I am often asked if our network is different from others that sound impressive but that any Tom, Dick or Harry garage can join. I can honestly answer ‘yes we’re different’.
We have to be different because a bad garage, or one that pretends to be good but is, at best, mediocre, can compromise our motoring safety. Not just for women but also for men I hasten to add which is why we have many male fans and followers because they realise that our standards are higher than most others….
So, when you choose a FOXY Lady Approved female friendly garage you can be sure that it’s been vetted and endorsed by regular female feedback even if we approve a range of garages. As I see it, there’s no point in sending an out of warranty car and its owner into a franchised dealership and paying over the odds if there’s an approved good independent garage alternative. Unless the dealer is competing with them of course…
Our network is run by FOXY Lady Drivers Club’s sister organisation, FOXY Choice. Approved garages pay us an annual subscription to be identified, promoted and monitored as a female friendly garage or car dealer. I am comfortable with this relationship because it’s their money that funds our not for profit club and if the motor industry was as good as it should be, there’d be no need for the Club or for the good guys to have to be seen to out-perform the cowboys.
But there is a need, because, other than MOT’s, this isn’t a licensed industry. One where anyone can tinker with our cars because service and repair mechanics don’t have to be licensed or trained re the latest technology. An industry where she who knows when, where and how much to haggle will usually pay less for a new car than a more trusting neighbour who might venure into a showroom on her innocent own. Where used cars glint as does the salesman’s eye when he sees a gullible prospect to sell a used car to that he knows is about to blow a metaphorical gasket, just outside a mythical warranty he’s sold you. And where you can buy part worn (aka part safe) tyres or buy a car with part worn tyres without your knowledge. Or get your car repaired using cheap and not authentically original car parts. And so on. You get my drift – scratch any surface in this industry and you’ll find standards that aren’t good enough and that let the genuinely good garages and dealers down.
Clearly Rome wasn’t built in a day but FOXY has always started with minimum quality standards. We like to see businesses (garages and dealers) that have invested in training staff, listed on the IMI Professional Register. We also like to see manufacturer approved businesses because, if things go wrong, you can at least escalate problems through the dealer to the manufacturer…
A second standard is the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) schemes run by Motor Codes (backed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders ie SMMT hence the emphasis of franchised dealerships), another me-too scheme run by Trust My Garage (backed by the Retail Motor Industry Federation ie RMIF hence the emphasis on independents more than franchised dealers) or the identical code-scheme operated by the Bosch Car Service network – mainly independents at the high end of the quality spectrum. Amazingly none of these Code of Practice schemes require staff to be licensed but Motor Codes is an Alternative Dispute Resolution services so at least you have somewhere to go if any of their members (and non members) behave badly.
We also expect businesses to sign the FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need’ which is sadly the image that too many women have in their heads. A huge number of women dread the garage experience meaning they don’t go as often as they should for this reason and, in too many cases, delegate the actual MOT, car servicing and often new car test drive to their (male) partner.
Shame on this industry for making us feel intimidated and without a means to fight back. We who are about to outnumber male drivers and who want more for our money. Those who are members of FOXY, can fight back of course, as we will always support them, assuming they’re in the right of course.
My personal bete noir is cleanliness and toilets in garages. These are mainly areas run by men so perhaps cleanliness isn’t as important to them as it would be to us. So where loos are pristine and impressive I heave a huge sigh of relief and want to shout this from the rooftops when inspecting washrooms as customer facilities.
Finally, even garages and dealers with all the quality ratings can be rude. In fact I have encountered some of the rudest men and women in customer facing business roles ever when phoning garages and/or dealers who are clearly oblivious to the way potential customers are treated.
So that’s about it really. A commitment to the FOXY Promise, minimum quality standards, any indication of investment in being better than others in the industry, value for money (I don’t mean cheap here), cleanliness and a warm welcome is what we look for before we award FOXY Lady Approved status. Then minimum supplies of female feedback to make sure they’re keeping their side of the bargain.
PROVISO – Not all FOXY Lady Approved garages tick all these boxes because this has to include a FOXY (as in female) Choice and clearly the more you expect (vehicle collection/courtesy car/italian coffee, WiFi etc) the more the business overheads are but at least you’ll know the garages are doing a good job for women. And that if they get this wrong, they have us to answer to, as per our Terms and Conditions.
My final advice is, don’t buy garage services on price alone. Make sure you know if they are good enough to do the job. Just like a cheap used car, there’ll be a reason for this and it won’t be because the business wants to do you a personal favour.
Trust me – this is the motor industry and it just isn’t good enough yet.
Here’s where to find our FOXY Lady Approved female friendly garages and dealers…
Finally for just £24 you can join FOXY Lady Drivers Club and get a lifetime subscription in 2016 opening the door to cheap car insurance, car deals and VIP garage services we’ve vetted so women (and men in many cases) can trust too.
If you’re a member please tell your friends and help spread the word that women drivers have a female choice.