I wish I wasn’t surprised to read that “Car dashboard warning lights are beyond the grasp of 98% of British drivers” but I’m not.
It’s another reminder of the realities of life.
Car manuals that aren’t easy to navigate, read or understand. And instead of our asking professionals for advice here, many of us don’t do this, for fear of being sold things we don’t need.
Presumably they either Google for the warning light, simply drive on regardless, or find out what this means at MOT/car service time or when their car lets them down?
Heaven forbid it’s a safety-related warning light.
The perception of women drivers
Perceptions are very powerful influencers of behaviour. When it comes to the motor industry few women (and probably men too) perceive garages or car showrooms to be trustworthy or welcoming places to visit.
For example, last month I spoke at a WI event in Sussex about motoring matters in general, and tyre safety in particular.
Once again I heard that all too familiar intake of breath when I tell females that the UK motor industry isn’t regulated when it comes to car servicing, mechanical repairs and used car sales. Few realise or want to consider that anyone could be fixing their brakes, selling them tyres they don’t need or shiny cars that aren’t safe or reliable. Yet most women ‘perceive’ this to be true from the tales they share about bad garage, car and tyre sales experiences either they or their friends have had…
As I see it there is a clear parallel between the absence of minimum quality standards (as in industry regulation or compulsory licensing of all staff) and the subsequent level of complaints about shoddy garage services and used cars, leading to an unacceptable number of unsafe cars on our roads today.
So I then talk to women about ways to find out who the measurably better guys (and a very few gals) are and how to find them locally…
Motor industry regulation
“9 out of 10 motorists prefer to deal with an accredited professional” IMI-conducted/independent survey 2014
Thankfully MOT’s are regulated by the DVSA so we can be as sure as we reasonably can be that they are conducted to strict rules and regulations.
Of course when you visit franchised dealerships, you know that any garage service work has been carried out to car manufacturer standards. That’s not entirely true in all cases of course because many are expected to repair non franchised makes but aren’t trained here. That’s what the ATA (Automotive Training Accreditation) scheme is all about…
Sadly none of this training means that mistakes aren’t made, but if you aren’t happy at least you have a clear chain of complaint, taking you through the business and then involving the manufacturer during the new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process operated by Motor Codes.
But if you want to find an accredited professional in an independent garage, bodyshop, car showroom or fast fit repair centre in your area, you need to know where to look, as things stand. And that means looking for more than just membership of unfamiliar trade association names (unfamiliar for motorists that is) or testimonials about garages having friendly staff. Important yes, I think it’s more important to check that the workmanship is being done professionally as well.
So, this is how you can check who’s licensed as more professional than the rest. Oh that there were more individuals and businesses on the list.
Best practice motor industry schemes
FOXY is the only business to look for measurable signs of quality workmanship before awarding our FOXY Lady Approved status. Our minimum measurable quality standards include Chartered Trading Standards Code of Practice schemes (there are three competing service & repair schemes, one new car code and a warranty products scheme), Publicly Available Standards (PAS) for accident repairs alongside ISO and leading tyre auditing schemes.
But the problem with all industry self-regulation schemes like the CTSI ones is that the cowboys don’t have to join them, and clearly don’t. And the other criticism I have of them is that they don’t require staff to be licensed, which is a huge disappointment.
So the one standard that sits above them all, as I see it, is the industry’s Professional Register, operated by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). And which could so easily become the minimum industry standard aka regulation by any other name.
And in case you haven’t heard of it before, the IMI is THE professional association for all individuals working within it, whether in technical-related, management, customer facing, car sales and consultancy roles. The IMI Professional Register is therefore the only one where listed professionals have committed to ethical standards and undergo a process of accreditation akin to licensing.
Sadly not all IMI members are on the Register. Those that choose to, apply to go through a vetting process, commit to topping up their skills and knowledge through the collection of customary CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points and their registration is reviewed every three years.
But because this process isn’t compulsory, many individuals choose not to bother. But they would have to if their license to earn depended on it…
I think this is the direction this industry needs to be heading in. Especially now we’re driving electric cars and whatever the future brings…
How to search the IMI Professional Register
The IMI Professional Register allows motorists to search for the best local specialist, based on their car sales, garage services or accident repair needs at the time.
Rather than lumping all car services into the category of ‘garage’ it makes good sense to check who, nearest to our postcode, has gone that extra mile to be one of the very best choices in the following technical and mechanical categories.
1/ Accident/bodywork repairs
2/ Air conditioning
4/ Car servicing
6/ Digital/in car technology
7/ Electric cars
9/ Mechanical repairs
12/ Windscreen/glass work
There is also a section in the Register showing individuals that are licensed in Car Sales (we need more in this category please…) and there are specialists for Breakdown, HGV, Motorcycles & Electric vehicle services.
NB: Where you come across a Master Technician, he/she is one of the very best in their discipline.
Motor Industry Professional Pride
I am a Fellow of the IMI (FIMI) and proud to be on the IMI Register to demonstrate my superior experience and qualifications within the trade. I am listed as a motor industry marketing consultant (not a mechanic) by the way. This puts me on a par with others at the top of the marketing profession and I an required to top up my skills with CPD points to have this status renewed after three years. As I have to do to retain my Chartered Marketer status too.
So I cannot understand why other seemingly career-oriented individuals do not seem to share this pride or want to be seen at the pinnacle of their career? Maybe this is a question of cost and their time? Or could it be the knowledge that they might not look as good as others on paper? Well, isn’t that the point of the Register and future training? To show a willingness to improve standards and our individual professional competence?
This is how to search the IMI Professional Register
a/ Decide which job you need an expert for.
b/ Enter your postcode.
c/ Compare your choices.
The IMI blog includes automotive tips to help you care for your vehicle and to give you confidence when visiting garages.
For details of all signs of measurable quality in UK garages.
Join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to be sure of FOXY Lady Approved businesses and standards in future!