Category Archives: car dealerships

Women want UK car dealerships to be female friendly places.

Norwich’s female friendly garage and car dealer choice

Grant Long, NMG’s MD – photo ack: AM
The Norfolk Motor Group (NMG) is a family run and FOXY Lady Approved garage and car dealership group in Norwich.

This means it is both a Female Friendly Approved business and employer in Norwich.

To join our approved network requires automotive businesses to demonstrate a minimum package of credentials which NMG has exceeded, for the following reasons.

Ladies Evenings

We first met NMG in the run up to their Ladies Evening in mid-February when more than 120 local women drivers attended this highly social evening covering important motoring-related issues such as driving attitudes & behaviour, DIY car maintenance checks and an entertaining session providing memorable advice and demonstrating self defence techniques.

These events are always fun first.

But they also inform and educate women about their critical personal safety, driving safety and vehicle safety. Everyone comes away with at least one important and timely message, and of course this reflects positively on the perceived ethics of the organiser because only businesses that truly want to give something back to their local community are prepared to invest the time and resource towards a free activity which isn’t actively selling cars.

New Car Sales, Used Car Sales and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Having said that, NMG’s main business is obviously selling and repairing cars.

They hold Kia and Suzuki franchises so if you drive these makes of cars, or would like to, in or near Norwich, this is where to come to buy them, trade them in or to have them serviced and repaired.

NMG also sell other makes and models of approved used family cars as well as Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) so it’s a business that covers the majority of transport needs.

And which women know they can trust.

Signs Of Measurable Quality

We look for all signs of measurable quality before accepting garages or car dealers on to our network. This is because used car sales and car servicing are unregulated areas in the motor industry and too few staff are licensed to do these jobs.

One of the best things about choosing a franchised dealership rather than an independent is the reassurance that they have been approved by the manufacturer they represent.

Another standard FOXY looks for is EITHER that the business (used car dealers and independent garages too) operates to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Approved Code of Practice scheme OR is listed on the IMI Professional Register.

In this case many members of NMG staff are Master Technicians, others are trained in the latest electric and hybrid technologies and the business is a member of the CTSI’s New Car Code, Car Sales Code and Service and Repair Code operated by The Motor Ombudsman.

From a customer service point of view, NMG is open 5 and half days a week for car servicing, MOT, repairs and parts. There’s a courtesy bus, a fleet of courtesy cars and a local collection and delivery vehicle service.

Sales Departments are open 7 days a week, including most Bank Holidays, and only close on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Easter Sunday.

They also support many local groups, schools, clubs & charities.

Female Feedback

The final yet critical ingredient is for FOXY to monitor female feedback in addition to NMG’s existing and very high customer satisfaction scores. By using our certificates in their business they are actively courting ALL feedback and giving females a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club as a thank you for their time. The point of this is that whilst we all expect feedback to be positive, if it wasn’t, NMG still wants to know, so they can put it right.

And perhaps that’s the main reason why this business passes our FOXY test with flying colours.

1/ Because their motto is ‘Nobody Tries Harder Than NMG…Nobody‘!
2/ Because they evidently want to do a better job for women drivers, by joining this scheme.
3/ Because they are dedicated to doing this from the top of NMG to the showroom floor – we’re dealing with NMG’s Managing Director who definitely sees this as a long term commitment.

All this is good news for women drivers in and around Norwich. If that’s you, then I invite you to visit their branches in Norwich and put your name down for a future Ladies Evening at 79 Mile Cross Lane.

They may even offer you a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club for doing this.



For More Information

NMG’s HQ is 79 Mile Cross Lane in Norwich, NR6 6TX
Please read NMG’s business story.
Kia and family car sales tel: 01603 775100
Suzuki new and used cars tel:01603 418700
NMG family car, WAV and SUV centre tel: 01603 401044

Great customer service translates into business success

Business of the Year, Wiltshire Business Awards
Business of the Year, Wiltshire Business Awards
Pebley Beach is an award-winning and FOXY Lady Approved car dealership in Swindon.

It is also a Suzuki dealership where Club members in the Swindon area can claim exclusive model discounts.

So we wanted to know more about the Pebley Beach award winning business model and asked their Managing Director, Dom Threlfall, to tell us what they are doing that clearly many others aren’t.

This sentiment is neatly summed up in Dom’s quote.

“I believe great customer service is the key to business success – whatever business you’re in”

Top Ten Customer Service Takeaways

Sarcasm gets a yellow and sometimes red card at Pebley Beach
Sarcasm gets a yellow and sometimes red card at Pebley Beach

And so do we Dom, hence FOXY’s TOP TEN small and simple but spot on customer service favourites that Pebley Beach put into action and explain why they are on our FOXY Lady Approved list ahead of others…

1/ Reserved parking bays near the main entrance for customers with an appointment

2/ Expecting staff to walk customers back to their car

3/ Using a piece of tape to remind our technicians where the car seat was positioned.

“We’ve had married couples asking us to keep the tape in place, so that they know how far to put the seat back or forward for their partners!”

4/ Welcoming MoT and car servicing reminders.

5/ Simple online booking systems to free up staff to deliver personal customer service.

6/ The ability to watch technicians work on your car via a smartphone (a Hyundai service which Dom hopes will be rolled out nationally).

7/ A strategy to identify and recruit rising stars as apprentices, training them with a view to the future. Pebley Beach has won Awards for this approach as have many of their long standing staff as a result of this.

8/ Recognition that Pebley Beach is a community business requiring ethical behaviour at all times, manifesting this in upright and transparent customer dealings. The red and yellow football card photo above is a good example of this – it’s sarcasm that gets yellow and red cards at Pebley Beach…

9/ Managing an Aftersales (aka garage services) Charter so customers know what they can expect from Pebley Beach.

10/ Finally customers are encouraged to leave a voice mail message for Dom if he’s not in the business at the time. This is an excellent way to head off customer concerns that might otherwise escalate.

Other customer service initiatives

In recognition of his ability to convert good ideas into measurable actions Suzuki has sponsored Dom to attend the NADA Expo, the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association where US dealers come together to compare the latest services and developments. And it’s said that whatever is hitting the spot in the US it will soon do so in the UK.

Certainly that is true about the female friendly car dealership business model that launched at the same time as FOXY in the UK. And where the number of women drivers exceeded the number of male ones ahead of this happening in the UK.

“No-one does customer service like the Americans,” said Dom “so I was looking for great ideas that I can adopt in the UK.

“But best practice doesn’t just come from within the industry. Every time I’m at a restaurant, book into a hotel, or even order a pizza I’ll replicate anything that’s given me a great customer experience.”

Dom is also in demand as a business speaker and shared a platform at the Customer Service Summit in April 2016 with Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service; Linda Moir, former director of In Flight Services, Virgin Atlantic; Catherine Hutt, principal consultant (automotive) at Frost & Sullivan; and Captain Gary Barrow of King’s Royal Hussars, giving delegates an unusual insight into how the Army tackles this topic.

We’ll be returning to Pebley Beach later in the year to see what new NADA initiatives Dom might adopt and to measure the success of our FOXY Lady Approved services in terms of increased numbers of female customers. They are usually wary women who spot that Pebley Beach is the first dealership in Swindon to meet our standards ie our female car buying choice.

And as you can see from Dom’s approach, he is leading the car dealer field in Wiltshire by recognising that it isn’t just women who expect more from garages and car showrooms – men are equally delighted when the quality customer service bar is raised.

The challenge for other car dealerships is clear – they need to think as creatively about their own customer services, not just follow Pebley Beach’s examples.

“The greater the competition, the higher the customer service standard gets.”

says I, welcoming this challenge as ever.



See Dom at the Swindon Business Show demonstrating Pebley Beach systems efficiencies as a means of increasing the time available for staff to maintain the (often missing elsewhere) personal touch.

Here’s the Pebley Beach website.

Here are the exclusive Suzuki car deals for Club members.

And if you’d like to join the Club to enjoy services like preferential car insurance rates for women and such like, here’s how you can.

Are women victims in car showrooms?

different_spinMaybe the automotive industry will read and react to the biggest survey so far into women’s perceptions of the car buying experience. But they haven’t got the message yet, hence this blog to help nudge this message further home.

Based on Mumsnet and Reevoo female customer data, this survey (by Good Rebels acting as tells us what previous surveys have told us for ages – that women are critical customers for the automotive industry yet few manufacturers, dealer groups, garages or accident repairers are doing things well enough for us.

According to Good Rebels we are disenfranchised in this area. Yes, perhaps, but it’s an optional state of mind and if we want to do something about this we need to stand up for ourselves and be counted.

Which is what the not for profit FOXY Lady Drivers Club is all about of course, sharing feedback and handing out Red Cards as a last resort. I hate the very thought of women being victims here – or needing men to sort motoring matters out for us (which no woman does of course…).

Good Rebels research findings re women drivers

This research found..

+ 90 per cent of the women questioned would not visit a car dealership without a man in tow.
+ 56 per cent felt patronised by car advertising
+ 34 per cent felt that no car brand understands women

Looking for some good news, it seems that a few brands are deemed more female friendly than others but, in my experience, this doesn’t always carry itself into the dealership experience. Especially used car showrooms.

Hence the Good Rebels’ conclusions.

1/ It is time for the industry to start innovating.

2/ It is time for a consumer experience revolution in automotive.

Bring it on I say.

I’d then add

3/ It’s time to banish unfair haggling re car prices.

4/ It’s time for the industry to come together at the top to heal the bad image PR (like this and the perpetual proliferation of the male supremacy in all motoring and motortrade journalism) that makes women feel totally alienated from this shopping arena.

More women needed in the motor industry

But with an eye-watering statement at the IMI website over the weekend that only 2% of the motor industry workforce is female (even I was taken aback by this – can this possibly be true?) how can the motor industry in general be seen to represent its current and future VIP customers. And does it or the automotive press understand how they are making this worse by actively shoring up this boys car club?

When will the automotive industry start to heal itself here from the masculine Boardroom floors down?

I am writing this blog in my capacity as a consultant in this specialist area.

Steph Savill

PS: I remain, as ever, resolutely enthusiastic about the future of the motor industry from a female perspective (it’s not as hard as it seems to remedy this) because benchmarking the genuinely female friendly businesses will surely lift the complacent laggards off the entry level floor. Or they’ll get left too far behind. And, trust me, there are many truly female friendly businesses out there, it’s just that they are not marketing themselves as the female choice.

PPS: If you’ve got this far, automotive businesses can buy this research. Let’s hope they do. And women can join FOXY Lady Drivers Club and help us get them (and more women) a better motoring deal in future.

Double award winning female friendly Holders of Congresbury, SEAT dealership

holders_winners“Two is always better than one…” explained lucky Rex Jeffrey, Holders of Congresbury’s Managing Director, after hearing that the FOXY Lady Approved business had TWO not just ONE National Winners on the team.

Back in February SEAT UK announced a list of 25 finalists as they set out to identify the ‘Best of the Best’ in their National Dealer Network of 115 SEAT Dealerships across Great Britain.

Holders Service Manager Anthony Harris and Service Advisor Diane Gibbens made the grade as finalists and were then invited by SEAT to attend a day of tough tasks at the VW Group National Learning Centre in Milton Keynes.

Despite strong competition from around the country Anthony and Diane held their nerve and went on to demonstrate to the judges the integral principles of customer service that form the very DNA of Holders of Congresbury.

Anthony and Diane Get Gold

Both took Gold in their respective categories and at a Gala Dinner celebration they were presented with commemorative plaques detailing their achievements.

Diane and Anthony will now go on to represent the United Kingdom in the International Finals held in Barcelona, the home of SEAT Cars and the factory where most of them are made. They will be pitched against the very best in the world for Customer Service within the Volkswagen Group franchise, and as the best in the UK, they will be sure to give their all…

Anthony said “Having participated and won in this competition before, I thought I knew what to expect but this year’s standards were higher and the challenges tougher then ever!”

One of FOXY’s Female Business Ambassadors for Holders, Diane added, “I had been warned by my twin sister Jenny who had made the final back in 2013 what to expect! I am thrilled to have won this prestigious award and am confident this is down to my thorough preparation and because Customer Service at Holders is a very genuine daily focus for me.”

Mr Jeffrey commented “We are very proud of our winners, they are vital links within a strong chain of people who work exceedingly hard to maintain and improve Holders’ commitment to customer care. Recognition at this level from a company the size of the VW Group certainly puts Holders of Congresbury, and our worthy award winning team members, on the international map for all the right reasons!”

Good luck for Barcelona Anthony and Diane – we’d love to see you both pull off the global SEAT Awards in your respective categories.


A female friendly dealership day out in Croydon

I always say I can sense a female friendly dealership the moment I walk in. Yes of course they all should be, but believe me, a lot aren’t. By female friendly I mean a business that’s evidently well organised and clean with staff who’re genuinely interested in me and where there’s something on offer with women in mind.

One such dealership is Motor Village, a Fiat owned dealership in Croydon that also sells Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Chrysler models.

I called in there recently during a Family Day called ‘Safe and Secure’ and met their friendly reception, sales and service staff.

Female friendly dealership staff

Miriam_fiatStaff don’t need to be female to be female friendly of course but finding women on the car sales floor is a particular bonus for me.

One such lady is Miriam Spalla who perfectly represents the Italian brand in my mind when it comes to style and flair.

Not only is she evidently Italian but she also lives and breathes engines as a result of her father’s passion for cars. She explained to me that she has a very brief window opportunity to impress male car buyers with her technical knowledge; before meeting Miriam, many think a man is more likely to know the performance facts they are interested in.

She will do well.

img_0006During the course of the day The AA put on car maintenance displays, there was plenty on offer to entertain the children, the coffee was particularly good and for those of us with a love for older cars, there were some fabulous and highly stylish Fiat classics on show.

There were holiday-like candyfloss and popcorn stalls and the business was clearly doing well in terms of car servicing bookings on the day as well as more than just a passing interest in new car models on the showroom floor.

All in all, this was called a ‘family day’ but I have no doubt that the actual target audience was really women.

img_0003Motor Village is a FOXY Lady Approved garage and their female customers are entitled to claim a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club via their reception team.

Do call in and collect yours – you’ll be made to feel as welcome as I was I’m sure.