Tag Archives: female friendly approved

Welcome to our female friendly motoring world

Screenshot-19Here are the latest UK car dealers, garages and repairers to sign the FOXY Lady Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need’. They also meet our FOXY Lady Approved standards re quality, value for money, cleanliness and customer service.

All we now ask of Club members and women drivers reading this is that you provide recent female feedback to prove these businesses are genuinely getting service levels right, on the spot.

After checking you are a bona fide customer, you will then receive a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club (from current subscribers listed) to thank you for providing this vital feedback.

Here’s where to check the full details of all FOXY Lady Approved local car dealers and garages not just the ones below.

We welcome female feedback re these subscribers as well as other local car dealers and garages.

FOXY Lady Female Friendly Approved NEW CAR DEALERSHIPS

ALDERSHOT Charters Citroen
EPSOM Shelly Motors (Kia, Subaru, Isuzu)
LEICESTER Anstey Sturgess Motor Group (Fiat, Hyundai)
LEICESTER Narborough Road Sturgess Motor Group (LandRover, Jaguar)
LEICESTER Almond Road Sturgess Motor Group (Volvo, Alfa Romeo)
LEICESTER Aylestone Road Sturgess Motor Group (Fiat, Hyundai, Suzuki)
LONDON City Alan Day Volkswagen
LONDON Hampstead Alan Day Volkswagen
LONDON Kensington London Morgan
LONDON New Southgate Alan Day Volkswagen
LONDON Bellamys Ltd (Citroen)
PEEBLES David Harrison Ltd (Ford)
REDHILL Vines of Redhill (BMW & MINI)

FOXY Lady Female Friendly Approved USED CAR DEALERS

AYLESBURY Gatehouse Car Sales (as in the Channel 4 Mary Portas Secret Shopper March 2015 episode)
BOLNEY A1 Car Search Ltd
EPSOM Shelly Motors
FLEET Imperial Car Supermarkets Fleet
HASSOCKS Silverbrookes
IPSWICH Simon Shield Cars Ltd
LEICESTER Anstey Sturgess Motor Group, Anstey
LEICESTER Narborough Road Sturgess Motor Group
LEICESTER Almond Road Sturgess Motor Group
LEICESTER Aylestone Road Sturgess Motor Group
LONDON Kensington Monaco VW
PEEBLES David Harrison Ltd
POOLE Norman Motors
PORTSMOUTH Imperial Car Supermarkets
REDHILL Vines of Redhill BMW & MINI
REDRUTH Powells Garage
SALE Freedom Cars Ltd
SOUTHAMPTON We Sell Small Cars
SOUTHAMPTON Imperial Car Supermarkets
YEOVIL West Country Cars

The Latest FOXY Lady Female Friendly Approved GARAGES

EPSOM Shelly Motors
GRANTHAM Gainsborough Corner Garage
PETERBOROUGH Woodston Motorist Centre
SOUTHPORT Karwowski Motors

The Latest FOXY Lady Female Friendly Approved Accident (and cosmetic) REPAIRERS

ISLE OF WIGHT Smart Technique
LONDON N18 Supreme Motors

NB: Some subscribers demonstrate excellent quality standards but can still fail FOXY’s compliance process, usually as a result of insufficient female feedback. We recommend that all women drivers check in advance to see which businesses are current subscribers of FOXY Choice AND always supply feedback about them afterwards to prove their female friendly credentials.

As at 3 March 2015.

Swindon’s Manathome Garage becomes A1 Autos for the day

We weren’t at all surprised to hear that Manathome Garage had been selected as the most photogenic garage in Swindon for a promotional film commissioned by a nationwide engine oil distributor.

Photo caption:
Owner Gemma McCracken and technician John Horgan.

A film producer’s ideal garage choice

From a producer’s perspective, you’d want a garage that was measurably better than others, impressively clean and with good looking staff where possible. Not as easy to find in the UK motor industry as some might think.

So last week Noha Agency homed in on Manathome Garage in Sheppard Street to meet Gemma McCracken and husband Gavin before filming the video in the workshop.

Gemma said: “There were lots of actors, cameramen and lights. It wasn’t what I was expecting but it’s great to think that a top agency like this was happy to use a local independent garage, even if we did have to pretend to be A1 Autos for the day.”

Sadly the DVD calls the garage A1 Autos, a made up name in this instance. But now we all know it’s Manathome Garage in Swindon…

And the perfect female friendly garage choice…

The garage, which is the only female friendly approved service and repair garage in Swindon regularly holds workshops for women drivers to learn more about how their cars work. Manathome Garage holds FOXY Lady Approved status because of these garage evenings coupled with Gemma’s presence, the evident cleanliness of this garage and that it operates to a Trading Standards Institute approved Code of Practice.

What a shame they can’t be promoted in their real name in this DVD – hence this blog of course, so more women (and men) in Swindon know where their best female garage choice is and what it’s really called…

The female friendly tipping point for UK garages

Could the recent Sky Sports sackings bring about a more female friendly and less sexist motor industry?

Andy Gray and Richard Keys were sacked for loutish comments and behaviour in a clearly male dominated business. It’s not just what they said so much (because they weren’t on air), it’s the way they said it and perceptions matter massively. We now read they were part of a bullying and highly sexist culture and most of their colleagues, male and female, were delighted to see the back of them.

But can the motor industry learn from any of this? In a male dominated industry where c80% of staff are male it’s perhaps understandable that the female voice gets crowded out in the macho voice choir in our garages, workshops, dealerships and car showrooms.

Sadly this is a self-perpetuating cycle where the men in the majority  are unlikely to question why women in the minority don’t want to work with them 😉 and carry on as before… as if that makes it right.

And when you do the PC thing and ask the impressive and rare females who make it to the top of the motor industry, they’ll undoubtedly say they haven’t encountered sexism in their careers – which is probably because they’ve learned to turn a blind eye on occasion and are better at playing the game than most men. But less doughty females will wonder if it’s worth it and find more welcoming opportunities in other industries.

Which is a real shame but all to do with female perceptions that the industry isn’t addressing. The fact that women at the top are still the exception, that female customer perceptions are of an overly blokey industry that doesn’t understand them and that many men think that’s all OK…

Having worked in travel and leisure businesses for 20 years I didn’t find it OK at all and I felt distinctly ill at ease with the very different culture in the motor industry. It was like walking into a wall of disrespect, disinterest and incomprehension based on my gender and outlook. So much so I began to question my own ability…

And I am not alone in still feeling the odd one out if truth be told. But much like Gray and Keys colleagues it’s only when the bullies have gone that you’ll hear the real truth from the many excellent business owners and female friendly guys, gals, garage and dealership staff that want the industry to be cleaned up in the minds of future female customers…

So, in the hope that Andy Gray might be the female friendly tipping point the UK motor industry needs, here are my Top Ten Female Friendly recommendations so the industry can start to sell itself as professional and trustworthy to more females in future…

1.  Start at the top – encourage more female Non Executive Directors from outside the industry onto car manufacturer, Top 100 franchised dealership and garage/automotive group Boards.
2.  Get recruitment right from the bottom up – recruit more women into the industry (ditch the ‘industry experience needed’ approach; that means men…).
3.  Tell female customers if you employ female staff (because women trust women).
4.  Review all marketing communications (internal and external) to make sure they cater for women.
5.  Communicate with women where they are (which isn’t the FA Cup or TalkSport channels I’d suggest ;-)) and learn to understand their language…
6.  Base minimum car sales and garage service and repair standards on aspirational female needs and expectations (because women are more demanding shoppers than most men).
7.  Invest in female friendly approved training and accreditation for car sales and garage service staff.
8. Regularly check for spotless washrooms; this really matters to women and many are below par… and remember women may need facilities for children.
9. Outlaw Page 3 magazine covers in petrol forecourt shops; and scantily clad female hostesses at automotive exhibitions.
10.  Female employees shouldn’t put up with sexist comments. Say no to sexism wherever you find it and explain why this offends women. And be sure not to invite sexist comments by the way you dress for business.

Having ticked these measures off, the UK garage industry should now be seeing a more female friendly image in the mirror ;-). To measure and maintain this standard, it could now use an independent and specialist female friendly complaints handling service (FOXY Choice springs to mind) to handle all employee and customer complaints. We’d then feed all constructive criticism and advice back to the employer and into any female friendly complaints and/or approved accreditation process.

Eh voila. That would go a long way to present a more female friendly image in the motor industry to benefit all customers.

And to quote Michael Caine  ‘not a lot of people know that’…. this will also improve the bottom line because businesses that employ women are apparently more profitable than those that don’t. The reason for that seems fairly obvious to me – female friendly businesses that recognise our needs are the ones we prefer to spend our money with, hence the profit variation. And because women buy and influence c85% of all household shopping today we are looking to do business with the ones that get it right for us.

Those that get this right understand that being female friendly is a matter of common business sense not feminism in any way. Although I’m not sure that Andy Gray, Richard Keys and their motoring industry ilk will EVER see it like that!


Find out more about schemes that measure female friendly garage standards at FOXY Choice and about female friendly approved training and accreditation plans for 2011.

How to tell if a garage is REALLY female friendly?

To be genuinely female friendly in my book any garage, dealer or dealership has to be one of the very best there are and be able to prove this to discerning foxy ladies in their area.

It’s all too easy to say ‘we are female friendly’ or ‘we are a good garage’.

What’s to stop bad and unfriendly garages, dealers and dealerships from using this as a marketing ruse? And some do, believe me 😉 without understanding what women want (which is not colouring a male product pink…).

Well I thought long and hard about this before I set up FOXY Lady Drivers Club and again before launching the female friendly FOXY Choice garage website last year because whoever sets out these standards must be totally independent and not influenced by an owner or sponsor that has a vested interest in spinning the marketing message in their direction. Which must be tempting.

You could say, for example, that Forte Oils has a vested interest in signing up any garage that will sell a lot of their oil and fill in gaps in their UK network. But they have a brand image to preserve so presumably they are weeding out any chancers as they go…

Similarly you could also say that the Motor Codes service and repair scheme, sponsored as it is by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders who represent the new car manufacturers, have a vested interest in promoting franchised dealerships over independent garages, which this scheme does in the ratio of some 80:20 still, despite knowing that dealerships carrying out garage services will charge motorists up to 30% more than they’d pay otherwise in a quality independent garage. But you could also say it was a brave attempt, they have tried (albeit long after the dealerships got their towels down first) and this ratio might be improving slightly by now…

But the real way to judge a quality or female friendly business is surely by giving the customer (in this context the female motorist) the information they need to make the right buying choice for them. I find that women drivers want to be reassured by ‘feeling’ the quality and customer service in advance, be this in terms of doing their homework online concerning business facilities, services, amenities, awards, values and other female satisfaction levels.

The only problem with testimonials, I find, is that they can so easily be written by anyone or those with a vested interest again, and to order. I know this happens because we follow up the many recommendations we get and very often the surnames are the same as the business owners so it isn’t rocket science to spot this!

The best way for the moment is surely through self-certification where the business promises quality performance which is much higher than just ‘work completed as agreed’, ‘invoices that match quoted prices’ or ‘we use a job checklist’ <yawn>.  These should all be minimum standards in the motor trade and if one thing has shocked me as an industry outsider it was the low standards in this area when our personal safety is at risk, should a mechanic be one screw short in his personal tool kit for example.


What FOXY does instead is to ask garage and dealership subscribers to sign the female friendly FOXY Promise© to ‘never knowingly overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need or want’. They then get marketing materials from FOXY Choice to prove this.

We also share female feedback within the Club, act as a backstop if anyone needs our female ‘welly’ to get things sorted out and ultimately we are prepared to eject any ‘couldn’t care less’ or worse behaviour from our network of female friendly garages and dealerships across the UK.

The next stage will be to prove that a business is female friendly, much in the same way as the OFT Code of Practice (stage one ‘I promise’, stage two ‘I can prove’) and this is what the femalefriendlyapproved.com website will do in 2010 including consultancy advice, female friendly training, a managed and approved status scheme and ongoing monitoring of standards including mystery shopping and a home for stressed out and confused women drivers – all looking for independent and trustworthy advice and tips about where the best value and female friendly businesses are to be found.