Should Muirfield be free to refuse women golfers as members?


“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member” said Groucho Marx memorably but many women golfers in Scotland might see things differently…

Headline news is that Muirfield is losing its right to host the Open golfing tournament in Scotland because it continues to exclude women from being Club members. Let’s be clear here. It is a privately owned links and the home of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers who just happen to be men.

These are men who can invite female guests and partners to play, when they want their company. They are men who have paid a high membership fee to belong and who presumably like ‘their’ club as it is.

Why is that so offensive today?

Yes, I can understand why some female golfers might feel aggrieved that, assuming they can afford it, they can’t join. After all, nothing makes you want something more than not being allowed to have it!

But then, if Muirfield gives in to gender and peer pressure here, would this mean the likes of the Lady Golfers Club and many similar social groups having to open their single sex changing rooms to men? That’s an interesting thought…

Democracy, free will and political correctness in golfing

Like most reasonable people, I believe in democracy and free will. So, when the majority of Muirfield members decide to accept women as Club members, that’d be the right time to do it. And if it doesn’t happen because the links’ owners don’t want it to, that’s OK with me too.

Clearly golfing powers feel the need to reprimand Muirfield (for PR disapproval but little else I suspect), then that’s OK with me too because I’m neither a golfer, rich enough to join nor geographically near Muirfield to be bothered either way. But surely we don’t all have to feel the same about issues like this?

But I can see that some men are deeply troubled by modern day feminism. It’s said we’re taking their jobs, pipping them at the post in further education, doing without them as parents (using donor sperm) and then ditching/divorcing them in our 60s… And seemingly wanting more and more for ourselves at all stages in between.

Ok that’s a bit over the top, but clearly some men see women as a threat to their very existence. And don’t know how best to respond.

So there should be no surprise that Muirfield likes their male dominated Club as it is and wishes to retain the status quo. Or that the likes of,, Save The Males, Men in Nursing, National Coalition for Men and so on feel the need for male only drawbridges on occasion.

And so do women. Which is presumably why we have the wonderful WI today, exclusive female business networks like Athena and special interest associations like FOXY and so on.

What’s wrong with doing this I wonder?

Each to their own I say because men and women are fundamentally different, designed to be compatible and complementary (not always I know…).

And long may we remain so… Vive la difference.

FOXY Steph

PS: I’m told it’s International Women’s Golf Day on Tuesday 7 June 2016. Well at least women golfers have one day to themselves haha…

PPS: Women are welcome to join FOXY here. Just like Muirfield, FOXY members can share most Club benefits with members of their family, including men. Heavens to Betsy, whatever next!!

Great customer service translates into business success

Business of the Year, Wiltshire Business Awards
Business of the Year, Wiltshire Business Awards
Pebley Beach is an award-winning and FOXY Lady Approved car dealership in Swindon.

It is also a Suzuki dealership where Club members in the Swindon area can claim exclusive model discounts.

So we wanted to know more about the Pebley Beach award winning business model and asked their Managing Director, Dom Threlfall, to tell us what they are doing that clearly many others aren’t.

This sentiment is neatly summed up in Dom’s quote.

“I believe great customer service is the key to business success – whatever business you’re in”

Top Ten Customer Service Takeaways

Sarcasm gets a yellow and sometimes red card at Pebley Beach
Sarcasm gets a yellow and sometimes red card at Pebley Beach

And so do we Dom, hence FOXY’s TOP TEN small and simple but spot on customer service favourites that Pebley Beach put into action and explain why they are on our FOXY Lady Approved list ahead of others…

1/ Reserved parking bays near the main entrance for customers with an appointment

2/ Expecting staff to walk customers back to their car

3/ Using a piece of tape to remind our technicians where the car seat was positioned.

“We’ve had married couples asking us to keep the tape in place, so that they know how far to put the seat back or forward for their partners!”

4/ Welcoming MoT and car servicing reminders.

5/ Simple online booking systems to free up staff to deliver personal customer service.

6/ The ability to watch technicians work on your car via a smartphone (a Hyundai service which Dom hopes will be rolled out nationally).

7/ A strategy to identify and recruit rising stars as apprentices, training them with a view to the future. Pebley Beach has won Awards for this approach as have many of their long standing staff as a result of this.

8/ Recognition that Pebley Beach is a community business requiring ethical behaviour at all times, manifesting this in upright and transparent customer dealings. The red and yellow football card photo above is a good example of this – it’s sarcasm that gets yellow and red cards at Pebley Beach…

9/ Managing an Aftersales (aka garage services) Charter so customers know what they can expect from Pebley Beach.

10/ Finally customers are encouraged to leave a voice mail message for Dom if he’s not in the business at the time. This is an excellent way to head off customer concerns that might otherwise escalate.

Other customer service initiatives

In recognition of his ability to convert good ideas into measurable actions Suzuki has sponsored Dom to attend the NADA Expo, the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association where US dealers come together to compare the latest services and developments. And it’s said that whatever is hitting the spot in the US it will soon do so in the UK.

Certainly that is true about the female friendly car dealership business model that launched at the same time as FOXY in the UK. And where the number of women drivers exceeded the number of male ones ahead of this happening in the UK.

“No-one does customer service like the Americans,” said Dom “so I was looking for great ideas that I can adopt in the UK.

“But best practice doesn’t just come from within the industry. Every time I’m at a restaurant, book into a hotel, or even order a pizza I’ll replicate anything that’s given me a great customer experience.”

Dom is also in demand as a business speaker and shared a platform at the Customer Service Summit in April 2016 with Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service; Linda Moir, former director of In Flight Services, Virgin Atlantic; Catherine Hutt, principal consultant (automotive) at Frost & Sullivan; and Captain Gary Barrow of King’s Royal Hussars, giving delegates an unusual insight into how the Army tackles this topic.

We’ll be returning to Pebley Beach later in the year to see what new NADA initiatives Dom might adopt and to measure the success of our FOXY Lady Approved services in terms of increased numbers of female customers. They are usually wary women who spot that Pebley Beach is the first dealership in Swindon to meet our standards ie our female car buying choice.

And as you can see from Dom’s approach, he is leading the car dealer field in Wiltshire by recognising that it isn’t just women who expect more from garages and car showrooms – men are equally delighted when the quality customer service bar is raised.

The challenge for other car dealerships is clear – they need to think as creatively about their own customer services, not just follow Pebley Beach’s examples.

“The greater the competition, the higher the customer service standard gets.”

says I, welcoming this challenge as ever.

FOXY Steph


See Dom at the Swindon Business Show demonstrating Pebley Beach systems efficiencies as a means of increasing the time available for staff to maintain the (often missing elsewhere) personal touch.

Here’s the Pebley Beach website.

Here are the exclusive Suzuki car deals for Club members.

And if you’d like to join the Club to enjoy services like preferential car insurance rates for women and such like, here’s how you can.

Why GAP Insurance is a recommended buy when new car shopping


Last year a Club member bought a very nearly new Skoda Superb estate and told me all about it at a business networking event.

I asked her if she’d taken out any additional insurance cover, such as GAP Insurance, which she hadn’t.

I explained that her £30,000 car would suffer heavy depreciation in the next few years. Even though Skoda cars do better than many other brands here, she could still be looking at a heavy loss of its new car value in three years or after 30,000 miles.

So, if her car was involved in an accident during this period (granted this isn’t what you think about when you buy a new car) and written off in the process, she’d be expected to make do with whatever the insurer valued her car at, which could be in the region of £10,000 short of the amount she’d paid for the car when very nearly new.

Why GAP Insurance makes financial sense

This is one of the instances where GAP insurance saves the day. Bad enough having an accident or your car stolen for that matter, and much worse of course if you still have outstanding finance to pay. GAP covers that financial gap and can put you in a position to buy the same car as very nearly or brand new again.

It’s worth remembering that…

+ UK Car Crime is a third of all crime
+ A vehicle is stolen every minute and one in three are never recovered
+ Cars can depreciate by up to 77% over a 3-year period AND
+ Motor insurance settlements are always less than the price you paid for your new car.

Working with ALA Insurance

I’d done my FOXY homework here and, as a Weekend Telegraph/Cars reader, I had been influenced by the fact that one GAP insurance provider is recommended above others by their Honest John motoring columnist. So I suggested she called ALA Insurance Brokers (ALAIB) to have a chat.

Yes, franchised dealerships do sell GAP insurance but few do this as competitively as an independent insurance provider like ALAIB.

Sadly this Club member left it too late to take out GAP Insurance cover (there is a time limit as ever) but she was happy with the service, information and advice. And sounds as if she’ll buy GAP the next time around.

A little later on Club member Barbara in East Sussex (who had bought a Nissan Qashqai) wanted GAP Insurance but felt that the dealership price was too high. Again, we recommended ALAIB and asked Barbara to check them out and report back to us.

This is what she told us recently.

“I wanted a second opinion about GAP insurance and remembered my FOXY membership. Within ten minutes of my call they phoned me back to introduce and recommend ALA who then responded quickly and courteously to me with all the information and reassurance I needed. I have since saved a little over £70 compared to the dealership GAP quote and I’m very impressed.”
Barbara, March 2016

After a few more intros we decided to contact ALAIB ourselves to see if we might negotiate a special discount for Club members and their direct family. And whilst discussing this preferential arrangement we agreed to FOXY Lady Approved status here because of the way ALA has looked after the females we know of during the last six months.

Part of this working relationship is likely to include ALA offering its female customers free lifetime online membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club as an added gesture of their value for money service and customer care in future. Extending lots of added benefits including our preferential car insurance, member only new car deals and a FOXY Lady Approved network of UK garages, accident repairers, car dealers and tyre centres.

All in all we’d say this is a Win Win arrangement in that…

1. Club members get a better deal re GAP Insurance.
2. The Club gets a new benefit.
3. ALA gets recommended to more women drivers at GAP Insurance car shopping time…
4. ALA female customers can claim a gift membership of the Club, in future joint promotions, offering them loads of new savings and support services.

What’s not to like?!!


Get a gap insurance quote

There’s an excellent video here about GAP Insurance.

As ever, we’d welcome your feedback about your GAP Insurance experiences via this link

FOXY Steph

PS: And if you like the sound of the other things we’re up to on behalf of women drivers you’d better JOIN THE CLUB now – there are plenty of offers and reassurance to make this one of the best motoring deals this year!

A Professional Licence to Skills in the motor industry


I wish I wasn’t surprised to read that “Car dashboard warning lights are beyond the grasp of 98% of British drivers” but I’m not.

It’s another reminder of the realities of life. Car manufacturers are more interested in car sales (than their manuals) and few motorists read these manuals until they have to!

Yet when we have to, at a time of need, these manuals are rarely easy to follow, navigate or comprehend.

Women and their cars

Yesterday I spoke at a WI event in Sussex about motoring matters in general and tyre safety in particular. Yet another occasion to hear disgruntled female feedback here and help women understand more about their cars!

Once again I heard that sharp intake of breath when I tell females that the UK motor industry isn’t regulated when it comes to car servicing, mechanical repairs and used car sales. Few realise or want to consider that anyone could be fixing their brakes, selling them tyres they don’t need or shiny cars that aren’t safe or reliable. Yet most women have shocking tales to tell about bad garage, car and tyre sales experiences their friends have had…

As I see it there is a clear parallel between the absence of minimum quality standards (as in industry regulation or compulsory licensing of all staff) and the subsequent level of complaints about shoddy garage services and used cars, leading to an unacceptable number of unsafe cars on our roads today.

So I then talk to women about ways to find out who the measurably better guys (and a few gals) are and how to find them locally…

Motor industry regulation

“9 out of 10 motorists prefer to deal with an accredited professional” IMI-conducted/independent survey 2014


Thankfully MOT’s are regulated by the DVSA so we can be as sure as we reasonably can be that they are conducted to strict rules and regulations.

And just for the record, we do not want to see the first MOT postponed to 4 years, not 3, as the government is consulting about.

Of course when you visit franchised dealerships, you know that any garage service work has been carried out to car manufacturer standards. Sadly this doesn’t mean that mistakes aren’t made, but if you aren’t happy at least you have a clear complaint’ chain of contact, taking you through the business and towards the new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process that is likely to involve the car manufacturer.

But if you want an accredited professional in an independent garage, bodyshop, car showroom or fast fit emporium you need to know where to look, as things stand. And that means looking for more than just membership of unfamiliar trade associations or testimonials about garages having friendly receptionists. I think it’s more important to check that the workmanship is being done professionally as well.

Best practice motor industry schemes

This is why FOXY looks for evidence of meaningful best practice standards of workmanship before awarding our FOXY Lady Approved status to garages, repairers, car dealers and tyre centres. In 2008 we decided on our minimum measurable quality standards including Chartered Trading Standards Code of Practice schemes (there are three competing service & repair schemes, one new car code and a warranty products scheme), Publicly Available Standards (PAS) for accident repairs alongside ISO and leading tyre auditing schemes.

But there is one standard that sits above them all, in principle, and that’s the industry’s Professional Register, operated by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

The IMI is THE professional association for all individuals working within it, whether in technical-related, management, customer facing, car sales and consultancy roles. Their Professional Register is the only one where listed professionals have committed to ethical standards and undergo a process of accreditation akin to licensing.

Not all IMI members are on the Register. Those that choose to, apply to go through a vetting process and then commit to topping up their skills and knowledge through the collection of customary CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points annually.

And because this isn’t compulsory I am not surprised that some individuals choose not to take the time out to do this or pay for the process?

Yet surely this is the direction this industry MUST be heading, after all the ongoing changes to our cars if only their technology, especially areas affecting road safety?

How to search the IMI Professional Register


The IMI Professional Register allows motorists to search for the best local specialist, based on their need at the time.

Rather than lumping all car services into the category of ‘garage’ it makes good sense to check who, nearest to our postcode, has gone that extra mile to be one of the very best choices in the following technical and mechanical categories.

1/ Accident/bodywork repairs
2/ Air conditioning
3/ Brakes
4/ Car servicing
5/ Diagnostics
6/ Digital/in car technology
7/ Electric cars
8/ Exhausts
9/ Mechanical repairs
10/ MOT’s
11/ Tyres
12/ Windscreen/glass work

There is also a section in the Register showing individuals that are licensed in Car Sales (we need more in this category please…) and there are specialists for Breakdown, HGV, Motorcycles & Electric vehicle services.

NB: Where you come across a Master Technician, he/she is one of the very best in their discipline.

Motor Industry Professional Pride

I am a Fellow of the IMI (FIMI) and proud to be on the IMI Register to demonstrate my superior experience and qualifications within the trade. This puts me on a par with others at the top of our profession and I need to top up my skills with CPD points to have this status renewed after three years.

So I cannot understand why other seemingly career-oriented individuals do not seem to share this pride or want to be seen at the pinnacle of their career at the time. Maybe this is a question of cost and their time? Or could it be the knowledge that they might not look as good as others on paper? Well, isn’t that the point of the Register and future training? To show a willingness to improve standards and our individual professional competence?

More information

This is how to search the IMI Professional Register
a/ Decide which job you need an expert for.
b/ Enter your postcode.
c/ Compare your choices.

The IMI blog includes automotive tips to help you care for your vehicle and to give you confidence when visiting garages.

For details of all signs of measurable quality in UK garages.

FOXY Steph

Join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to be sure of FOXY Lady Approved businesses and standards in future!

More support needed for women to take the lead


I am proud to be a founder member of the Women’s Equality party known as WE.

But like the motoring Club I run, too many men and sadly women think this sort of gender based stuff is simply feminist fluff with us only wanting things all our own way.

We even hear excuses like ‘there aren’t enough women to take the lead’…

Well here we are and I hope you voted for the RIGHT candidates yesterday. Even if it meant taking a ‘risk’ on women for the first time? How else can we prove our mettle if we aren’t given that chance?

But perhaps the email I received from the party this morning might explain why voting for WE (women and men) and supporting FOXY Lady Drivers Club, is all about making things better for women and in turn for men too. It’s important to see the BIG picture before making gender assumptions and simply walking away…

And in the same way as FOXY Lady Drivers Club looks to the motor industry to support it, the WE party looks to men and women alike to support it. Much as the money raised by Sandy’s speaking tour goes towards WE. For us all to do a better job for everyone. Which isn’t difficult, given the state of things in politics and some areas of the motor industry today…

This is the email I received this morning (Friday 6 May 2016).


“We — Catherine and Sandi — founded the Women’s Equality party to shake up politics and push gender equality on to the agenda. We aimed not only to make change directly, but also to influence the old parties to up their game.

Because of you, that has already happened. Our brilliant campaigns in Wales, Scotland and London, each managed locally and powered by our amazing activists, forced all the other parties to focus on issues that too often are sidelined or ignored. WE turned the debate to caregiving and the gender pay gap and violence against women and WE then watched the other parties sidle up to our manifestos and scoop up our policies to repackage as their own.

Together WE have started something — a party, a movement, a realisation that things must change — and the elections were just the start.

Of course we are on the edges of our seats waiting for the results. There’s not one of our candidates who wouldn’t lift the standard of politics and bring the sorts of perspectives that are so badly lacking.

But we are also already celebrating, and what we are celebrating is YOU. You have helped WE to win in making a difference. And when WE win, everyone wins. Because equality is better for everyone.”


Hear, hear. And I support WE because it is the right thing to do.

I’m proud of WE for doing it.

And if YOU haven’t joined WE yet, can I suggest you do so NOW!

Because it’s money they need to stand up to the big budget boys in politics.

Have a look at the WE website please and JOIN US.

And I guarantee that if you are looking for a better motoring deal, women’ll struggle to find a better one than joining FOXY Lady Drivers Club too.

A blog for women about motoring