Last Saturday I spent time in a planetarium at Sussex University finding out about galaxies, black holes and cosmic strings, being reminded just how small and insignificant we all are in the master plan of the universe.
But it didn’t stop me feeling depressed with the black hole state of things the UK is in after such a seismic and unpredicted referendum result.
And just so I have a record of these times and my thoughts through it all, here are my Top Ten FOXY Pearls of Wisdom I’ve learned during the last week – and they’re not all just about the recent referendum.
1. Never anticipate the outcome of a referendum.
2. Always have a contingency plan for all scenarios.
3. Democracy can mean living with decisions you don’t like.
4. It’s not always appreciated when the ‘usual losers’ are seen to win.
5. Whilst the pound struggles, tourism and manufacturing must exploit competitive advantage.
6. Ageism is on the march again.
7. All forms of racism are abhorrent.
8. Youth prefer the EU status quo vs a DIY future, despite today’s unaffordable housing & university education.
9. Nobody is a good Leader when their team doesn’t respect them.
10. A good Manager tells a football team how to play the game, and clearly England’s wasn’t and didn’t.
We live in interesting times. If ever a multi-faceted coalition government was needed to show us how to go forward together, it’s surely now.
I could go on but won’t. We all need to do our bit to steady the financial ship by working hard to see us through.
As we all know, from adversity and challenges come BIG business opportunities and I have no doubt that the motor industry will rise to these ahead of most others.
But let’s not waste time on deja vu thinking and hatred politics, especially where fuelled by social media, in case we miss out on the many global opportunities in future.
PS: I think women have something to bring to the party. If you haven’t done this already, why not join the Women’s Equality (WE) party to bring some sense to this all? It’s not just for women, of course, because they’re doing something similar to FOXY – addressing female issues so life gets better for men too.
PPS: For some reason I am reminded of the three word answer Mark Rylance’s character in Bridge of Spies always gave when asked why he wasn’t more depressed by his situation. These were ‘Would It Help?’ The answer was ‘No’ of course – and he was treated fairly in the end. Let’s hope there’s a morale in there somewhere?
In his final Question Time interview yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron told us to listen to the economic experts he listed, before we voted in the Referendum on Thursday.
For his expert scenario, he suggested that if an expert mechanic told us our car was dangerous we wouldn’t drive it.
Well, in an ideal world I’d agree with him, but he just happened to pick an unregulated industry where anyone can set up a garage and mechanics don’t have to be licensed to service or repair our cars. And, as a consequence, independent garage complaints are among the highest of all referred to Citizens Advice, other than to do with used car sales – another unregulated area of the motor industry.
So please Mr Cameron, don’t use that analogy again because too many mechanics aren’t experts at all. And you just might be adding to the safety risks too many motorists run already when they trust unscrupulous garage staff.
Which you’ve clearly not experienced yet, hence your Government not seeing the need for regulation in the automotive industry?
Far be it from me to suggest that perhaps the same might be true of so called economists ahead of Thursday’s referendum? Pretending to know what they are doing when they really haven’t a clue?
But whatever happens in the Referendum, I’d like to compare notes with you about this afterwards. The poor state of the motor industry is a very serious matter for women drivers and genuinely good garages suffer such a poor and unjustified image as a consequence.
I’d welcome the opportunity to explain to you how mums like Samantha could so easily compromise their children’s motoring safety by not knowing how to check out a measurably good garage from lesser others. Not just garage but also used cars and tyre safety standards can all be higher but you’d have to see the full industry picture for ALL motorists, not just those that can afford to buy and run posh prestige car makes.
All franchised and independent car dealers that are part of our FOXY Lady Approved networks can use our logo within their Radar Videos to confirm their commitment to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell anything women don’t need’.
That’s a powerful and reassuring statement for those women drivers who find the car buying and showroom experience an intimidating one. That’s women drivers who influence some 80% of all cars bought, remember.
You’ll be seeing more of these videos in future, because they’ll be posted at our FOXY Lady Drivers Club You Tube channel on a regular basis.
Video sells cars
“In my mind and in my car,
we can’t rewind,
we’ve gone too far…”
The Buggles, 1980
As these famous lyrics remind us, when it comes to car videos, there’s no turning back!
Video is what busy women car buyers expect to see, to help them narrow their car shopping choices, before they buy.
FOXY has dabbled in this area beforehand if only to prove this, but now we need to ramp up the quality of our car-related videos, and the following is a good example of how FOXY can do this, promoting similar affinity Suzuki deals to the WI one featured.
In future, branded automotive videos of this quality will help Club members and their family decide on the best car dealers out there and the most suitable car models.
About Radar Video
Radar Video creates TV-quality, interactive car videos branded to represent franchised and independent car dealers. These videos support and encourage leads, sales enquiries and test drive requests from women drivers and will be increasingly used at FOXY’s social media channels.
Video solutions include ones for new cars, approved used, Motability, ex-demo vehicles, pre-registered stock and special car servicing offers. If needed these can be bespoke videos to showcase business strengths, facilities and/or special events.
When done correctly, videos SELL cars. Any dealership yet to embrace video is likely missing out on countless sales opportunities.
In particular Radar Video works with UK car dealers to deliver powerful video solutions that sell cars and maximise ROI – for a fraction of the cost of the traditional advertising portals. After choosing their required marque(s) from some 400 current makes and models, they will transform that choice into a mini-TV ad that’s fully branded and ready to be promoted on social media.
Each video costs £325 plus VAT and contains:
+ A business logo throughout
+ Professional voice-over
+ Background music
+ Special offers
+ Finance illustrations
+ Full contact details including website link
Video packs of six cost £1,500 + VAT.
Once created, Radar Video helps car dealers promote their videos to thousands of potential local buyers using the world’s leading social networks – all for a small advertising budget starting from as little as £1 per day!
We asked Claire from blogzine BrightonMums.com to share her tried and tested family #motoringheroes with us, hacks to help make motoring with young children less stressful than it often is.
Here’s what she told us.
“One of the first harsh lessons you learn as a parent is, outings with children need military style preparation. From getting out of the door for a newborn’s very first walk with the buggy, to baby’s first road trip to see Granny through to the first family motoring holiday adventure; parents find themselves constantly developing strategies for child-friendly travel.
The iPad (or tablet) holder
We took our first long road trip to see friends and family in Newcastle and Edinburgh when our youngest was only 2 years old so we certainly needed something to keep the kids amused and pass the time.
I found an iPad holder which hangs on the back of the front seats for a reasonable prize on Amazon and despite having Frozen and Finding Nemo playing in my ear while driving more times than I ever planned for in my life, it was worth every penny.
The fully charged phone
There’s nothing more annoying than a low phone battery, at any moment of your life. For better or worse, I’ve come to rely on my phone for just about everyone; diary management, e-mails, music and GPS maps.
As a busy, self-employed mum, the one-stop shop for life management allows me to get more done. So a reliable in-car charger is a must. I have one with a Bluetooth connection for the radio, so now I charge the phone while I drive and
brainwash the kids with some awesome 90s tunes!
A bowl or bin
This is the icky side of parenting; sick. But if you don’t prepare, you’ll be caught unawares and it’ll be a whole lot more icky for you and the car. Motion sickness can strike young children when you least expect, so having a handy receptacle children can easily grab in case they feel queasy while you’re driving could save your car upholstery.
Bags don’t really work, they’re a bit of a faff, so we have an old plastic mixing bowl permanently in the car these days.
You also need good ventilation and fresh water bottles.
Car window blinds
There’s a lot of baby and child accessories you can buy these days it’s baffling. And some are most certainly overkill, overselling to parents with disposable income.
But a good car window blind or sunshade is one of the best investments parents can make. It’s not one to scrimp on either, as poor quality products don’t stand the test of time and this is something kids benefit from until they’re out of car seats.
One of our favourite baby product companies, Munchkin, do a great window roller blind for the car. Sheer style sunshades which fix with suckers are great for older kids, as they can still take in their surroundings out of the window.
What’s that got to do with motoring? I hear you ask? Well all these items make the whole experience more manageable for me but here’s my final and really important #motoringhero for now…
National Trust properties
On long car journeys to see family and friends in England and Wales, instead of taking breaks in grimy service stations we look for a National Trust property en route instead.
And surprisingly, you don’t have to go too far off course to find a hidden gem in their network. There’s often a great café, clean toilets, activities for the kids (especially during school holidays) and a fascinating piece of national heritage to look at. Which is a no-brainer when the alternative is low nutritional value, low taste Burger King or the WH Smith’s Ginster selection with slot machines setting the hum of a polluted motorway.”
Thank you Claire for your tried and tested child-friendly #motoringheroes based on your family travelling experience.
Excellent ideas for motoring grans too of course!!
Do you and your family take long trips in the car?
What items do you swear by to keep family motoring stress-free?
If it’s easier to share your family motoring stories and hacks at Facebook or Twitter we look forward to seeing you there.
I attended Car Dealer Expo (CDX16) at Silverstone last month and decided to write up about the Women in the Motor Industry session based on progress made.
The 2016 panel included professional stunt driver and event manager Annalese Ferrari; founder of the UK Automotive 30% Club Julia Muir; Head of Sales at GardX Amanda Massey and freelance motorsport journalist Georgie Shaw.
Great speakers all, this session was professionally and sympathetically hosted by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez who didn’t seem at all hampered by her self-declared lack of knowledge about the behind the scenes workings of the macho car industry!
The Women In The Motor Industry session was the first of its kind in 2015 when that female panel of four talked about their careers in garages, dealerships, finance and motor sports. But for me the really interesting part was the Question Time that followed.
The ongoing promotional girls divide
Of particular note in 2015 was the shared disapproval of the use of pretty promotional girls employed by Gardx in skin tight clothing. I recall one individual describing how totally offended she’d been by them on arrival at Silverstone that she nearly didn’t attend the conference. Just imagine this issue offending female customers who did walk away and took their business elsewhere?
A senior representative of that business (GardX) was at the 2015 session and stuck up for the rights of these women to wear what they had to, ie what GardX provided, to earn a crust. And of course we must assume that GardX does this for the gratification of men – albeit a decreasing fan club in today’s business arena.
I fall into the uncomfortable camp here, preferring a more feminine and less overtly sexy uniform (I suggested retro-style Goodwood-like frocks to GardX afterwards in an email exchange) as more elegant and less likely to offend influential female customers in future. So I was interested to see and hear whether this topic had been addressed by GardX or would be mentioned again in 2016.
Not just mentioned but top of the bill, with Amanda Massey from GardX on the 2016 Women in the Motor Industry panel, quick to defend the company’s promotional females on the day, as in the photograph.
And whilst I am sure the majority of the female audience felt as uncomfortable as I did about this, clearly the audience thought it would have been rude to challenge a role model speaker on this occasion – and what good might this have done anyway after raising this at #CDX15?
Gender differences in the automotive industry
Other issues discussed in the Women In The Motor Industry session at #CDX16 included
* The image of the motor industry in female minds and who/which industry body should be responsible for the defence/protection of this much maligned image? This matter was also discussed by the guys on a central stage session during the day – shame these discussions couldn’t be joined up?
* The critical influence of parents (especially Mums’) re: female careers. Few of whom see the motor industry as either female friendly or a professional career destination compared to many others…
* The tendency for women to lack confidence (or be too honest?) when applying for new job roles. Compared to overly confident males with less ability who apply and succeed because stronger female candidates didn’t challenge them.
* The reality that not all females who work in the motor industry are petrolheads or mechanically inclined (or should be expected to be).
Of particular note was an inspirational contribution from an upbeat Lucy Burnford who, like me wasn’t a motor industry person, but whose innovative car passport idea has been acquired, adopted and enhanced by The AA. Good on her.
I should also mention Julia Muir’s good work to encourage more females into key leadership roles.
The other contribution I particularly liked was from a female whose name I missed again but with whom I totally identified. She wanted to be known for her professional skills (she was a marketer/communicator like me) and not just for being a woman in the motor industry.
A BIG GENDER DEBATE
I’ll now leave you with a further observation that I believe is relevant based on my gender studies in this marvellous, mysterious and murky motor industry. It’s simply that the main gender difference I find is that most men think the motor industry is about cars and engines. Whereas most females, including me, think it’s about the people.
And we’re both right of course, but the industry has yet to get this balance right in business.
So what I suggest is a BIG GENDER DEBATE to get all these issues aired, addressed and sorted in future.
* One where we all LISTEN to each other, LEARN and CHANGE where necessary.
* One where both genders can express their honest views and experiences, be heard and feel appreciated for their equal contribution within this industry.
Not one where the men are seen to tolerate token gender equality by letting little women have their say in a sideroom, before continuing with the status quo, because certain CEOs think ‘it ain’t broke…’
* One where we all understand and accept that equality doesn’t mean men and women think the same or want to be treated the same – either as staff or customers.
* One that recognises that women are now the dominant car and garage services’ shoppers and we say ‘the motor industry IS broke for us…’
* One that has the strategic objective to attract more of the most talented women into the car industry, for otherwise we are recruiting from just 50% of the talent pool, whilst other industries cherry-pick this female talent ahead of us.
* One where we learn respect for each other from the Boardroom to the workshop floor, in showrooms, parts departments and independent garages. Sadly mutual respect isn’t always there; we also need to instil that respect for our industry in all motorists. But that’s a different story…
In the absence of a BIG GENDER DEBATE as yet (which I’m happy to organise, subject to a suitable sponsor), engagement initiatives like #CDX16, organised in the main by Car Dealer Features Editor Sophie Williamson-Stothert, are each in their way such an important step forward with a view to a healthier and more diverse automotive industry in future.
So let me end by thanking the many insightful men and women here who are helping the retail motor industry move from its shameful 2% of female employees stance, towards a healthier business future, one step at a time…
We are all determined to get there and the industry will thank us when we do!
PS: Please see my Steph Savill website stephsavill.co.uk for details of my consultancy services in this area, including public speaking.