In today’s society perceptions are what matter, right or wrong.
The motor industry is perceived to be too blokey therefore it is…
Women are perceived to be bad drivers therefore we must be?
Women are perceived to know or care less about motoring safety and car maintenance than men, therefore that’s true too…
Clearly much of this is total nonsense and a large pinch of reasonableness is needed to sweeten the gender pill. Much better surely to say ‘some motoring businesses can be more female friendly’, ‘some men are better drivers than some women’ and ‘some women delegate their motoring safety to men… who may well know as little about this as they do‘.
Undoubtedy there is much work still to be done to identify the genuinely female friendly motoring businesses and to encourage women to visit these garages more often, to do with their personal safety. Or for them to feel confident enough to go forth and buy a new car, without the perceived need to take an honorary male with them for moral support.
So, based on a better knowledge of female (largely unimpressed) motoring perceptions than most, here is FOXY’s Female Motoring Manifesto for 2015 in the hope that we can encourage important changes through some shared resolutions to make a difference in future with women in mind.
1. MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FEMALES IN MOTORSPORT
There are lots of fast women racers who cannot show off their talents because available sponsorship money goes first to young men. But who might have anticipated that women could play football, cricket and rugby to rival the men’s game or fight on the front line perhaps, as well as men. So why shouldn’t some females be capable of driving as fast as some men in future? And have dedicated races to prove this?
I predict they’d be a PR scoop, whatever.
NB: If any business is thinking of sponsoring a female driver and would like an introduction to an up and coming girl racer, ask us for an introduction.
2. MORE WOMEN IN EXECUTIVE ROLES IN AUTOMOTIVE BOARDROOMS
The motor industry is slow to recognise the business case for more females in UK automotive boardrooms. There is a real need for female executive directors who are tasked to ensure the business is genuinely a female friendly employer and to be role models for the future talent pipeline.
Never mind quotas – just do it! Make sure women are on the candidate selection list then choose the best for the job. Women will rise to the challenge once this discipline is in place. Give women a chance.
NB: The right internal candidate is likely better placed to do this than an external Non Executive Director who has less experience of the business culture.
3. MORE WOMEN IN CAR SALES ROLES
There are sound business reasons for having more females selling cars. They don’t come with an Arthur Daley reputation, they understand what females want and they may well be more honest/better informed than some male salesmen. Give women a try.
NB: Businesses may need to be more flexible to appeal to the right women, especially those looking for evenings and weekend work.
4. MORE COMMUNITY GARAGE/CAR SALES EVENTS
Many women would like to know more about their car care and by organising regular ladies evenings this is an excellent way for local businesses to demonstrate their community spirit and establish a relationship of trust with local ladies.
NB: Contact us to promote any ladies evenings at the Club website.
5. CLEANER GARAGES, ESPECIALLY WASHROOMS, WITH WOMEN IN MIND
There is no excuse for dirty garages today whether these are independently owned or franchised. As a minimum customers should be able to rely on a clean washroom that is regularly inspected/cleaned, not one that is all too evidently shared with mechanics or used as a kitchen facility by staff.
6. INDUSTRY STAFF TO BE LISTED ON A PROFESSIONAL REGISTER
The industry has a poor image. All motorists should be able to rely on their car being repaired by a licensed technician. All customers buying a new or used car should be able to rely on professional advice and ethical behaviour. Whilst there may be more than one accredited route to that licensing goal, the end result should be that all staff are listed on one industry ie the IMI Professional Register.
7. DON’T LEAVE CAR MAINTENANCE TO MEN
This is a wake up call for women who either think that a nearly new car doesn’t need maintaining before its first MOT or that the condition of the car they drive is up to their husband, partner or Dad. When the Police stop her because her car has no tax or MOT, she gets the fine, the points and the higher insurance premium. If her car causes an accident and is then proven to be unroadworthy through negligence, she is to blame – nobody else.
8. HAGGLE FREE NEW CAR PRICES
It is patently unfair that she/he who knows when to haggle gets a better new car deal than she/he who doesn’t know to haggle. Or that she thinks a man can negotiate a better deal. It’s time for more honesty, ethics and transparency in car showrooms and less ‘smoke and mirror’ sales tactics designed to confuse the vulnerable with part exchange and car finance permutations.
9. MORE WOMEN IN WORKSHOPS
If she wants to be a mechanic give her a chance. Make her welcome… Consider mechanically-minded Mums as future MOT testers. Encourage female apprentices via your local school. Young females are outperforming young males in Science and Maths at GCSE levels, women can use diagnostic tools too, many are more conscientious completing task schedules and are often better organised.
10. MAKE TEST DRIVES MORE FUN
Too many females delegate test drives to men. Too many females buy the same car make again simply because of the familiarity of the drive. Too many solo women lack the confidence to take a test drive with a solo man and too many Mums are distracted by children…
As a result, too many cars are sold that aren’t necessarily the best buy for her. A fun test drive, with children catered for where appropriate and a female member of staff tasked to make sure this is the right car for her, should be a key part of a female friendly car buying experience.
Those businesses that, hand on heart, tick all these boxes deserve recognition for getting this right. But the reality is, very few businesses will be able to tick all the boxes that COULD apply to them.
Nonetheless it’s important to have measurable goals and hopefully FOXY’s Manifesto will encourage more businesses in the motor industry to look at their strategic gender agenda with a view to becoming a more female friendly business and employer in 2015.
Because, with more independent, wealthy and influential women drivers, who are rarely as impressed by local motoring services as they should be, this is a real opportunity for genuinely female friendly garages and dealers to see this as a means of stealing competitive advantage in the female mind.
Here’s wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2015.