Who’s your ideal driving companion?

seat_miiIn a poll conducted to celebrate the launch of the new special edition SEAT Mii by MANGO it seems that the women of the UK have very clear ideas about who they would like to have travelling alongside them.

Prince Harry is the clear favourite, with a quarter of those questioned wanting the handsome Royal next to them as they drive around the city.

Some things don’t change though, as David Beckham shows his undying appeal, coming a close second with 21%.

It seems no one wants to take the chance of having their driving judged, with Simon Cowell getting a mere 8%. The big shock is so-called ‘dream boy’ Harry Styles, who received a measly 5%, which goes to show that looks don’t always count.

Embattled PM David Cameron can find no comfort in the fact that he gained only 3% of the vote, though some might say ‘as expected’.

Jennifer Lawrence leads the way with 18% of those asked choosing the Hunger Games star as their ultimate female car companion. And Prince Harry’s sister-in-law Kate Middleton (17%) beat Beyoncé (10%) among those polled. Maybe UK women are hoping Kate will spill the beans on her Royal brother-in-law?

When questioned about the age-old driving battle of the sexes, I’m delighted to see that women are more confident than they have ever been about their motoring abilities, with 70% considering themselves to be far more skilled drivers than the men in their lives. Hear hear.

Having said that, just over half said that men have a better sense of direction than them. They were just being benevolent we suspect as who uses a sense of direction when we’ve a Sat Nav to hand?!
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And in case it’s not just me that’s more interested in the car than this gender ‘fun’, the SEAT Mii by MANGO is a city car available in either nude or black, with contrasting interior including Alcantara upholstery (three or five door options available). You get atom grey door mirrors, stylish 15″ alloy wheels, chrome door strips and a spacious boot, priced from £10,995 on the road.

Please visit www.seat.co.uk for more information.

FOXY Steph

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More Optimism Please David

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Dear David (Cameron)

“Please could you keep your maudlin thoughts to yourself about the UK economy? Either we’re affected by a struggling EU or we aren’t. According to George we aren’t, so let’s all sing from the same hymn sheet and be upbeat about things. Regardless of any future non-association with the EU. And all the trading barriers this may then entail…

“I understand that we are being softened up for a tough Election ahead and of course Rochester is listening. After all this is a great opportunity to reassure us all that the UK economy is in safer hands with the Tories than it would be with an alternative UKIP, Labour or SNP ‘perm any combination’ Government next year.

“I’ll go with that logic….

“But optimism matters a lot to me, running a small business, because when we launched our female friendly garage network in 2008 it nearly had a very short business life… I had picked the 8th of August as our ‘opening date’ because this was supposed to be a truly auspicious Chinese date. Apart from in 2008. Within days or a month at the most we were all feeling the chilling effect (yes even in August) of the recession that was to clobber the UK garage industry for some 5 years.

“As ever, those that know about adversity also know that it usually comes with opportunities for the brave. So some garages were the First Movers and have done well out of us since. The Ostriches buried their head in the sand as ever and the Takers took whatever we gave for free… for as long as we were daft enough to offer it.

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“Two months ago we launched our new FOXY Lady Approved female friendly car dealer network (for used and new car sales) and this is where we are concentrating our recruitment efforts now.

“So we don’t need or agree with your economic pessimism David because we know that women buy half the new cars sold in the UK and influence as many as 80%. That’s HUGE business for the UK.

“This makes us THE gender spenders, who are to be encouraged surely, not deterred from car shopping to shore up such a vital industry.

“And because many distrust car dealers, we exist to give women the reassurance they need and so they know they have a female choice.

“So no more negativity please David. And be sure to tell Samantha she has a female friendly car shopping choice in future.”

All the very best (although it’s not looking good) for Rochester on Thursday…

FOXY Steph

To see which garages, accident repairers and car dealers are part of our female friendly network now, just enter your postcode in the relevant SEARCH box at the FOXY Choice website.

To recommend (or not) a genuinely female friendly garage, accident repairer or car dealer please let us have your female feedback here.

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Fashion-led feminism or the female business case?

f_t_shirt As ill at ease as they looked wearing these T shirts I suspect that Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg probably had a better idea of the meaning of the F word than most.

A TV programme last week, A Fair Deal For Women, showed a classroom of boys and girls being asked two questions in the classroom.

Firstly if they were feminists and secondly if they supported equal rights. Almost all answered no to the first question but yes to the second.

And yet both questions were the same, couched in different terms.

The definition of feminism

My personal definition of feminism is gender equality in terms of education, training, job opportunities, pay and parental rights/responsibilities. This is based on common sense thinking influenced more by the school of life rather than eminent Suffragists or academics.

My sphere of special interest and influence here is the UK motor industry but it doesn’t stop me marvelling at the work that Malala is doing on a global stage. Not does it stop me wondering how a £45 T shirt promoting feminism might allow The Mail to claim sweat shop factory associations that go against the very fabric (pun intended) of such an intentionally informative communications campaign.

Equality confusion

But there are other areas of misunderstanding here. That this is a feminine issue. That there is no place for equality in some work environments. That men and women should be treated alike as customers and employees…

Equal rights as previously stated? 100% yes, to benefit men and women alike. Thank goodness that most of the enlightened influencers in the motor industry are male.

Categorically ‘no’ to those ostriches who think men and women are the same when it comes to shopping or looking for employment…

Inevitably when you mention gender there is a price to be paid, often in terms of abuse using the anonymity of social media. Someone, somewhere will surely feel the need to express their male superiority in some way or (because it isn’t always just men that object here) women expecting other women to be treated the same as men and not needing special treatment.

Clearly neither camp has my experience of being a regular female motorist (by which I mean neither petrol-headed nor mechanically adept) when it comes to shopping across the board in the motor industry. And if it were the case that all garages and car dealers were qualified to do their jobs (mechanics and car sales staff aren’t licensed to do their job but that’s another issue) there would still be huge gaps between those businesses that provide a female friendly environment as in their cleanliness, comfort and time-saving services.

If businesses in the motor industry want to court the best young recruits they’ll know that these include females who are outperforming their male counterparts in most academic subjects at GCSE level. So they need to address their working conditions with women in mind, with a view to competing with more female friendly industries and employers. And those females that make it to the top need to be seen as role models and actively court females in their wake to follow in their footsteps.

My research among female apprentices tells me that you have to be a special type of individual to get on in the motor industry. Just imagine being the first female mechanic in an unwelcoming macho workshop or the first female selling cars in a showroom, or the first ‘token’ female into an overly complacent all male Boardroom.
Much easier running your own business perhaps (as I do!) because you can do things the female way, not be expected to behave (or become) masculine-like simply to conform. Although many women do.

Enlightened men support women

I am delighted to say that a great number of FOXY supporters are male. Not just because they believe in the principle of equality but because they know from experience that a gender balanced workforce makes for better, joined up decisions and a happier working environment. Not only is gender likely to become an area of considerable competitive advantage when it comes to best practice employers but we are starting to see companies address staff benefits that will appeal to Mums more than Dads. They want to encourage the best females to come forward to take their rightful place in tomorrow’s motor industry.

On the other hand our male support may have something to do with the fact that the number of female motorists will soon outnumber males, that we influence c80% of car/aftersales buying decisions and that we are more demanding customers – than most men have been to date.

The Female Business Case

Some readers will continue to see gender matters as fashion-led feminism because they don’t understand the implications for their business. The enlightened CEOs and influencers know better and see this as ‘The Female Business Case’. My experience is that more and more women are making a female choice in masculine industries like the motor one, whether as customers or employees. Those companies that go the extra mile for her business will win her custom and trust. I think that’s worth the effort and wait…

Vive la difference, as ever.

FOXY Steph

If you’d like to comment via Twitter please use the @FOXYtweets or @FOXYSteph addresses.

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Top Gear goes live near you

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The Top Gear Live show is touring the UK in 2015 and coming to Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Belfast and London.

Surely a special gift most male petrolheads will hope to receive from their FOXY Lady this Xmas? Not forgetting female petrolheads of course.

Fronted by motoring boys behaving badly, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, we’re talking breath-taking stunts, some of the world’s most incredible cars and the usual calamitous events.

Pity the 2CVs and caravans that are likely to get wasted we fear…

Not just an action-packed 90-minute arena show this also promises to be a firm fan favourite just in time to become a favourite present for petrol heads at Christmas.

We expect to see fire, tyre smoke, ridiculous stunts and a healthy dose of competitive spirit. But are we right?

“We’ll have supercars, stunts, explosions and The Stig. Come and see BBC’s Top Gear, but without the editing. What could possibly go wrong?” said Clarkson.

James added: “Instead of taking Top Gear all over the world, this year we’re taking it to Newcastle, Liverpool, Belfast, Sheffield and London. That way we’ll remember how lucky we are to live in Britain.”

And even Richard found it hard to contain his enthusiasm even though this had clearly been questioned…

“It’s SO exciting. I suggested to the other two that we travelled around in a lovely old bus or something but they weren’t keen. I think most of their answers ended in ‘off.”

Mind you, the UK clearly wasn’t at the top of their patriotic touring agenda as the Top Gear Live extravaganza has been to Moscow, St Petersburg, Glasgow, Budapest, Zagreb, Turin, Prague, Sydney, Barbados and Durban in the last 12 months.

But now it’s our turn to get our tickets for the 2015 Top Gear Live tour dates.

Liverpool Echo Arena
FRI 13 FEB 15 at 7.30PM
SAT 14 FEB 15 at 3PM & 7.30PM

Newcastle Metro Arena
FRI 20 FEB 15 at 7.30PM
SAT 21 FEB 15 at 3PM & 7.30PM

Belfast Odyssey Arena
FRI 22 MAY 15 at 7.30PM
SAT 23 MAY 15 at 3PM & 7.30PM

Sheffield Motorpoint Arena 
FRI 05 JUN 15 at 7.30PM
SAT 06 JUN 15 at 3PM & 7.30PM

London O2 Arena 
SAT 28 NOV 15 at 3PM & 7.30PM

Full details can be found at www.topgearlive.co.uk.

Top Gear Live tickets cost from £35 (subject to a per-ticket charge plus order processing fee) and can be bought after Friday 14 November from www.livenation.co.uk.

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Wise up with winter coming says Monaco VW

Monaco Entrance landscapeTracing back to its business origins in 1954 Monaco VW is not only the oldest VW garage on the UK network but we think it’s one of London’s most beautiful too.

And a member of FOXY’s female friendly car dealer network to boot!

We all know that with age comes wisdom of course which is why Monaco VW knows to offer its customers a comprehensive Winter Car Care Check at this time of year.

Theirs costs £29.99 and includes a technical inspection of tyres, battery, brakes, lights and fluid levels. If repairs are needed, Monaco technicians are on hand to assist and any looming concerns will be noted for future attention as part of Monaco’s unique vehicle management service.

Recent figures from the Department for Transport showed that treacherous winter conditions caused over 6,000 road incidents last year. With that in mind Monaco VW is also recommending VW-approved snow chains and snow socks to help drivers keep a tighter grip on the road in snowy and icy conditions. For those new to chains and “socks” a full demonstration will be provided by Monaco VW’s friendly team.

“Our Winter Vehicle Check gives drivers the confidence that they’re not going to feel unprepared when the inevitable hard frosts and poor weather affects the capital over the next few months” said Dealer Principal Anthony Barrell.

We’re happy to promote this for Monaco VW as this is a responsible thing to do at this time of year. We’d also like to remind members that many of our FOXY Lady Approved garages offer a similar service, often free but requiring payment for any expensive engine oil top ups that are usually involved.

NB: This year, all their female customers who provide feedback following a recent visit to Monaco VW will be offered a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club worth £23. What’s not to like?

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