For a long time I’ve wanted the Club to be a not for profit organisation and today the job has been done. We are finally putting ‘doing the right thing for women and the motor industry’ ahead of the alternative ‘sell as much as you can for as much as you can make’ strategy.
Which feels good to me. Let me explain…
FOXY Lady Drivers Club started out in 2005 when we charged £35 for a year’s membership including a Welcome Pack by post, a quarterly magazine and a telephone service. But we couldn’t make financial sense of the post and print overhead for the first couple of years so we opted to go completely online in 2007. Sadly we lost some of our supporters at that stage who weren’t and didn’t want to be internet savvy. I regret losing them but it was still the right decision to make, until a business grows to be big enough to attract the advertising it needs to support the magazine and so on.
It has always been a chicken and egg story – getting enough members and in the right area to support the garages and so on…
Having dispensed with the traditional postal and print services we were able to drop the annual subscription to £23; that included an online Membership Pack, bi-monthly email newsletters, offers and specialist services plus a £3 donation to the excellent Cancer Buddies Network charity.
Things changed again on 8 August 2008 (coinciding with the Beijing Olympics – an auspicious date apparently) when the Club’s sister business FOXY Choice opened for business. It’s now the UK’s only female friendly garage network but at the time it was a specialist marketing service for businesses that wanted to be promoted as female friendly or to know how they might do a better job. Qualifying independent garages, dealerships, bodyshops and fastfits all pay a modest annual subscription to get female friendly marketing materials, PR services and a lot of online promotion to women and members of the Club.
The plan was always that the retail motor industry SHOULD end up subsidising the Club because if the industry had been better at doing its job the Club wouldn’t have been needed in the first place; to reassure so many wary and ill at ease women when it comes to buying cars, garage services and insurance products.
With the benefit of hindsight, 2008 was probably the worst time to launch a new business into the motor trade in particular, with the first dip of a big two dipper recession to follow. So it has taken us longer to get to where we wanted to be – that the Club’s subscription would get cheaper so it could help more women…
Once we saw that the UK was in for a long and depressing economic slog, and that women were by and large bearing the brunt of the hardship in terms of job losses and ever rising shopping bills we decided to bite the bullet and make Club membership a lifetime subscription. One joining fee of £23 and women drivers across the UK can have a motoring friend for life – was there ever a better motoring deal I wonder?
Finally today we completed the legalities to make the Club a not for profit company that’s limited by guarantee. Thank you Taylor & Emmet LLP for your patient advice here. This means no shares, no shareholders and no staff salaries with any year end surplus going to the Cancer Buddies Network charity when we get there. The online subscription remains a lifetime one at £23 and our FOXY Choice garage partners even have an allocation of gift subscriptions for free.
If you live near one of them, just pop in and ask them if you can have one.
In this way we hope that more women drivers across the UK will join the Club to enjoy better motoring services in future. We don’t think women should have to take a man with them to pay a fair price for a car in a dealership (hence our car buying service). We are confident that women won’t be patronised in FOXY garages (or they’re in serious trouble) and we’ll do all we can to identify the car insurers that try to milk us because of our gender, not our risk, come the EU Gender Equality ruling and unfair car insurance premium rises set to hit females badly this December.
In short, we’re sticking up for women drivers because someone needs to and promoting best practice in the motor industry wherever we find it. And we’re able to do this thanks to the financial support we receive from FOXY Choice subscribers, website advertisers and a few trade sponsors.
Please help us spread the word about FOXY so we can do a better job for more women.