Tag Archives: Female Business Ambassador

Isabel’s MG Mission

Isabel Fletcher has joined MG as an apprentice and is a self-declared woman on a mission.

The 16-year-old former Wolverhampton schoolgirl is determined to become an ambassador for women as she carves out a career at MG Motor UK, the Birmingham-based car maker.

“I’m determined to do well and I’m absolutely delighted to have been selected as the first female apprentice at MG for many years. I’m going to be an ambassador for women and aim to prove that women can do well in the automotive business.”

Isabel gained 12 GCSEs at St Peter’s Collegiate School, including an A* in Engineering and an A in Business Studies. She won four distinctions in her BTEC Engineering qualification and speaks Spanish.

She will now study for an NVQ in Sales & Marketing on a day release course at Bournville College as part of her apprenticeship at MG. She is starting her training at MG with a three month spell in Business Services before moving on to work in all aspects of the business.

Away from work, Isabel is a keen swimmer, is involved with voluntary work at All Saints’ Church, Wolverhampton and is a .22 rifle markswoman with ambitions to join the West Midlands shooting squad. Watch out guys!

Well done Isabel. Time permitting, I suggest you now:

1 Join the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) – I’ll happily propose you for AffIMI status.
2 Add your voice to FOXY’s and let’s get the message out about exciting motor industry careers to females in future.

FOXY Choice Female Business Ambassador network
FOXY Choice identifies Female Business Ambassadors who represent the best interests of women customers.
We’ll be watching your career with great interest and think MG has made a very foxy female choice.


PS You can read more about FOXY Choice’s Female Business Ambassador network and exciting career opportunities for Women in the Motor Industry.

Women running garages makes business sense

Female friendly FOXY Choice approved garagePlease see our latest interview with FOXY Choice’s Female Business Ambassador, Eileen Jack, who runs female friendly Lambert Street Garage in Halifax.

Eileen has been a supporter of the FOXY Choice approved garage scheme since its very early days.

Unlike some opportunistic garage owners who want to see if what we do means foxy ladies queuing at their door without any effort on their part, Eileen takes the female friendly business agenda very seriously.

She understands the female dynamics of course and that it’s often the very sight of a female in the business that reassures wary females; convincing them to visit Lambert Street Garage rather than another local garage. Right or wrong, many women are distrustful of males in the motor industry either based on their past experiences or the stories they have heard from others.

But it’s only when you interview someone that you start to get a feel for the person, their business principles and the other loves in their lives.

It is clear that Eileen loves horses as well as engines and we now know Lambert Street Garage is a female friendly family business which she runs with her son. Her husband brought her into the business and it’s equally evident that she does her job well and it’s sorting out her customers’ motoring problems that really turns her on.

And that is what makes a successful business of course. We’re not just here to make money on one-off sales, we’re here to make a difference through customer relationships. Get things right for the customer – exceed her expectations wherever you can, and she’ll pay back in spades through loyalty, referrals and by acting as your brand ambassador whenever she can.

Which is why having a Female Brand Ambassador in any business (but particularly in one with such a male dominated image) makes such good sense. And why, if you are female, it makes good sense to promote your existence and the fact that any wary customer (male or female alike) can speak to you about their car if they’d prefer.

And if the Female Business Ambassador isn’t the business owner, who is likely to do all this sort of thing instinctively, it surely makes business sense to appoint the right female to represent women’s best interests in this business. And to back her judgement and ideas to bring you more female business in future.


“I don’t mind living in a man’s world if I can be a woman in it.” Marilyn Monroe

Why choose a female friendly garage?

Q: Why should women choose a FOXY Choice approved female friendly garage?
A: Because they are better than the rest.

The UK retail motor industry is surely one of the last male bastions employing c90% men and only 10% women. Whilst most other industries have identified the power of the female purse, this industry continues to be slow to recognise that the gender spenders, women, are not men in skirts; in a misguided attempt to treat both genders as equal.

This is despite women influencing some 80% of all household purchases including buying new cars and garage services like MOT’s, car servicing and repairs. And despite women being wealthy yet wary shoppers in workshop and showroom environments, which we correctly describe as ‘too blokey.’

What a business opportunity for those that get female service levels right, ahead of others.

We’ve all heard stories about frighteningly shoddy garage workmanship, offensive predatory Swiss Toni tactics and a shocking tendency to overcharge us because we are women and don’t (always) do mechanical jargon and such like. Like many men too of course.

And those motorists who are in the know, know that UK garages aren’t licensed and mechanics don’t have to be qualified to repair our cars. Imagine allowing an unqualified electrician or gas fitter loose in your home? But we often do on our cars…

Then there’s the huge divide between the competence of garage businesses based on the equipment they use, their ethics and the prices they charge.

Which is where FOXY Choice steps in – a shameless plug but OK because what we do is unique and someone who sees it from the point of view of the motorist has to do it!

FOXY Choice expects all approved garages to sign the female friendly FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need.’ We give them marketing materials and a whole lot more to promote themselves to women and encourage that marketing gift – word of mouth. We also encourage their female customers to tell us what they think so we are forever monitoring our subscribers and  their customer service  standards.

Over and above this we are the only independent consumer organisation to explain and identify quality signs women drivers can trust such as ATA (Automotive Technician Accreditation), BSI Kitemark and OFT code approved schemes. In FOXY’s opinion these are measurable ways that all motorists can steer clear of garage cowboys where women drivers are likely to be ripped off.

We’re also the only organisation to steer a clear course between the independent vs franchised dealership choice. Unlike trade bodies funded by manufacturers (who will sell women franchised dealer garages) or ones representing independent garages, we give you the information so you can make your choice.

If you want franchised dealership expertise (they have to train their mechanics to manufacturer standards and are likely to do this to ATA standards too, to repair all makes of cars) or like their customer services and facilities then that may well be worth paying a bit more. On the other hand, you are likely to save money if you pick a good independent where their overheads are less resulting in lower hourly rates. In short, the choice must be the motorists alone but in both categories be dragons because complaint stats consistently confirm that a similar percentage of good and bad garages whether they are dealerships and/or independents….

So the FOXY Choice UK garage network helps you shop around and tells you which garages (fastfits, independents and franchised dealerships) have signed the female friendly FOXY Promise and their evidence of measurable quality including awards.

And which ones employ women in customer facing roles (because women trust women).

And which ones have been recommended by women.

So all women can make an informed and female friendly choice in a male dominated industry that thinks equality for women means treating us like men. Big mistake guys.

We’re looking for the best.


New in 2011 – Female friendly garage feedback invited here.
New in 2010 – See which FOXY Choice garages employ women in customer facing roles.

How to attract the right female talent

The motor industry needs more of the right females at the top of the UK motor industry but how do we get them there?

I spoke about ‘marketing used cars to women’ at the AM conference’s Used Car Market trade conference in September and was interviewed about this subject afterwards hence the FOXY clip on YouTube.

My presentation was to franchise dealerships and car dealers about women being the elephant in the room. Despite the immense value of their purse when it comes to shopping for themselves and influencing others, many still fall prey to Swiss Toni and Arthur Daley-like tactics and are encouraged to feel even more ill at ease by the portrayal of unscrupulous garage mechanics in Coronation Street, EastEnders and Emmerdale TV soaps.

Bearing in mind that women talk 😉 and many claim to trust other women more than men in this industry it is surprising that so many (> 80%) of the industry workforce are still men.

Wake up guys – this is a big business opportunity…

But how to recruit more of the right women into the motor industry and make garage services and new car shopping more female friendly?

The problem is that it’s all too easy for dominant men to recruit in their own likeness without a second thought and by doing so deprive the right women from being able to compete…

For example, a recent advert for a car sales person (in a prestige franchise dealership) is fairly typical I imagine. In our local paper it asked for car sales experience thus instantly eliminating most of the females who might have been looking for a sales job. They are highly unlikely to be among the <20% of females who have worked in the industry before. Even though a female might be a terrific sales person in another industry…

But the dealership won’t have thought that she could bring new business to them because this is the way they do business ie it’s traditional to recruit men. And of course, if the business is actively looking to attract a man they are going about this in the right way because talented women will pass over their ad and it’s unlikely that anyone would imagine or suggest that their ad discriminates against females;  just females without the required experience ;-).

So unless some positive discrimination and female Board selection is engineered in some way, starting with more female NEDs at the top of AM100 dealership groups perhaps, I doubt anything much will change to improve service levels (for men and women) by attracting the best candidates, which need to include more women!

Most importantly in my opinion, the females need to come from other industries because the successful ones that have made it to the top in the motor industry are accustomed to the male culture, accept it as it is and can’t see why other women might not have the same tenacity to take on men and win. And new recruits starting at the bottom of the ladder can’t influence the culture…

So why would ambitious females choose an industry where they sense (our intuitive skills will be right here) that they will be made to feel the odd one out… This is a tough one to answer and I am struggling a bit here because after 20 years in the evenly gender-balanced travel, tourism and leisure industries I was amazed to sense the cultural difference in this industry. Don’t get me wrong, I have met many fantastic advocates of what FOXY is doing but at least as many men who think there is no need for us, female friendly garage standards or trained and accredited mechanics for that matter. Their attitude is that what they are doing is good enough… but it isn’t, as the likes of the Which? garage survey must continue to remind us. But that’s a different issue.

Interestingly one way to check which businesses are female friendly employers is served by a FOXY Choice subscription. Yes our marketing services identify female friendly businesses for customers, first and foremost, but the existence of a Female Business Ambassador is surely a good sign of a female friendly employer.

Let’s face it, most women are more natural candidates for front of customer facing roles including car sales, reception and all aspects of administration. Particularly Service Advisers who liaise between the customer (male and female) and the workshop guys I’d have thought. There’s no secret here – it’s simply to do with our interest in people rather than cars and our natural communication skills.

I think it’s fairly obvious what skills and talents the right females can bring to the party providing they are employed for their skills, personality and experience. But if women are employed for their looks, and we all know this happens, then the industry will never make it better for their customers.


For female friendly motoring services have a look at the FOXY Lady Drivers Club website.

Female Business Ambassadors in the motor industry

Female Business Ambassadors in the male dominated motor industry are important role models who have the ability to make their business more female friendly for women customers AND females who choose a career in their footsteps.

To date women in the motor industry remain a rare species and many have a cultural work challenge on their hands. To remain female and all that is good about being so in a male dominated and often testosterone driven world where 80% of all employees are male and female customers and employees often feel ill at ease in overly macho garage and dealership environments.

All women want equality of course when it comes to jobs, opportunities and pay but we also want respect from our male colleagues and to be treated as women.

The temptation is that after working so hard to be accepted in a man’s world that women learn to beat them by outplaying them at their game – in so doing becoming tougher than they would be in a female workplace or if allowed to be and valued for being themselves.

Which is a shame because male and female sexes are designed to work well together be that in the home or at work. We each have abilities, talents and skills to complement the other and when respect is there, it works well.

Where they can, I’d like women to do more to make the motor industry a more female friendly and welcoming place for women. To encourage more females to consider the motor industry as a rewarding industry to join. And so that wary women customers feel more at ease in garages and dealerships and even enjoy their car buying and car servicing trips in future. Women trust women of course, and they are likely to be the domestic spender. Given a choice, they’ll spend more in a business that recognises their needs, will think better of the industry and will tell their friends.  Makes business sense to me!

There are some fantastic role models who do this naturally of course and one of the best is surely Sarah Sillars at the IMI leading a well balanced gender team and doing great work to encourage young men and women into the motor industry. And there is some excellent work in the pipeline by a team of Automotive Careers Champions who have signed up to do their bit and spread the word about the exciting career opportunities in the motor industry.

But there are many women who still think that the only way forward is for women to be better, tougher, more ruthless than men; as a result they don’t appreciate why Mums work flat out to be able to leave on time, why they need holiday time off with their children and who need time off to cover child/relatives illness and essential visits to doctors and dentists. In my experience, the good workers make this up by truckloads of hard work afterwards because they need the work and genuinely value their employer’s flexibility and humanity.   This isn’t because working Mums are less capable or committed workers – it’s because they are often juggling more responsibilities than most others when it comes to homes, children and careers.

And there are some women who can’t understand why we might want to elevate reluctant women in some commercial instances or why we might need to make dealerships or garages more female friendly places. Some women who have fought their way upwards don’t see an alternative journey or want to help others have an easier climb.

However I’m delighted that networks like FOXY’s and the industry infrastructure is in place for the motor industry to be a much more female friendly place. What we now need to do is to make sure we promote motor industry jobs to women. As things stand, more by accident than intent, job specifications are often written by men and for men, placing ads where mainly men will read them; hence the self fulfilling male multiplier recruitment model.

And we need to make sure that male dominated businesses become good and female friendly employers in terms of their working conditions – sadly I know of women joining leading dealerships who don’t stay long. Knowing the quality of the businesses I am tempted to say that perhaps they were the wrong recruits but when it doesn’t work out it tends to dampen the equality fervour – it’s easier to revert to what you know best.

Never mind training women to get on in the industry, how about training men to understand what women can do for their business?

IMI Automotive Careers Champion – champing at the bit to encourage more women into the motor industry because it is the right thing to do…

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”
Madeleine Albright
64th US Secretary of State