FOXY Lady is a Top Ten Automotive blog

FOXY Lady blog is one of the Top 10 UK Automotive Blogs in 2017 as ranked by Vuelio from within its Social Media Index.

I write the majority of blogs myself and you’ll soon see that we’re a different sort of motoring-related blog from the norm.

Which makes this badge all the more rewarding.

What Makes FOXY Lady Blog Special?

For starters the FOXY Lady blog has a distinct female flavour and attitude. By that I mean we aren’t just about the latest cars and car reviews (which many do better than us I think) nor do we include a great deal about motor racing and F1.

Instead, we’re a female brand reflecting the FOXY attitude that motoring services can be a lot better for women than many enjoy as is. So FOXY Lady blog reflects our balance of putting the spotlight on best practice whilst being prepared to have a pop at evident motoring cowboys!

In short, FOXY Lady Blog straddles two different audiences which isn’t recommended in marketing spheres (but are inter-related for now) with four big objectives in mind.

1/ To help women buy better value for money garage and car buying services without compromising their safety.

2/ To help automotive businesses (willing to listen!) to understand what women want as consumers and employees

3/ To promote signs of measurable excellence in unregulated business areas – HM Government please note.

4/ To encourage talented and hard working females to consider careers/strive to move up the ladder in the motor industry. Because they are much needed higher up…

Somehow we need to find a way to parachute a veritable explosion of exceptional women into automotive boardrooms that remain resolutely male.

For the evidence is compelling – a more diverse board is better for the bottom line and a more diverse business can more effectively and fairly represent the best interests of a diverse customer base.

How To Become A Top Ten Vuelio Blog

The first myth I’m delighted to dispel is the assumption of some that we’ve probably nominated ourselves in this competitive field! Our presence will no doubt intrigue those that run bigger businesses, post more blogs and employ a dedicated social media resource.

So it’s for this reason that this award matter so much more for FOXY because, as important as we think our messages are for women in particular, we can’t influence the outcome here.

Yes, you have to be on Vuelio’s Social Media database to be ‘innit to winnit’ as they say but most good bloggers will be, knowing that this is where PR professionals expect to find the most influential bloggers in their sphere.

It’s all the more impressive for FOXY Lady Blog to have ‘squeezed’ into Vuelio’s Top Ten Automotive blog listing knowing we’ve been scored by Vuelio’s proprietary algorithm that ranks ALL the media in their massive database. They choose the ten most influential blogs after their automated results have been carefully reviewed by a team of in-house researchers, taking into account the likes of social sharing, topic-related content, post frequency, social media influence, traffic, design and interactivity. I hope you’re as impressed as me!

Clearly this allows Vuelio to demonstrate the strength of its blogger database alongside their associated PR and research services. It’s also true that these awards/rankings set a high benchmark within the blogging industry and act as a resource for existing and potential PR and communications’ agencies to value and enjoy.

How To Get Your Blog Considered By Vuelio

If you write an influential blog and would like it to be considered by Vuelio please submit details to the database email updates@vuelio.com or tweet them using the @Vuelio handle.

Thank you Vuelio for this important ranking and recognition for FOXY Lady blog.

FOXY Steph

WANTED – Female friendly driving instructors across the UK

We’re told it takes more lessons for young women to pass their driving test than young men on average.

Exceptions apply as ever.

An explanation for this might be research suggesting that females of all ages are more nervous than their male counterparts.

But the way I see it is that young women have fewer accidents than (most) young men so isn’t it a good thing to have more lessons, be cautious and take longer to become a better driver?

Regardless of age, I speak to a lot of women who suffer from a lack of driver confidence. Maybe they don’t drive much nowadays so it doesn’t come as naturally as it did. Or perhaps it’s because of our crowded roads and all too frequently reported incidents of road rage.

Many tell me they’re frightened about tackling motorways, driving a new (strange) car and they often struggle to concentrate at times – on a familiar route to work perhaps or after a bad night’s sleep?

Driving Instructors that understand women

This is why FOXY is recruiting a new Register of Driving Instructors that are sympathetic towards our gender perspective and who are ready, patient and willing to make us better drivers at the end of the day.

The theory is that if your Driving Instructor is measurably better than the rest you’ll likely need fewer lessons to pass and if it’s a more enjoyable time at the wheel, you’ll relax and have fun. Why shouldn’t learning to drive be fun as well as informative, whether it’s your first lessons, completing the PassPlus programme, taking your Advanced Motoring test or blacking up for a confidence or motorway driving refresher course.

So if you can recommend a genuinely female friendly Driving Instructor who’s getting things right for women as is, we’d be happy to FOXY Lady Approve them then introduce them to local lady drivers.

FOXY Lady Approved Driving Instructors

To be FOXY Lady Approved, Driving Instructors need to be approved by the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA) and follow the ADI/DVSA voluntary Code of Practice for starters. We then list additional credentials, the various courses they offer and female feedback. We want to know if the Instructor was punctual, friendly and a good teacher, for example. And whether the car was safe, clean and well-maintained? Marks out of 5 please from 1 as in woeful to 5 as in wonderful…

Finally, in exchange for feedback about any FOXY Lady Approved Driving Instructor, their female pupils can claim a free lifetime Online Member subscription to FOXY Lady Drivers Club as a thank you.

No, driving instructors don’t have to be female to be FOXY Lady Approved in fact this is another area to do with motoring where there are many more men doing this job than females. Which is where FOXY can help again – we want to raise awareness among women drivers that being a Driving Instructor is both a satisfying and meaningful career option. So motorists can have a gender choice when it comes to choosing a local Driving Instructor to suit their needs and expectations.

FOXY Steph

For More Information

To recommend a genuinely female friendly Instructor (male or female) please email drivinginstructors@foxyladydrivers.com.

To see who and where the EARLYBIRD Instructors are on board.

To find out how to join us.

Our Valentine’s Day ‘Woman Of The Year’ is Jane Bailey

FOXY Lady Drivers Club’s ‘Woman of the Year’ Award Winner on Valentine’s Day is Jane Bailey of Westgate Tyres in Morecambe.

We first met Jane when she joined the new FOXY Lady Approved Tyre Register and then organised two popular Ladies evenings locally with the proceeds going to the CancerCare charity.

We soon realised that when we didn’t speak to Jane, we spoke to two friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic females in her absence. So many females in any tyre business is very rare indeed.

Fast forward a year and when I was at the Tyresafe Awards last summer my table companion, Alan Baldwin from Micheldever Tyres, told me about Jane and what a remarkable business lady he knew her to be.

A little later on, and in contact with Ashleigh Warren of GiTi Tire UK, Jane was mentioned again…

This time I could not ignore these coincidences any longer.

So I decided to find out Jane’s business story for myself and on the strength of this was delighted to present her with our inaugural Valentine’s Day ‘Woman Of The Year’ Award in Morecambe in front of her husband Graham.

Left to right, the photo is of GiTi Tire UK’s Marketing Manager Ashleigh Warren, Jane’s daughter Emma with grand-daughter Felicity, Steph Savill (FOXY), Jane Bailey, daughter Sophie and Micheldever Tyres’ Area Sales Manager Keith O’Brien.

This is Jane Bailey’s Story (in her own words)

In the 1970’s women were even less likely to be mechanics or tyre fitters than they are today. There was little or no training available for us. So when I left school at 16 I went to work for British Gas for 11 years but my love of cars remained.

In the meantime I had met my future husband Graham who was a fitter with a national tyre company and we got married when I was just 18.

Our first daughter Emma was followed by three miscarriages so we were thrilled when our second daughter Sophie was born eight years later.

How did Westgate Tyres come about?

When the right premises came up for us in 1997 Graham and I (in the photo) jumped at the chance to open our own tyre business which we called Westgate Tyres. This was a scary thing to do because Emma was 10 years old and Sophie just 20 months.

We risked everything to set up the garage but neither of us wanted to look back in later life and regret not having been brave enough to give it a go.

At the beginning I did the book-keeping, planned the tyre promotions and ran the reception area. Sophie spent her early days in a playpen in the waiting room – it was a case of pulling together to keep a roof over our heads.

After working all day at the garage, Graham would look after the girls at night whilst I’d do a stint at the local Asda on the tills until midnight. These were long, hard and tiring days for us both with little outside support but we always knew our hard work would pay off in the end.

As the business grew, so did the administration and promotions so I took the brave step of leaving Asda when Westgate Tyres became our only source of income.

These were precarious financial times when holidays went on hold and we worked 363 days a year bar Christmas and New Year Days. My role as wife, mother and business partner became harder and harder but our efforts were at last starting to pay off, allowing us to employ staff and add new customer services.

When did the rest of the family get involved?

Our daughter Emma (now 29) had started working for us as a Saturday receptionist at the age of 14. She shares our love of cars, of course, owning a Barbie Pink Puma at the age of 17! She now works full time in the business and has two daughters herself, aged 5 years and 6 months.

Unsurprisingly our eldest grand-daughter also loves cars, is often seen in overalls and the pair of them starred in our award-winning Tyre Safety advertising campaign.

Emma’s husband has his own accident repair centre so it’s cars, cars, cars for the whole family.

Our younger daughter, Sophie, is 20, equally as car mad and runs a pimped up Suzuki Swift Sport. She is helping us take the business forward with a fresh eye.

The business is now a GT Radial Performance Centre and we feel we’re fitting trust with every tyre alongside such a fantastic guarantee. Sophie visited the Ascari race track in Spain last year and test drove a selection of vehicles fitted with GT Tyres – they all performed really impressively in both wet and dry conditions.

Sophie’s partner has his own car detailing company so our family businesses all complement each other.

How did you promote your business as different from others?

I’m a strong believer in targeted advertising and have spent years working hard to build awareness of our business.

The tyre industry is very male dominated and doesn’t always have the best of images so my daughters and I work tirelessly to make our business as genuinely female friendly as possible.

So much so that we decided to join the FOXY Lady Approved Tyre Register and work with their motoring club for women to promote our regular Ladies Nights. Our aim is to empower local women with the knowledge and confidence to do their own car maintenance and tyre safety checks.

As a result, Westgate Tyres sees a high percentage of female customers and I honestly believe they visit us because they know women work here. They tell us they’re reassured that they’re understood and always treated with the utmost respect and honesty.

When did your personal health become an issue?

After a couple of years of feeling so ill and so tired that I could put my head on my desk and instantly fall asleep, I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2013.

This is when my world fell apart – I was critically ill and admitted to hospital a week later for major surgery.

My family now had the business to run by themselves whilst worrying about a seriously ill mum and wife. I don’t know how they all held it together but they did – putting on their brave faces, shedding tears in private and going through the motions of keeping the business running as normally as possible in the circumstances.

The Cancercare charity has been a true lifeline for me. It has provided emotional support which you need, especially when you’re self employed. When you’re recovering from major surgery of any kind you need rest, an absence of stress and time for your body to heal. Colon cancer adds additional challenges – you need to get used to a completely new diet and just getting through every day has been a real battle for me.

Trying to recover and keep the business running was extremely difficult but cancer hadn’t beaten me. Within a couple of weeks, I was doing the book-keeping from my bed and visiting the business in a wheelchair. After three years, I’m delighted to report that Mrs B (as the staff all call me) is fighting strong.

During all this I’ve been amazed by how many friends and customers came to talk to me about health concerns before being diagnosed with this cancer themselves. So I now try to raise early awareness of colon cancer whenever I can, including organising a fund-raising event every year.

The fear of having to give up everything we had worked so hard for has certainly pushed me on and, had I worked for someone else, I might have lost my job or not had the unshakeable resolve to keep going, regardless.

What does the future look like today?

After all this, my love of cars is stronger than ever. I particularly love classic cars because they are so stylish, they look very different and they are often a driving challenge. I try to visit as many classic car rallies as I can with either a Morris 1000 or Sunbeam Alpine.

My everyday car is a sporty open-top 150 Mini whilst Graham enjoys his Subaru, Porsche and Nissan Navara!

I’m also very proud of our daughters as ambassadors of our business and now it’s their turn to take things forward and allow me time to focus on myself, for a change.

I am delighted to see such a bright future ahead of them as they start to make their female mark on today’s tyre industry.

I often wonder if my Dad could see how those early days spent encouraging me to help him under a car bonnet would shape the rest of my life! And then that of my daughters and grandchildren, given time!

Jane Bailey, Westgate Tyres
FOXY Lady Drivers Club’s first ‘Woman Of The Year’
Award Winner
Valentine’s Day, 2017

FOXY lays down Kwik-Fit gauntlet

If Kwik-Fit REALLY wants to bury its bad reputation for once and for all, here’s a FOXY gauntlet for you to pick up if need be.

Here’s why we’re suggesting this. Because we’re fed up reading one after another rip off tale of customer woe about Kwik-Fit along these lines…

Clearly this was a set up by the Daily Mail but if Kwik-Fit was doing a proper job they’d have nothing to fear? And instances suggesting incompetence, a lack of business ethics, predatory overcharging, deliberate oversight and inappropriately delegated responsibility simply couldn’t happen without open and transparent consequences for individuals when proven.

So what are you going to do about this, Itochu (who owns Kwik-Fit)?

By all means hope this blows over (but it never has), or that you can sell the business for more profit again (more likely the case) or do something positive to right this perceived wrong.

I’d like to suggest you join our network of FOXY Lady Approved garages and we’ll police your quality standards for you so we can ALL see if complaints are one-offs or clear evidence that you need to consider re-branding?

To meet FOXY Rules

To start the ball rolling…

1/ All Kwik-Fit staff would need to sign the FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell us anything we don’t need’.

2/ All branches would then need to EITHER be on the IMI Professional Register OR be members of a Trading Standards Approved Code of Practice scheme like The Motor Ombudsman, Trust My Garage or Bosch Car Service.

As a result, Kwik-Fit Directors and Centre Managers could not incentivise retail staff to sell certain products or services motorists’ don’t need.

After we investigated a complaint thereafter, should we find a member of staff to blame, then the Manager needs to be disciplined too.

FOXY has its own process, Kwik-Fit needs a more transparent one for sure.

Is this too much to ask of Kwik-Fit?

Sadly I suspect Kwik-Fit won’t sign our Promise (like many other large and well known fastfit repairer groups) because we’re told they do encourage/incentivise staff to sell all motorists things we don’t need. Like new tyres and unnecessary tyre alignment services and such like.

However, if Kwik-Fit is good enough and does want to become a FOXY Lady Approved ie female friendly business, we’ll expect it to deal with customer complaints more robustly and openly wherever exposed. Otherwise we’d out bad businesses to Club members and we’re not at all frightened of big names.

If you want to heal your poor public image, Kwik-Fit and other businesses who run a similar business culture, FOXY’d be a great place to lay down new and ethical rules.

And you’d be doing the good automotive businesses a favour – they’re the ones who keep on being tarnished by your customers’ bad tales, fairly or otherwise.

Give me a ring on 01903 879988 to get the ball rolling. You really must do something here Itochu. After all, assuming it’s not too late, a toxic brand has little sales value re loyalty and a re-branding exercise will be MUCH more expensive in the long run.

FOXY Steph

To have your say. please use Twitter and our @FOXYTweets feed.

Confusing parking signs in Worthing

Here’s a good example of a baffling parking sign in Worthing. It’s in a residential road alongside the hospital and says
P Mon-Sat
10 – 11am
& 2pm – 3pm
Permit holders only H

I find the positioning of the letter P confusing. To me it says visually that you CAN park between the 2 hours specified Mon – Sat. Which implies you can’t at other times?​

But it might mean that only Permit Holders can park during these hours. Or only outside these hours?

And why is the H (as in hospital) relevant?

The point is, do I park here or not? I arrived at 2.30pm and was planning to park for about an hour. I don’t have all day to work this out and yet if I get this wrong I could be looking at a big fine.

In short, this is an unnecessarily stressful encounter.

Expert Parking Advice Needed

Luckily on this occasion I see an approaching Parking Warden.

“What does this sign mean?” I ask.

“It means what it says” he replies.

“Please explain it to me” I asked patiently, determined not to lose it.

“Read the sign” he said unhelpfully, walking on and leaving me speechless.

The more I looked at the sign, the less sure I became and because I didn’t trust the grumpy Warden not to return and book me if I made the wrong call I moved my car to Waitrose’s car park, was late for/shortened my hospital visit and did some food shopping instead.

It can’t just be me. Why do signs have to be this complicated? I wasn’t convinced the Warden understood this one either? Does it mean Councils earn more by baffling us into dubious parking then fining us?

Or was I expected to pay more to park, briefly and less conveniently, in the often overcrowded hospital car park?

By all means post any misleading signs near you at FOXY’s Facebook Page or at Twitter @FOXYTweets and we’ll see if we can get them some much needed attention there.

FOXY Steph
steph@foxyladydrivers.com
Twitter @FOXYTweets.

A blog for women about motoring