run out of petrol at nights’, ‘always have your emergency breakdown contact details handy’, ‘keep a personal attack alarm handy’, ‘choose where to park your car wisely’, ‘don’t overdo the girly accessories onboard’ and always keep your mobile phone topped up of course.

But when it comes to staying at hotels on your own are there things you could do, to be safer and enjoy a more female friendly stay? Here are a few tips I’ve picked up based on experience…

1. If you can arrive at your destination during daylight hours it’s less intimidating.

2. If you plan to arrive late at night, ask in advance if you can park close to the reception area, rather than in a dark corner of a distant car park.

3. Choose your room wisely – if it’s a big hotel on many floors, ask for a room near the lift. Or an escort of course.

4. A breakfast menu for one hanging on your door is an instant sign that you’re on your own.

From a hotel point of view I’m always surprised that so few emphasise their safety features such as double locking doors (with an inside chain or similar) and a viewing eyeglass to see who’s there before opening up… And too many reception staff still proudly announce your room number at a busy reception desk when there’s really no need to.

The hotel services I consider to be female friendly, however, include:

5. Genuinely free wi-fi – not the ones that give you 30 mins free then expect you to pay for more…

6. A guaranteed range of quality toiletries (so I don’t have to bring all mine from home).

7. An evening menu/room service that includes healthy options eg fresh salads.

8. The choice of a wall-side restaurant table/seat where I can either look into the room or read without feeling watched…

9. Complimentary drinking water (in case I’ve run out).

10. A full length mirror.

I don’t normally stay in 5 star hotels on business (because I’m paying) but these are all fairly straight-forward and affordable areas that result in my future loyalty, positive feedback and word of mouth marketing.

And the safety matters should surely be minimum standards in any hotel that claims to welcome women who travel on their own.

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