FOXY’s Female Motoring Manifesto for 2015

everyoneshouldtrytodobetterIn today’s society perceptions are what matters, right or wrong.

The motor industry is perceived to be too blokey therefore it is…

Women are perceived to be bad drivers therefore we must be?

Women are perceived to know or care less about motoring safety and car maintenance than men, therefore that’s true too…

Clearly much of this is total nonsense and a large pinch of reasonableness is needed to sweeten the gender pill. Much better surely to say ‘some motoring businesses can be more female friendly’, ‘some men are better drivers than some women’ and ‘some women delegate their motoring safety to men… who may well know as little about this as they do‘.

Undoubtedy there is much work still to be done to identify the genuinely female friendly motoring businesses and to encourage women to visit these garages more often, to do with their personal safety. Or for them to feel confident enough to go forth and buy a new car, without the perceived need to take an honorary male with them for moral support.

So, based on a better knowledge of female (largely unimpressed) motoring perceptions than most, here is FOXY’s Female Motoring Manifesto for 2015 in the hope that we can encourage important changes through some shared resolutions to make a difference in future with women in mind.

1. MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FEMALES IN MOTORSPORT

There are lots of fast women racers who cannot show off their talents because available sponsorship money goes first to young men. But who might have anticipated that women could play football, cricket and rugby to rival the men’s game or fight on the front line perhaps, as well as men. So why shouldn’t some females be capable of driving as fast as some men in future? And have dedicated races to prove this? I predict they’d be a PR scoop, whatever.

NB: If any business is thinking of sponsoring a female driver and would like an introduction to an up and coming girl racer, ask us for an introduction.

2. MORE WOMEN IN EXECUTIVE ROLES IN AUTOMOTIVE BOARDROOMS

The motor industry is slow to recognise the business case for more females in UK automotive boardrooms. Female executive directors who are then tasked to ensure the business is genuinely a female friendly employer and to be a role models for the future talent pipeline.

NB: The right internal candidate is likely better placed to do this than an external Non Executive Director without experience of the business culture.

3. MORE WOMEN IN CAR SALES ROLES

There are sound business reasons for having more females selling cars. They don’t come with an Arthur Daley reputation, they understand what females want and they may well be more honest/better informed than some male salesmen. Give women a try.

NB: Businesses may need to be more flexible to appeal to the right women, especially those looking for evenings and weekend work.

4. MORE COMMUNITY GARAGE/CAR SALES EVENTS

Many women would like to know more about their car care and by organising regular ladies evenings this is an excellent way for local businesses to demonstrate their community spirit and establish a relationship of trust with local ladies.

NB: Contact us to promote any ladies evenings at the Club website.

5. CLEANER GARAGES, ESPECIALLY WASHROOMS, WITH WOMEN IN MIND

There is no excuse for dirty garages today whether these are independently owned or franchised. As a minimum customers should be able to rely on a clean washroom that is regularly inspected/cleaned, not one that is all too evidently shared with mechanics or used as a kitchen facility by staff.

6. INDUSTRY STAFF TO BE LISTED ON A PROFESSIONAL REGISTER

The industry has a poor image. All motorists should be able to rely on their car being repaired by a licensed technician. All customers buying a new or used car should be able to rely on professional advice and ethical behaviour. Whilst there may be more than one accredited route to that licensing goal, the end result should be that all staff are listed on one industry ie the IMI Professional Register.

7. DON’T LEAVE CAR MAINTENANCE TO MEN

This is a wake up call for women who either think that a nearly new car doesn’t need maintaining before its first MOT or that the condition of the car they drive is up to their husband, partner or Dad. When the Police stop her because her car has no tax or MOT, she gets the fine, the points and the higher insurance premium. If her car causes an accident and is then proven to be unroadworthy through negligence, she is to blame – nobody else.

8. HAGGLE FREE NEW CAR PRICES

It is patently unfair that she/he who knows when to haggle gets a better new car deal than she/he who doesn’t know to haggle. Or that she thinks a man can negotiate a better deal. It’s time for more honesty, ethics and transparency in car showrooms and less ‘smoke and mirror’ sales tactics designed to confuse the vulnerable with part exchange and car finance permutations.

9. MORE WOMEN IN WORKSHOPS

If she wants to be a mechanic give her a chance. Make her welcome… Consider mechanically-minded Mums as future MOT testers. Encourage female apprentices via your local school. Young females are outperforming young males in Science and Maths at GCSE levels, women can use diagnostic tools too, many are more conscientious completing task schedules and are often better organised.

10. MAKE TEST DRIVES MORE FUN

Too many females delegate test drives to men. Too many females buy the same car make again simply because of the familiarity of the drive. Too many solo women lack the confidence to take a test drive with a solo man and too many Mums are distracted by children…

As a result, too many cars are sold that aren’t necessarily the best buy for her. A fun test drive, with children catered for where appropriate and a female member of staff tasked to make sure this is the right car for her, should be a key part of a female friendly car buying experience.
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Those businesses that, hand on heart, tick all these boxes deserve recognition for getting this right. But the reality is, very few businesses will be able to tick all the boxes that COULD apply to them.

Nonetheless it’s important to have measurable goals and hopefully FOXY’s Manifesto will encourage more businesses in the motor industry to look at their strategic gender agenda with a view to becoming a more female friendly business and employer in 2015. Because, with more independent, wealthy and influential women drivers, who are rarely as impressed by local motoring services as they should be, it’s time for female friendly garages and dealers to see this as a means of stealing genuine competitive advantage in the female mind.

Here’s wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2015.

FOXY Steph

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Five used car buying mistakes to avoid

Sophie MumIn the rush to buy a great new set of wheels, it’s sometimes easy to move too quickly and make basic (and often costly) mistakes. Buying second hand can save you lots of money – maybe up to 40% off a new car, so here are five simple things to avoid when buying your next pre-loved car.

1/ Rushing in

We know what it’s like – the car looks great, the price is good, but you’re not sure and the salesman is giving a good pitch, ‘there’s someone else interested’; ‘I’ll offer you a special price’ and so on.

Everyone likes a deal, but don’t forego the basic checks – registration details, service history etc. If the car is right for you, it’ll still be there when you’ve checked it out properly. Websites such as www.honestjohn.co.uk can help you check out your potential car’s history.

2/ Not being selective about your choice of seller

Of course, using a dealer that offers official Ford warranties and checks, as well as RAC inspections, such as JenningsFordDirect, provides more reassurance than most, but there are lots of ways to buy a used car and making sure you use the right option for you is essential.

If you know a lot about cars, private sales may not daunt you. But if you’re less of an expert, a high quality dealer is likely to take away some of the stress.

3/ Failing to ask enough questions

Before you close the deal find out what the price includes. Does it come with an ‘approved’ vehicle check, a verification check like HPI and a reassuring warranty that’s better than the typical 3 months?

Be sure to check other things out too; ask to see documents such as the V5C registration documents, MOT certificates and service history details. Ask how the new DVLA car taxation rules will affect you ie when can you tax the car, remembering that you can no longer drive away a ‘new’ car you’ve just bought when it’s still taxed by the previous owner.

Turn detective and worry if the seller seems less than keen to answer your questions or provide the information you’re asking for.

4/ Paying the list price!

Admittedly it’s not terribly British and few females know how far to go here, but don’t assume you have to pay the asking price – especially if you’re paying cash.

Remember you’re the one in a strong position – there are thousands of cars for sale and you, as a buyer, are a very valuable asset.

Thisismoney.co.uk has valuable tips about haggling, as well as advice on assessing potential repair costs and hidden money traps.

5/ Not trying it out for size

There’s a reason that test drives exist. Rather like the motoring equivalent of the changing room, the test drive lets you try out your prospective car for size. From the very practical ‘can I reach the pedals comfortably?’ and ‘is my vision good enough in this car?’ to the rather more subjective ‘do I feel good in this?’ test driving gives you the opportunity to sample how owning the car will feel day-to-day.

And if it doesn’t feel totally right, don’t be afraid to walk away because there will be another better car that’s right for you, given shopping time.

guestblog This is a Guest Blog from Jennings Ford Direct, part of Jennings Motor Group, the North East’s largest independent car dealer group. All used Ford cars come with a package of reassuring benefits including comprehensive HPI and RAC checks as well as an impressive 2 year warranty.

NB: Jennings has won Ford’s prestigious ‘Chairman’s Award’ on 17 separate occasions over the last 20 years.

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Let’s pick on women drivers, again, says Erin

how-can-women-be-bad-drivers-if-we-never-let-them-out-of-the-kitNot content with winding women drivers up in November, Erin Baker (Telegraph Cars MD) has posted the same feature again in December about why women drivers drive her mad.

And mad she clearly is. According to her ‘some’ women drivers need to up their game. Shock horror. She’s right of course in the same way as ‘some’ male drivers cause the most serious accidents.

But by using her sensational heading she has seriously raised my hackles which is not to be recommended.

Now I must confess I’m not 100% sure where my biological hackles live when they’re at home but when they are raised, my jaw strengthens in a contentious pout, my temples tingle and I imagine my face takes on a rouge-ish bad tempered look.

Not a pretty sight and one we can all do without at this time of merry festive cheer to all men (and women…).

So what do women drivers do so badly?

This is the gist of Erin’s Queen Bee vitriol…

1/ That ‘some’ women drive badly?

I’m sure she’s right.

2/ That some women sit in the outer lane encouraging others to undertake?

That’s back to the Highway Code naughty step for you Erin…

3/ That ‘woolly-like’ women were wrong to say ‘no’ to raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph?

Despite admitting that today’s de facto speed is c80mph already (allowing for 70mph plus a 10% tolerance plus 2mph) could it be that these ‘woolly-like’ females calculated that if 70mph = 79mph in real life then 80mph = a real life speed of 90mph for those drivers that will always push the envelope to its limit. Which is then too fast, say I.

And a few other barbed comments reserved for women drivers…

Anger management controls when driving

Of course Erin’s internal anger is her personal problem but the fact she sees bad female drivers everywhere she turns is something she needs to address.

To help her, I’d recommend she attend one of the excellent Ladies Garage Evenings we promote especially one where the speakers include Vic Botterill. His presentation is called ‘Painting your Face from Within’ and makes the simple point that if you start driving as a miserable git (Vic’s words) that’s what you’ll be to others. Vic’s personal beef used to be men in hats – it was always a man in a hat when he looked at an offending driver. For others it’ll be caravanners, women or so-called boy racers…

But when it’s women drivers, it’s usually men being critical about us, because many of them find it impossible to accept that we might be the statistically safer gender when it comes to serious accidents. Granted these are usually caused by younger males where testosterone and an unfortunate inability for some to say no to a cocktail of drink, drugs and driving are recognised factors.

But again – this is a small minority and I wouldn’t dream of tarring a complete gender with the same brush…

Encouraging women to be better drivers

I’d much prefer Erin uses her considerable writing skills to produce constructive and supportive motoring articles encouraging us all to be better drivers. By all means start by berating us for not being as good a driver as she so clearly considers herself to be (hoping nobody reads her earlier feature about ‘where’s my spare tyre and what do I do with it’…) then she might move into a positive gear making recommendations about confidence courses or the supportive advice and information we provide for women, for starters.

After all, Erin could be a veritable role model amongst us foxy ladies, were more women to read the Telegraph Cars supplement than do already…

But why would any of us want to read this if this is the sort of ‘holier than thou’ motoring attitude and abuse we’d find, written by a member of our own sex?

And one who clearly knows what marital stress is all about, how this affects men and women differently yet seems to have neither tolerance nor time for the rest of us in the same busy lifeboat?

FOXY Steph

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other”
memorably said by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

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Simplify the School Run with an MPV

The-school-run

In the morning, as many as one in five cars on the road during peak hours is said to be doing the school run. Just imagine how stressful that can be on crowded roads with children who instantly sense how Mum is feeling and often refuse to cooperate!

Luckily there are a few things you can do to make sure the daily school runs operate as smoothly as possible.

Choose the right car for the school run

The first and most important part of the school run is your mode of transport. The ideal family vehicle of choice here? We say the MPV meaning a Multi Purpose Vehicle which is surely the perfect car to accommodate multiple children…

RAV4

Having lots of space is essential, especially when you might have to fit in multiple children into the back seat as well as their PE kits, musical instruments, satchels and lunchboxes.

Not having the children crammed in on top of each other is another way you can stop children arguing whilst reducing your own stress levels and making the school run that little bit smoother…

How to de-stress school runs

But there is a different way of seeing this whole experience and de-stressing such situations. Instead of treating the school journey as a chore, why not see it as a chance to spend some quality time with your children away from the distraction of TV’s and computer games?

It can be the perfect opportunity to chat about the day ahead or how your children got on at school when you’re driving them home. You could even get together with your children the night before and choose a (needs to be) democratic playlist of fun songs to listen to together on the journey. The kids will actually want to get in the car then and it should make getting them ready and out the door a lot easier.

The benefit of being early…

Once you make it to the school gates, the next challenge is finding a parking slot.

One tip is to set off and arrive before the mad rush follows in. Setting off with barely enough time for the run means you’re likely to rush, and with children darting out from behind the cars when you get there (who were lucky enough to have already parked up) this can be dangerous.

Rushing around does no one any favours, so we suggest you set off early for a more ‘chilled’ journey and allow yourself to feel smug when you pull up into the prime parking position.

Whereas, if you’re someone that always arrives late, no matter how hard you try to get there on time, consider getting a car with a rear view camera to help you reverse into tricky spaces that other parents daren’t tackle.

So remember, the school run CAN be enjoyable if you have the right car, the right attitude and a well thought through routine.

Hopefully next term it should be a lot smoother and stress free!

Happy New Year Mums!
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guestblog

This is a Guest blog from Toyota.

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Merry Xmas Motorists From Dartford

toll booths_468x286They’ve done their job and now they’re being removed to speed up our journeys.

But even so, we’ll be paying 25% more to use the Dartford Crossing from now on…

Do we have a choice?

Yes we do, as it happens, but not a lot of us know this yet…

What’s happened at Dartford?

Motorists can now use the Dartford Crossing (Tunnel or Bridge) without stopping at a toll booth but our bill for doing so has just risen by 25%. And this assumes that everybody knows how this works, so please factor in a good few fines too as ignorance will be no excuse… although you can pay afterwards providing you pay before midnight the same day.

This is a nice little earner for HM Government especially after Crossing rates rose by 33% in 2012.

How much will it cost?

To be precise, the fees for travelling in either direction have increased from £2 to £2.50 per car per crossing.

How do I pay?

This is where you need to pay attention.

It’s always best to pay in advance but if you forget, as we all will for starters, you MUST pay by midnight on the day you travelled, otherwise numberplate recognition will churn out a £35 Penalty Charge Notice (assuming early settlement) in the post.

You have a choice of payment methods…

1/ online at https://www.gov.uk/dart-charge; this is where to set up an account online – well worth it for business travellers).

2/ by phoning 0300 3000 120; (this is where to set up an account over the phone – well worth it for business travellers).

3/ at a retail outlet with a Payzone terminal; check at payzone.co.uk.

4/ by post in advance at: Dart Charge Customer Services, PO Box 842, Leeds LS1 9QF.

How to save money

Those in the know can save money in one of the following ways…

+ Set up a Dart Charge pre-pay account (find out via the online or phone channels above) when the cost of using the Dartford Crossing can fall to £1.67.

+ Travel between 10pm and 6am (when it’s free).

+ Use a moped, motorcycle, motor tricycle or quad bike (they’re all free).

+ You may not have to pay the charge if you don’t pay vehicle tax because you’re disabled (always check) but if you hold a Blue Badge you WILL need to pay this.

+ Live locally (requiring proof of residency, not for businesses, for one car only).

NB: You’ll need the registration number of the vehicles you want to register, a credit or debit card to make an initial £10 payment, and your bank account details if you want the account to automatically top up. You will get all monies refunded when you cancel this account.

NNB: Remember to cancel any account if you sell your car!

NNNB: Please pass this information on to anyone you know that is unlikely to know about this and what best to do.

FOXY Steph

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