When asked why he never warned any of his many wives what they were letting themselves in for, the late, heavy-drinking, promiscuous and totally unreliable Jeffrey Bernard would only ever reply: ‘You can see a train when it’s coming, can’t you?’
I could say the same about the motor industry businesses who failed to spot that the number of women holding driving licenses has risen from 9.2m in 1995 to 16.3m in 2010.
That’s a HUGE extra 7 million females on our roads in just 15 years; they didn’t just arrive overnight, they aren’t men and they expect to be treated like women. Why is this still such an apparent surprise to so many men in the motor industry today?
‘Didn’t you see the female train coming?’
Fortunately the astute motoring businesses noticed a growing female presence ahead of others and started to adjust their services when it comes to our buying cars, garage and accident services. Whilst women realise they now have a female friendly business choice.
And because women tend to organise most of the family shopping it makes sense that they’ll be booking their husband, partner and children’s cars too, not just their own, at servicing time.
Yes it’s good that many garages are picking up on this gender trend but I’m not sure they all realise what this means for their business. One supposedly female friendly garage states at his website ‘Any emails without phone numbers will be deleted.’ That isn’t at all female friendly, knowing that women don’t give out phone numbers willy nilly, for good reason.
If a motorist asks for a quote by email that’s how she wants to be replied to. Only after reading a choice of replies will she decide who she’s going to give work to or her phone number. Who can blame her? Website contact forms should respect her request for privacy.
Another new and murky area, when it comes to the supposed transparency of menu prices, is one of hidden extras; for the likes of courtesy cars or a local car collection. I’m not saying it isn’t reasonable to charge here but this isn’t always made clear on menu tariffs or when she’s initially comparing garage servicing choices.
Female friendly or not?
In many ways it’s flattering that garages are listing themselves as female friendly (even if they aren’t by FOXY standards) when ten years ago most garages told us they treated men and women alike as a matter of company policy. They saw this as equality, explaining that their service levels were good for all, failing to address the fact that too many women dreaded their garage or car showroom experiences. In so doing they missed the opportunity to be seen as genuinely better than the rest in female minds by upping their service standards to meet the FOXY Code.
Thankfully there were enough clued up garages and genuinely female friendly car dealerships to get it right straightaway. Which is why our independent FOXY Lady Approved badge can now give women the peace of mind they need to be able to trust a garage, accident repairer or used car dealer before handing over their money. And as the number of demanding women drivers continues to rise, so will the need for that reassurance.
As part of our FOXY Lady Approved scheme we look for signs of quality, value for money and a commitment to the FOXY Promise ‘to never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need.’ We also carry out compliance checks re cleanliness, customer welcome and female feedback to monitor that subscribing businesses are meeting our standards. Only then do we promote them to women who know to tell us afterwards if they ever have any cause for concern.
NB: Not all that apply are eligible to join.