Tag Archives: female friendly car dealerships

Why can’t car showrooms be like travel agencies?

A new survey confirms that 3 out of every 4 male and female customers feel ill at ease in new car showrooms. Yet they are out to spend £10,000+ and often a lot more.

Carried out by Auto Trader whose extensive online presence may suggest a vested interest, this confirms what women drivers say.

Women who influence the majority of car sales and feel that pushy and poorly informed sales people make new car shopping a daunting experience.

“There’s no denying that entering a new car showroom can be overwhelming for buyers” said Matt Thompson, Group Marketing Director at Auto Trader. “In today’s testing economy, cost conscious consumers are spending cautiously and investing in a new car is a significant purchase decision to make. There’s a real opportunity for new car dealers to help put buyers at ease in the showroom. By making the buyer feel relaxed and giving them the breathing space and time to browse at their leisure they are far more likely to go ahead with a sale.”

The research also showed that half of those surveyed (50%) cited ‘perceived attitude of staff’ as further reason to feel uneasy followed by a lack of obvious price tags or costs (47%). When asked what would make the shopping experience more pleasant, half the sample wanted to browse at their leisure whereas 37% wanted more knowledgeable sales staff.

Speaking personally I don’t like the glass bowl atmosphere of most car showrooms today. Why are they all so similar?  If I am wearing heels you can hear me tapping my way around so I feel self conscious with eyes upon me; from the same floor and often looking down on me (which is coincidentally often the feeling I get from this!)

But the thing I like least of all is the fact that car buying novices like me are expected to do our buying homework outside the showroom (where the experts are) and then go through the same shopping experience in each of several shortlisted model showrooms. This takes ages and can be such a waste of time. The likes of Top Gear and car buying magazines are rarely written for me (I don’t do torque or jargon remember and I have different needs…) yet most websites seem to think equality means I want the same as men…

I don’t.

Why can’t showrooms be more like travel agencies instead? With a friendly local face to help you make the best model choice based on quality awards, performance surveys, my needs, expectations and budget. We’d chat over a cuppa and she (I’d prefer a female face given a choice…) could then tell me what my best makes/models/deals are; then introduce a sales person to take over.

And I’d like a female member of staff to take me on my test drive – that is if I can’t have the car to test over a weekend of course…

Were this all to happen, chances are many makes/models wouldn’t make it into most shopping shortlists, truth be told. Who would buy makes that languish at the bottom of safety and reliability leagues when they can choose ones that are always at the top and are clearly better value for money? They are only bought nowadays because too few motorists know they have a better choice.

But this business model could work in future and even now there are foxy dealerships providing more female friendly services and amenities than others, identifying Female Business Ambassadors for starters and employing personal shopping assistants to reduce the stress levels and minimise the time this all takes for men and women motorists alike.

One thing is for certain in my opinion – the shopping solution is not faster online services because buying a car is a major investment and one where we deserve the luxury of personal service and being spoiled. Unless you can afford to treat a new car like a disposable commodity of course or are getting a fleet car to order, it’s always best to have a known name and a local friendly face to talk to in the event of any delivery complications or future concerns. And that person becomes your loyalty link with a view to future aftersales and new car business in future, of course.


If you want a more personal car shopping advisory service, join the Club and we’ll hold your hand during the entire process…

Made in Dagenham in 2010

I saw and enjoyed the feel good film Made in Dagenham recently and came away wondering if things have really changed all that much since 1968 for women and those working in the UK motor industry.

Yes of course factory conditions are more female friendly nowadays but women still haven’t earned wage parity and seem just as stressed, overburdened and short of time in 2010 whilst we juggle work, career, family and personal lives.

I don’t know all there is to know about Ford, Dagenham and working practices in the UK motor industry in the 60s, nor do I know how much of the film’s commentary is authentic but I am assuming that the important bits are true. Important bits like Ford US sending their oxymoronic industry relations guru to the UK who threatened the then (female) Secretary of Trade that if she didn’t sort out the female strike at Dagenham, Ford would take its assembly plant elsewhere. What a bully.

But thanks to a combination of factors including the determination of real life battleaxe union leader Rose (a million miles removed from the film portrayal of the quietly spoken and pretty Rita apparently), PM Harold Wilson being out of communications range (no mobile phones or internet communications then remember) and HM Government’s representative being feisty Barbara Castle, the female workers got a settlement at 92% of the male wage. 100% would have been too much for men to stomach at this stage, apparently, but the action did herald the 1970 Equal Pay Act and all that promised for the future.

Yet 40 years on, in 2010 women working full time in Britain still earn on average 16.4 per cent less per hour than men. How can this be justified?

I listened to the real female strike leaders in a recent Woman’s Hour programme. They explained that it wasn’t equal pay they started fighting for; what they wanted was equal recognition for their machinist skills alongside the men. Of course they soon learned that the only way to measure this was financially, hence the massive significance of this battle for women worldwide in future. Just think of it – in 1968 they were earning less than half the wage of men whilst doing the same job for the Ford Motor Company.

I find it interesting that the UK motor industry is still such a male dominated environment where more than 80% of the workforce is male. Is this the case for machinists nowadays I wonder? Could it be that this widely publicised strike deterred women from joining the motor industry and encouraged testosterone fuelled male union leaders to recruit in their own male likeness – both things could have contributed to the male dominated and distinctly un-female friendly image of the industry today.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Ford Motor Co reacts to the film to remind women how it is a female friendly business today. Like most manufacturers they seem to feel the need to treat men and women customers the same in franchised dealerships which is missing the point – men and women are different, with different needs and expectations.

I think Ford UK would do well to look at ways to satisfy these different gender needs. Time saving services (their Direct internet offering with female friendly extras perhaps?), Female Business Ambassadors, moneysaving and preferential deals in female friendly garages and franchised dealerships – these will all attract the female purse if packaged correctly and ahead of other brands.

Needless to say (sales plug coming…) FOXY can help because it’s a female brand meaning shrewd, canny and astute; exactly what women need to be to get a fair deal in the male dominated motor industry today.

And ‘female friendly’ has to be the future for leading businesses in the motor industry because women influence c80% of car and garage sales, because the industry has such a poor image in female minds, because women trust women in such a male dominated world and because female job applicants (that the industry needs many more of) want to work for a female friendly employer knowing there are many of the rest out there…


FOXY Choice subscribers sign the female friendly FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need or want’. They are then introduced to members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club in bi-monthly Member Newsletters. Women wanting to work in the UK motor industry would do well to choose a FOXY Choice subscriber as evidence of their female friendly employer credentials.

Female friendly VW garage offers in Nuneaton

It would be wrong to dismiss dealerships for female friendly garage services and truly foxy prices in Nuneaton.

The recent Which? garage survey confirmed that Motor Codes garages were on average about £2 cheaper than Bosch Car Service independent garages for the work Which? commissioned. As far as workmanship was concerned, Bosch garages did a bit better than Motor Codes subscribers (both picked up on c60% of faults) and both are operating to the OFT Code of Practice.

NB: Bosch garages have reached Stage Two of the OFT Code and can use the OFT logo whereas Motor Codes service and repair subscribers (88% dealerships) are still at Stage One and can’t use the logo.

So the common impression that independent garages are always much cheaper than dealerships ain’t necessarily so…

Certainly not when it comes to the latest car servicing garage offers charged by Listers Volkswagen – £119 for a minor car service and £229 for a major service. Plus, an MOT for £30 with nothing hidden.

It’s good to see open and transparent pricing in car dealerships. So many seem to doubt their competitiveness? Well done Listers.

Terms apply as you’d expect – these prices are for VWs aged 3 to 10 years with a 2.0 litre or smaller engine and include parts, labour, oil and VAT. Other vehicles will be quoted for as requested.

If you want to be sure of a female friendly garage welcome it’s Listers VW at Nuneaton that has signed the female friendly FOXY Promise to date. To book your VW in for its MOT or annual servicing visit just call the bookings line on 01789 403828 or email VW Listers Nuneaton via their FOXY Choice page.

And tell us how you get on afterwards – there’s a Garage Feedback link on FOXY Choice’s home page.


Time to reward good women drivers?

Yet another survey to tell us that many cars driven by women drivers aren’t as safe on our roads as they should be. Last week it was Kwik Fit telling us this and now it’s the Ford Motor Company, relayed to us by female friendly car dealership Hendy Ford in Southampton and environs.

... but I had it MOT'd last monthFord has found¹ that millions of male and female motorists (another massively extrapolated survey mind you) are taking unnecessary risks by scrimping on essential car maintenance in an attempt to reduce their overall motoring costs. Nearly one in five motorists interviewed had no breakdown cover and 15 per cent say they have skipped or postponed routine car servicing to save money.

This situation is worse among younger drivers including students living on a meagre grant. One in three 18 to 24 year old drivers are making do without roadside assistance, with drivers in London most likely (22 per cent) to take this risk.

Mike Weatherston, Group Marketing Manager at Hendy Ford, said: “Whilst trying to avoid the cost, many of these drivers could regret skipping basic maintenance and roadside cover.”

How true Mike. My concern is that this lack of regular maintenance and servicing could be the cause of an unnecessary accident which injures someone (what price economy then). Few motorists realise that if a car is seen to be unroadworthy, the insurer can withdraw cover as well.

I’d also add two further considerations to this important debate.

1 Many women drivers dread going to garages or dealerships because they don’t consider them to be female friendly places.

2 Many motorist, male and female alike, think that the industry MOT is a safety check for the year when it’s only a snapshot on the day.

Yes they should know these things but if they don’t because the industry doesn’t welcome them (as in 1) or explain this well enough (as in 2), whose fault is that?

The answer is that there is a massive communications gap and opportunity for the industry to get these messages across to the general public not just petrolheads, so that all motorists, including women drivers, have absolutely no doubt in their mind that

  • regular car maintenance keeps them, their family, other motorists and potentially pedestrians safe
  • annual car servicing doesn’t have to be expensive (depends on the mileage)
  • female friendly garages are best (see FOXY Choice)
  • members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club can claim free car fitness checks from participating female friendly garages and dealerships.

Surely it’s time for the industry to do something about all this, not just produce more me-too research, year in, year out?

One positive way forward would be for a leading insurer to offer cheap car insurance for women drivers (in this instance) who can prove they have maintained their car regularly by having it checked by a professional foxy approved and female friendly UK garage. I mention this because FOXY could organise this for them of course and our Car Fitness Checks are free. Cars would be safer, motorists would visit appointed garages more often and the best garages are likely to get her work and referrals.


Find out about other female friendly UK garages

Find out about motoring advice, a club helpdesk and special offers for foxy lady drivers

¹ = 2,245 UK adults, interviewed by YouGov for Ford Motor Company Limited, between 14-16 April 2010

Foxy Ford offers special Spring car discounts

Whilst Toyota is taking one day at a time to cope with major quality and image problems, Ford is quick to present its special Spring car discounts of up to £5,000 for new car sales including many sporty Zetec models – many of these offers are bound to attract women drivers and their families.

Surely this is Ford’s opportunity to move back into the Number One position – it’s a known brand, these are good deals and anyone selling a Toyota might be tempted to change brands as things stand…

The following prices are for new car orders confirmed by March 31, bought via a participating Ford dealer,  registered by June 30 and subject to taking out a Ford Options deal (which may be worth taking even if you don’t need the finance).  Other sales offers in 2010 still stand, subject to terms and conditions and similarly guaranteed to the end of June.

The underlying message from Ford is clear – tell us what you want and we’ll be flexible. More flexible in March because the scrappage scheme* has been extended until the 31st but still flexible until the end of June.

NEW FORD PRICES (guidelines at least)

Model Spring Value Price Ford List Price
Ka Studio £7,995 £9,395
Ka Zetec £9,295 £10,895
Fiesta Zetec £11,495 £13,580
Fusion Zetec £11,495 £14,295
Focus Zetec £13,495 £18,280
C-MAX Zetec £14,795 £18,432
Kuga Titanium £20,995 £23,540
Mondeo Zetec £16,995 £20,526
S-MAX Zetec £18,495 £22,466
Galaxy Zetec £21,495 £26,145

*The scrappage discount of £2,000 also applies to these prices other than the Ka where the additional scrappage discount is reduced to £700.

If you are looking for a female friendly Ford car dealership in Bracknell, Farnborough, Guildford or Wokingham visit FOXY Choice subscriber Inchcape Ford.

If you are looking for a female friendly Ford car dealership in Southampton visit FOXY Choice subscriber Hendy group.

If you are looking for a female friendly Ford car dealership in Cambridge visit FOXY Choice subscriber Marshall Ford.

If you are looking for a female friendly Ford car dealership in Scottish Border towns Peebles and Galashiels visit David Harrison.