FOXY Lady blog is critical to getting our message across. In our new Blog Section you’ll find a blog post explaining why we write what we do and how our blog reflects our strategic business plans. It’s all part of our ‘drive’ (pardon the pun) to get what we do to a wider audience as part of an affordable and measurable PR plan.
To raise awareness about the Club, I started the FOXY Lady blog in March 2008, writing for and about women drivers.
It’s not a sexy read and I doubt it’ll make it to the top of a busy female’s ‘must read’ blog list but if women want to know about motoring they stand a chance of finding useful insider information here, with their best interests at heart, when they need it most. Or decide to join the Club for 1:1 support of course.
Writing about motoring for women is certainly a perilous path to tread (some prefer simple and lightweight content whereas others find that approach patronising…) but I do this to amplify the Club’s key messages and for a whole raft of good business reasons.
I’m fed up with the negativity and pessimism we’re forever reading, whether it’s in the media or from self-appointed thought leaders.
With so much uncertainty about Brexit I’d rather see more of us talking up the UK economy and for each of us in business to do what we can to identify good news and steady the ship.
Instead of majoring on a scenario of doom and gloom despite knowing the exit die is cast.
Personally I relish a good challenge and I think we have the talent to respond well to this in future. I’m confident that if we all pull together (which we aren’t doing at present) and see pluses rather than minuses, we can make things better, sooner.
I want us to imagine and create a better future that puts the UK first. It can be done assuming a positive mindset. Looking on the bright side for starters, I was relieved to know we won’t be part of the EU when it ramps up its plans for more and more financial and taxation integration in future…
As I see it, those that are so negative about Brexit are acting like ostriches. They have their heads in the sand, are fans of the status quo (despite this not being nearly good enough) and blind to bright lights on the horizon.
Worst of all, many clearly feel superior to the majority of UK voters that opted for Brexit and change.
How can they (the ostriches) be wrong, they ask themselves, expecting to get their way like spoilt children crying in a sweetshop?
They seem frightened to take a step into the unknown, have depressingly little confidence in our country’s ability to succeed on our own, and don’t appear to appreciate that all our family futures depend on us all doing something positive towards the future, not wasting the UK’s collective time, resource and talent through moaning and a daily diet of scepticism.
We are where we are…
If those who don’t like where we are, instead of moaning about it, were to commit to making sure that the UK laws we inherit from now on are correctly interpreted and more robust, wouldn’t that be a more positive agenda to pursue? To lobby local MPs to make things better than they are, regardless of who’s at Number 10 Downing Street. Left, green, centre ground or right wing regardless, we all need to do the best we can for our country remembering we ARE leaving the EU in March 2019 and we’re still carrying a substantial national debt that we MUST pay back, not carry forward to our children.
There are no Brexit ‘experts’ just those masquerading as such. We are EU Exit Pioneers, going where no man (or woman) has gone before – we need to pull together, not apart and forge a new script that works. We’re also making it easier for others to follow us later of course – which is another reason the EU fear, castigate and plan to penalise us in equal measure. How dare we?…
The Good News About Brexit
There is good news for the EU, of course, in that we’ll remain close. Europe is our neighbour and we’ll happily choose to spend our holidays there as before. We’ll also contribute towards whatever agenda is in our shared best interests, maximising our comparative talents. And pay our fair share of any exit bill (whatever that might be) and for future alliances.
We’d like to carry on doing business of course but we don’t want to pay for EU bureaucracy any more. And we want to be free to trade with the rest of the world. Therein lies the challenge and opportunity!
Trading within the EU might be easy as is and future tariffs are undoubtedly a shared concern but they work both ways and there are clear deals yet to be done.
In addition there are huge new markets for us to trade with, just over the EU horizon. So let’s get to know these markets better NOW so we are prepared for when the EU’s comfort blanket is removed…
Falling off any cliff isn’t an attractive option but it has to remain on David Davis’ negotiating table until we know whether we can seriously afford to trade within the EU or we need to shop elsewhere. For now, we have EU handcuffs stopping us from doing trade deals elsewhere. But they can’t stop us from doing this for much longer.
If we can’t afford EU food or EU cars (as if France and Germany will let that happen?) we’ll need the time to source and buy these products elsewhere, address job implications and ramp up our own production of course. So let’s be sure we have Plan Bs for all industries, just in case.
This is potentially an exciting time for young entrepreneurs to add new talents to UK plc. They aren’t used to having this freedom of course but the ones we need’ll find it liberating. Yes there will be those we must support who may be adversely affected by Brexit and we’ll want to welcome those from overseas, bringing the skills and talents to help us build a new future together.
Most importantly, threats can create considerable opportunities as anyone who has done a thorough strategic TOWS analysis of their business or industry sector will appreciate.
Good News About Brexit Invited
So if anyone in the motor industry has an uplifting or optimistic Plan B/business story in this vein or wants to share good financial news with me, to benefit the UK economy through reality and perceptions, I’d be happy to help them spread the word to UK women drivers ie FOXY’s audience.
I want to put the spotlight on positivity pre and post Brexit – so no negativity, bad or fake news please.
To misquote Buzz Lightyear here’s to ‘Reality and beyond…’ in like-minded and determined company I hope.
When my husband Paul and I decided to set up a motoring club for women we struggled to find a name we were both happy with.
Me, being a marketer, wanted a business name I really liked. My husband, being a man, thought we needed a name that said what the business would do.
I didn’t much like his plain ideas including ‘Motoring services for women,’ ‘A female car club,’ and one that linked lipstick and dipstick too close for comfort I thought.
After countless variations and lots of wasted time this became a big problem for me. Until, in a bloke-like stroke of brilliance, he suggested we add a female-ey adjective to lighten his combinations. I can’t remember how long it took to get to the foxy lady combo but once heard it hit the spot.
Over the years FOXY Lady has become a female motoring brand that’s memorable for women and the motor trade alike. Firstly it tells the trade that FOXY Lady Drivers are ‘shrewd, canny and discerning’ (so don’t mess with us) and secondly it tells women drivers that the FOXY Lady Approved standard means garages and car dealers that are genuinely female friendly and likely better than most others.
Back in 2004, before social media had been invented, few of us were all that sophisticated when it came to searching at Google. Nor was Google I’d say or they surely wouldn’t have parked us out in the dark ages, somewhere totally unfindable for starters haha…
As a result, those interested females who’d heard me speak in the early days and remembered the FOXY Lady bit of our name (but not the precise website name) quickly found themselves in deep, murky and often deeply offensive territory – the sort of sites that women we wanted to sell to wouldn’t dream of visiting…
On the other hand, we were probably a good excuse for some men to say ‘Sorry dear, I was simply looking for that motoring website you liked…’
And I’ve often wondered how a fledgling Richard Branson would have fared if he’d launched his Virgin brand online in those bygone days. We did lose some potential customers I’m sad to say, through sheer shock…but we’ve now climbed the Google rankings and most women know to add a motoring phrase anyway…
I also remember phoning the Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 programme from a motorway service station in our early days. I’m not sure about the precise topic but it was something that rubbished women drivers and I wanted to have my say.
My son and husband headed for the Burger bar whilst I braved the phone with the sound of motorway traffic ringing in my ears. ‘We’ll call you back in ten minutes’ they said and did. Whilst I was waiting to be put through I heard Jeremy announce ‘We now have Steph Savill from the Sexy Lady Drivers Club’ on the phone. This broke the ice, we both laughed and I had the opportunity to say our proper business name, to explain what it has come to mean (as in shrewd and discerning) and even get this repeated back. Priceless PR for FOXY as it happened!
I also think that our business name helped me get on Mary Portas’ Secret Shopper when she tried to makeover a car dealership in Aylesbury and ended up nailing a FOXY Lady Approved certificate on the wall at the end of the programme.
I attended Car Dealer Expo (CDX16) at Silverstone last month and decided to write up about the Women in the Motor Industry session based on progress made.
The 2016 panel included professional stunt driver and event manager Annalese Ferrari; founder of the UK Automotive 30% Club Julia Muir; Head of Sales at GardX Amanda Massey and freelance motorsport journalist Georgie Shaw.
Great speakers all, this session was professionally and sympathetically hosted by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez who didn’t seem at all hampered by her self-declared lack of knowledge about the behind the scenes workings of the macho car industry!
The Women In The Motor Industry session was the first of its kind in 2015 when that female panel of four talked about their careers in garages, dealerships, finance and motor sports. But for me the really interesting part was the Question Time that followed.
The ongoing promotional girls divide
Of particular note in 2015 was the shared disapproval of the use of pretty promotional girls employed by Gardx in skin tight clothing. I recall one individual describing how totally offended she’d been by them on arrival at Silverstone that she nearly didn’t attend the conference. Just imagine this issue offending female customers who did walk away and took their business elsewhere?
A senior representative of that business (GardX) was at the 2015 session and stuck up for the rights of these women to wear what they had to, ie what GardX provided, to earn a crust. And of course we must assume that GardX does this for the gratification of men – albeit a decreasing fan club in today’s business arena.
I fall into the uncomfortable camp here, preferring a more feminine and less overtly sexy uniform (I suggested retro-style Goodwood-like frocks to GardX afterwards in an email exchange) as more elegant and less likely to offend influential female customers in future. So I was interested to see and hear whether this topic had been addressed by GardX or would be mentioned again in 2016.
Not just mentioned but top of the bill, with Amanda Massey from GardX on the 2016 Women in the Motor Industry panel, quick to defend the company’s promotional females on the day, as in the photograph.
And whilst I am sure the majority of the female audience felt as uncomfortable as I did about this, clearly the audience thought it would have been rude to challenge a role model speaker on this occasion – and what good might this have done anyway after raising this at #CDX15?
Gender differences in the automotive industry
Other issues discussed in the Women In The Motor Industry session at #CDX16 included
* The image of the motor industry in female minds and who/which industry body should be responsible for the defence/protection of this much maligned image? This matter was also discussed by the guys on a central stage session during the day – shame these discussions couldn’t be joined up?
* The critical influence of parents (especially Mums’) re: female careers. Few of whom see the motor industry as either female friendly or a professional career destination compared to many others…
* The tendency for women to lack confidence (or be too honest?) when applying for new job roles. Compared to overly confident males with less ability who apply and succeed because stronger female candidates didn’t challenge them.
* The reality that not all females who work in the motor industry are petrolheads or mechanically inclined (or should be expected to be).
Of particular note was an inspirational contribution from an upbeat Lucy Burnford who, like me wasn’t a motor industry person, but whose innovative car passport idea has been acquired, adopted and enhanced by The AA. Good on her.
I should also mention Julia Muir’s good work to encourage more females into key leadership roles.
The other contribution I particularly liked was from a female whose name I missed again but with whom I totally identified. She wanted to be known for her professional skills (she was a marketer/communicator like me) and not just for being a woman in the motor industry.
A BIG GENDER DEBATE
I’ll now leave you with a further observation that I believe is relevant based on my gender studies in this marvellous, mysterious and murky motor industry. It’s simply that the main gender difference I find is that most men think the motor industry is about cars and engines. Whereas most females, including me, think it’s about the people.
And we’re both right of course, but the industry has yet to get this balance right in business.
So what I suggest is a BIG GENDER DEBATE to get all these issues aired, addressed and sorted in future.
* One where we all LISTEN to each other, LEARN and CHANGE where necessary.
* One where both genders can express their honest views and experiences, be heard and feel appreciated for their equal contribution within this industry.
Not one where the men are seen to tolerate token gender equality by letting little women have their say in a sideroom, before continuing with the status quo, because certain CEOs think ‘it ain’t broke…’
* One where we all understand and accept that equality doesn’t mean men and women think the same or want to be treated the same – either as staff or customers.
* One that recognises that women are now the dominant car and garage services’ shoppers and we say ‘the motor industry IS broke for us…’
* One that has the strategic objective to attract more of the most talented women into the car industry, for otherwise we are recruiting from just 50% of the talent pool, whilst other industries cherry-pick this female talent ahead of us.
* One where we learn respect for each other from the Boardroom to the workshop floor, in showrooms, parts departments and independent garages. Sadly mutual respect isn’t always there; we also need to instil that respect for our industry in all motorists. But that’s a different story…
In the absence of a BIG GENDER DEBATE as yet (which I’m happy to organise, subject to a suitable sponsor), engagement initiatives like #CDX16, organised in the main by Car Dealer Features Editor Sophie Williamson-Stothert, are each in their way such an important step forward with a view to a healthier and more diverse automotive industry in future.
So let me end by thanking the many insightful men and women here who are helping the retail motor industry move from its shameful 2% of female employees stance, towards a healthier business future, one step at a time…
We are all determined to get there and the industry will thank us when we do!
PS: Please see my Steph Savill website stephsavill.co.uk for details of my consultancy services in this area, including public speaking.
I am proud to be a founder member of the Women’s Equality party known as WE.
But like the motoring Club I run, too many men and sadly women think this sort of gender based stuff is simply feminist fluff with us only wanting things all our own way.
We even hear excuses like ‘there aren’t enough women to take the lead’…
Well here we are and I hope you voted for the RIGHT candidates yesterday. Even if it meant taking a ‘risk’ on women for the first time? How else can we prove our mettle if we aren’t given that chance?
But perhaps the email I received from the party this morning might explain why voting for WE (women and men) and supporting FOXY Lady Drivers Club, is all about making things better for women and in turn for men too. It’s important to see the BIG picture before making gender assumptions and simply walking away…
And in the same way as FOXY Lady Drivers Club looks to the motor industry to support it, the WE party looks to men and women alike to support it. Much as the money raised by Sandy’s speaking tour goes towards WE. For us all to do a better job for everyone. Which isn’t difficult, given the state of things in politics and some areas of the motor industry today…
This is the email I received this morning (Friday 6 May 2016).
“We — Catherine and Sandi — founded the Women’s Equality party to shake up politics and push gender equality on to the agenda. We aimed not only to make change directly, but also to influence the old parties to up their game.
Because of you, that has already happened. Our brilliant campaigns in Wales, Scotland and London, each managed locally and powered by our amazing activists, forced all the other parties to focus on issues that too often are sidelined or ignored. WE turned the debate to caregiving and the gender pay gap and violence against women and WE then watched the other parties sidle up to our manifestos and scoop up our policies to repackage as their own.
Together WE have started something — a party, a movement, a realisation that things must change — and the elections were just the start.
Of course we are on the edges of our seats waiting for the results. There’s not one of our candidates who wouldn’t lift the standard of politics and bring the sorts of perspectives that are so badly lacking.
But we are also already celebrating, and what we are celebrating is YOU. You have helped WE to win in making a difference. And when WE win, everyone wins. Because equality is better for everyone.”