For pink (aka magenta?) car drivers

simplypinkbeaulieuExcluding PinkStinkers we imagine, we’re told that pink is very much in vogue today in the motoring world. We have the Techno Pink Chevrolet Spark, the Fuchsia Renault Twingo, the Hot Magenta Ford Fiesta, the Idol Pink Fiat 500 and lots of pink special editions from Citroen alongside its Benefits Cosmetics promotions.

With other makes and models in pink (aka magenta) of course.

And apparently there is a thriving aftermarket trend for re-spraying cars in this vivid hue – a fashion that seems to have passed us by in sleepy rural Sussex…

So having convinced us all that there are a lot of pink car drivers about, the motoring attraction that is Beaulieu is inviting you to take part in an inaugural Simply Pink rally on 31 May 2015.

Pink Motoring History

Undoubtedly pink has long had a cult among brave motorists who want to stand out in a crowd and who don’t mind if there aren’t many takers when they want to sell their car.

In the 1950s, American car manufacturers celebrated the optimism of the new post-war era with brightly-coloured Cadillacs, Fords, Chevrolets and more; pink was the most daring colour on the options list. As transatlantic style came to Europe, glitzy British models such as the Vauxhall Cresta PA embraced two-tone pink colour schemes.

In 1961, as the Morris Minor became the first ever British car to sell one million units, 350 examples of the special edition ‘Minor Million’ were built, all finished in a cheerful shade of lilac with white leather interior trim.

In 1989, the special-edition Mini Rose added a dash of colour to its white bodywork with a contrasting pink roof, a colour scheme shared by the latest DS3 from Citroen.

Event information

The Simply Pink event is supporting Breast Cancer Campaign and drivers plus passengers in cars that are rose, lilac, lavender or any other shade of pink are all welcome.

Entry is from 9.30 am on 31 May and prices are £10 for an adult plus a £2.50 donation to Breast Cancer Campaign and £5 for any children.

This is better value than it might seem because it includes entry to all the fab family Beaulieu attractions such as the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, On Screen Cars, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey.

You can purchase tickets in advance from the Beaulieu website or by calling 01590 612888.

Other events are listed on the Beaulieu website.

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PK Automotive Solutions gets it right in Lincoln

I pride myself in sensing a naturally female friendly business when I walk into one. When this is part of a business compliance check (for FOXY Lady Approved garages or car dealers) there are a lot of clues to help me here. I’ll have had a look at their website in advance to look for details of their staff team, evidence of a commitment to quality standards, clean looking/functional customer facilities and an absence of unnecessary jargon.

I’ll have checked for membership of a Trading Standards Institute scheme, to see if there are licensed staff on the IMI’s Professional Register, evidence of other training courses/qualifications or local awards and any special customer services.

pk_exteriorI found all this and more at PK Automotive Solutions in Lincoln owned and run by Paul Killingsworth. Female staff, a smart business park environment (many garages are in off-putting industrial estates), modern premises, an enlightened and enthusiastic boss, time-saving tablet-based technology and a commitment to giving back to the motor industry.

The last bit is rare. Both PK Automotive and FOXY share an agenda for a licensed motor industry in future.

Our paths first crossed when I was doing some research about female apprentices. My client asked me to talk to a sample of young females including PK Automotive Solution’s Lois Lane. Since then PK has joined our FOXY Lady Approved garage network and is the only female friendly approved independent garage in Lincoln.

I met and interviewed Lois, an Apprentice Technician who is currently working towards her Level 2 in Light Vehicle Automotive Engineering. She is very keen and motivated and certainly well on the road to being a top technician. Watch this space.

Another two females can be found in the reception area of the business.

Rachel Henry is PK’s Administration Assistant (pictured behind the reception desk below) who was initially employed as an office apprentice but has since achieved her NVQ level 2 & 3 in Customer Service.

pk_receptionAmy Kent is the Office Manager who, after taking her initial apprenticeship, then took an advanced apprenticeship in Business Administration and NVQ levels 2 & 3. She has since completed her NVQ level 3 in Business Management.

And knowing this business’ hunger for knowledge and staying ahead of the rest, there will surely be more courses on offer for all who want and need them.

So I wasn’t at all surprised to see that PK Automotive has achieved the IMI Recognised Employer status and was recently presented with the plaque by Michelle Barrett from the IMI and the local MP for Lincoln, Karl McCartney. This scheme ensures that PK’s customers can have the confidence that their car is in safe hands, and that any technician working on their car has the skills, knowledge and expertise to be able to complete the job to the highest standard.


The photograph marks the occasion of PK Automotive being presented with the IMI Recognised Employer status. From left to right; John Forrest (PK), David Holloway (PK), Lois Lane (PK), Paul Killingsworth (PK), Elaine Killingsworth (PK), Karl McCartney (Conservative MP, Lincoln),  Michelle Barrett (Business Development Manager, IMI), Amy Kent (PK), Rachel Henry (PK).

As I mentioned earlier, PK Automotive Solutions and FOXY are each pro-actively backing the IMI campaign to introduce licensing in the automotive sector. This means, if this is successful, that only professionals with relevant and sufficient qualifications, expertise and skills  will be able to undertake repairs on vehicles in future, ensuring customers safety and guaranteeing their peace of mind.

Karl McCartney, MP for Lincoln, also supports the IMI’s move for the automotive sector to be more regulated.

“I was very pleased to present the IMI plaque to Paul Killingsworth of PK Automotive as a result of the team’s 100% attainment of the IMI Employer Recognition Scheme.

“I am a proud champion of consumer safety and customer satisfaction and can foresee that, with the advent of ever more technically complex vehicles, and eventually driver-less cars, it is of the utmost importance that customers can trust their lives to the work done in all garages, whether large or small, both now and in the future.”

We are proud to be working with and promoting PK Automotive Solutions to local women drivers as well as ‘leaning in’ to the licensing debate together. This is the only way forward for our industry to be seen as professional, so motorists receive the service levels they deserve with a view to their road safety and wallet.

FOXY Steph

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Choosing a female friendly car repairer

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Women drivers need to know who to trust and where to take their cars for repairs to everyday motoring bumps, dents, scuffs and dings.

These are typical cosmetic car damage we ALL collect.

When we’re parking, for example, but more often (or so it seems to me) caused by careless and short-sighted others wielding trolleys, buggies, opening car doors and reversing recklessly in busy car parks.

Just like the garages women visit for MOTs, car servicing and mechanical repairs we all want to know where the genuinely female friendly accident and cosmetic repairers are in our area.

What are cosmetic car repairs?

Cosmetic car repairs affect the look of your car, your perceived status sometimes and ultimately your driving pleasure. If your car LOOKS good it’s no secret that you FEEL good and it seems to drive better too. Funny that!

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Cosmetic repairs are also known within the motor industry as SMART repairs (as in Small to Medium Area Repair Techniques). Few females know of this acronym so perhaps that’s the first point to make here. A SMART* vehicle repairer is therefore a specialist cosmetic car repairer…

*not to be confused with the SMaRT Garage Group that does service and repair work in South London and Salford… and who are part of the #FOXYLadyApproved garage network. Sorry to confuse you!

We all need cosmetic vehicle repairs at some stage.

By that I mean
+ Alloy wheel refurbishment
+ Car interior repairs
+ Car valeting
+ Cosmetic car park dings
+ Paintless dent removal
+ Pre sale tidy up
+ Scuffs and scratches
+ Vehicle recovery service
+ Wheel alignment

Remember that a pristine looking car will sell ahead of one that’s evidently been in a few supermarkets too many. My mother in law had her car tidied up before selling it recently and it flew off the shelf – she sold it to the first caller at the asking price.

What surprised me most, looking at prices recently, is that cosmetic repairs cost less than I imagined, and this price list from the Just Car Clinics group will give you an idea of the costs to budget for….

How to find a good accident or cosmetic car repairer

It isn’t easy to find a good cosmetic car repairer online.

Even Google doesn’t know the difference between a ‘service and mechanical repair’ garage and an ‘accident and cosmetic repairer’. To see what I mean, search for ‘cosmetic car repairs’ and you’ll find loads of ‘service and (mechanical) repair’ garages.

That’s such a waste of our shopping time and very misleading, especially when we might end up handing our car over to a garage that might have a go (but has no skills or license to do the work) or charge us a handling fee to simply pass the work on to one of their chums who may or may not be any better.

Even the motor industry lumps ‘repairs’ into one category when motorists are likely to be searching for ‘repairs’ yet looking for the best ‘mechanical’, ‘accident’ and/or ‘cosmetic’ repairer to suit the job in hand.

When all women want to know is who and where are the best local approved repairers we can trust not to rip us off.

In short, we want a repairer that’s best qualified to do this specialist job, but few women (or men) know what the best standard is.

We might choose a national network like FOXY Lady Approved Just Car Clinics or favour a specialist repairer for a make of car, like Ford Accident Repair Centres (a handful are FOXY Lady Approved to date). Or a specialist in a particular field such as upholstery or alloy wheel repairers.

When it comes to more major car accident repairs, FOXY looks for the Kitemark specification (known as BS10125) in bodywork repairs. Most of the leading insurers require this for their repairer networks.

Another sign of measurable quality is membership of the VBRA (Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association) that operates the only Trading Standards Code of Practice scheme. And if you can find an expert for the work you require listed at the IMI’s Professional Register at least you know that person is licensed to do the job.

When it comes to cosmetic repairs some say a mobile resource (one that might assemble a tent outside your home or office to complete the likes of spray paint repairs there) is less able to achieve the same consistent paint finish because of the outdoor/weather variant. But it might suit you better and be a quicker solution? Either way we haven’t the customer feedback to confirm this comment either way as yet.

Needless to say, after an accident and all the stress this brings, you want a business that is particularly female friendly – a business that understands how unsettling this can be.

Remember that this industry doesn’t require individuals to be licensed to carry out repairs so, whatever your foxy choice, go for a business that has clearly invested in licensed/trained staff who are more likely to provide higher standards than others.

Very often a good accident repairer will be a good cosmetic repairer because of the synergy in skills. They are likely to be experts in panel sourcing/beating, paint spraying and/or the economic supply of the best value (NB: be wary of the cheapest…) replacement parts.

You’ll also find networks of specialist often franchised services offering car valeting, alloy wheel repairs, windscreen replacements and such like. Needless to say perhaps, it’s the same old jungle out there for females so choose a female friendly approved one, where given the choice.

Here’s an example of typical repair charges at a FOXY Lady Approved female friendly accident repair group, Just Car Clinics.

Here’s the list of the latest FOXY Lady Approved garages (for MOT, servicing and mechanical repairs) and REPAIRERS (as in bodywork, accident and cosmetic car repairs).

Here’s how to provide female feedback about any local accident repairer (good or bad)

Here’s how to provide female feedback about any local cosmetic car repairer (good or bad)

We can then share your feedback re local accident repairs within the Club for the benefit of local women drivers.

FOXY’s final advice when shopping for car repairs?

We say

1 Always look for/ask about signs of measurable quality whatever the car repair you require.
2 As tempting as a cheap price is, don’t decide on the basis of price alone – this is an unlicensed industry remember.
3 Don’t put up with excessive repair delays after an accident and poor, patronising or overcharged work of course.
4 Where you can, choose a FOXY Lady Approved repairer in your area.
5 Tell us if you have cause to complain about any UK repairer via the Feedback area of the top righthand menu area of the website.

If we can help sort things out, we’ll add our voice to the female cause.

By choosing a FOXY Lady Approved ie female friendly accident repairer and/or cosmetic car repairer everybody wins in the end, just as soon as women realise they have a female friendly choice and don’t make do with repairers that clearly aren’t.

Please help us spread the word by telling your friends…

FOXY Steph

NB: Sadly cars that were accident write offs are allowed back on our roads without an insurance bill of health (see eBay for examples of this). Whilst that’s a subject for a different blog I couldn’t live with myself if a repairer I chose to repair my car did the job SO BADLY that this caused a serious accident to the person I next sold my car to…

How about you?

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What shoes do you wear when driving?

2012 Tods Gommino Driving Shoes with Front Tie Pink 04A man I know in Steyning wears flipflops all summer long and won’t be told why he shouldn’t drive in them too.

But that’s men for you; they think they know best about lots of things, but let’s stick to footwear here!

As you know, gender matters are very much my subject so I was intrigued by a 1st Central Insurance website suggesting that many men and women see motoring footwear in a very different light from each other.

Research based on the answers given by visitors completing their useful roadrule-ette test suggests that many more women than men (c50% vs 18%) changed into comfortable driving shoes, as many as 4 out of 10 females were fussy about their choice of motoring footwear and nearly twice as many women than men (19% vs 11%) have a favourite pair of shoes they prefer to drive in.

All of this rang true with me. In fact my car is so full of shoes I probably need to check whether my motor insurance covers them all. I have several pairs of high heels in the boot to don if I’m off to a posh evening do. Then there’s my Hunter wellies in case I get caught out in floods or snowfall (??) and my favourite Gandys flipflops at the opposite end of the weather scale when I might find myself with time to spare and a beach within reach during my summer travels.

But none of these are driving shoes of course and I wouldn’t feel at all comfy or safe driving in them even if they were.

My most comfortable driving shoes are a pair of posh satin slippers that I ended up taking on holiday to Greece because they were so comfortable I forgot to change into my holiday trainers before the airport taxi arrived… Then there are Converses and ballet pumps that seem to meld with my car’s foot pedals to make my driving smoother, safer and more enjoyable.

Incidentally I learned a few new things from the roadrule-ette website. As I suspect you might too. Good luck with the question about a 10% speeding allowance – I got that answer wrong but please don’t tell the IAM.

FOXY Steph

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What women think of car dealers

women expect moreThe female friendly business case is a simple one in the masculine motor industry. We expect higher standards than those that men seem resigned to and we want them NOW…

This matters because the number of women drivers will soon overtake men on UK roads and busy females are increasingly looking for service levels that recognise their needs and exceed their expectations. Sadly this is not happening in many cases today.

For the time being, female perceptions seem at an all time low when it comes to car shopping, as confirmed in a recent (2014) survey of c2600 women drivers carried out by Good Housekeeping. This revealed that:

+ The majority of women think car dealerships can be more female friendly

+ 70 per cent of women had experienced car salesmen ignoring them in favour of a male companion

+ the final car buying decision about a family is usually a joint gender decision for 53 per cent

+ 43 per cent of women made the car buying decision alone

+ 49 per cent find car sales staff patronising

+ 36 per cent felt vulnerable and lacked confidence visiting car dealerships

+ Some 25% felt that the tone used by car salesmen was disrespectful

+ Only 18 per cent of women felt that the car sales staff communicated all the details they required in language they understood

Clearly the only way is up for this industry which is why the genuinely female friendly car dealers need to join forces via us to get the message out that there is a female choice of used and new car dealers where this doesn’t happen.

Genuinely female friendly dealers that meet our standards can apply to become FOXY Lady Approved and together we will help restore female trust levels. But if any dealer joins us thinking we’ll simply turn on a tap of foxy ladies they’ll be mistaken because the business needs to meet our compliance standards ie demonstrate their female friendly dealer credentials before we can reassure local women about them.

Luckily for the good guys (yes they are usually male) we are a unique and highly professional marketing service, used to marketing to women (so that’s a good start) and together we can drive up standards by sharing feedback among the willing to learn (shameless sales plug over…).


It’s time the industry had a good look at itself, warts and all, as female customers see them. Here are a few clues…

+ We don’t want to haggle.

+ We don’t want to read about innocent car buyers being overcharged because they walk into a new car dealership at the wrong time of the month/year and pay a higher price than they might do otherwise.

+ We don’t want to be sold extras we don’t need.

+ We don’t want to read about cheap cars being sold without service histories or handbooks (when surprise, surprise they go wrong).

+ We’re fed up with ‘holier than thou’ promises re car warranties that offer less protection than the Sale of Goods Act.

And we want competitive financial products too…

What an industry! Let’s get some licensing safeguards in here as soon as possible.

Time for MotorCodes to look at the New Car Code of Practice; to make licensing compulsory for car sales staff as per the IMI’s Professional Register; to up the minimum used car sales/warranty standards to meet fussy female needs (and delight fed up beleaguered male motorists in the process).

Getting service levels right for women means upping standards for all in this industry. The time is right for doing this and I want to be involved in creating the more female friendly motor industry that women clearly want and deserve.

Rant over for now…

FOXY Steph

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