Tag Archives: franchised car dealerships

Honda Alice is a welcome difference

Alice and her father Paul Brayley

Brayley Honda car dealership in Hemel Hempstead clearly values the female purse and is doing something about this with a workforce comprising 30% who are women.

Now you might think (like me) that a ratio of 70:30 is still overly male skewed when c80% of all household purchases are made by women but this is the retail motor industry where, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission, women account for less than 10% of the UK workforce. That’s a shocking statistic with so many customer facing roles ideal for  women like Alice, in the photo.

23-year-old Alice Brayley has turned her back on a career in teaching to join her father’s franchised dealership Honda Brayley in Hemel Hempstead. Despite a degree in sociology she chose to join the motor trade following in father’s footsteps. Starting as a sales administrator Alice hopes to move into a management role soon, given the opportunity, once she completes the manufacturer’s management development programme at the Honda Institute in Slough.

The reasons that many women don’t rush to get jobs in the retail motor industry like Alice or to do business with the motor industry as customers aren’t at all complicated. When it comes to buying cars and garage services too many of us are wary shoppers, intimidated by the ‘too blokey’ atmosphere in workshops and showrooms. So imagine what it’s like for young female staff who don’t have Alice’s family business advantages…

As customers, many females worry about being overcharged, patronised and sold things we don’t need. So much so we often feel distinctly ill at ease, take a man with us for support and would prefer to go almost anywhere else. And so we do.

Yet the business case for being a female friendly garage or showroom in her mind is all to do with competitive advantage and word of mouth. Get it right for women and we’ll come more often and tell our friends. This is even more important for businesses selling fleet cars, apparently, where according to the latest RAC Report on Motoring, eight out of ten company cars are chosen by a female. Surely female staff like Alice are better placed than many men to understand what women want and to appreciate why we should get it?

Oh that more manufacturers, dealership and garage groups would recognise the need to achieve a 50:50 gender balance at the very top of their business. The problem is that too few talented females are determined to fight their way to the top in an industry when there are more female friendly industries for us to enjoy and succeed in.

What is needed in virtually all cases is an industry commitment first and foremost and then an individual Board willingness to make the retail motor industry a genuinely more female friendly one. Starting with female Directors including NEDs bringing functional expertise rather than motor industry thinking which is often inclined towards the status quo. And then to make the same progress at senior and then junior management levels.

Until a genuinely female friendly company culture can be seen and felt throughout the retail motor industry, there seems little point encouraging and feeding new female talent in through the front door when they then come up against the same old male dominated status quo and first floor ceiling…


Find out which garages and dealerships are marketing to women by subscribing to FOXY Choice‘s female friendly garage marketing services near you.

Testing Tesco Times

On behalf of women drivers I welcome Tesco’s entry into the car sales market because they cannot afford to get this wrong  and they know what we want. This gives them a distinct edge over many dealerships.

But if Tesco does get it wrong they will pay the price. Let’s not forget, this is the much complained about motor industry where used car quality can be a hit and miss affair and customer service is all too often an oxymoron.

To perform to Tesco standards, we can expect a tight contract to cover industry ethics as well as customer service, sales performance and commission levels. They want to sell Tesco car insurance and finance products too. So all cars must be HPI checked (easy) and inspected (RAC, sounds trustworthy) and costed competitively. All this needs to be 100% watertight because their stock of used cars includes fleet cars, ex rentals and Motability car returns which may or may not have been well cared for during their pre MOT years.

Fortunately they are leaving a big gap in the market by not offering a part exchange service; providing those that fill it don’t do what webuyanycar.com did by quoting a price online and then dropping this significantly when they came to collect the car.

And it’s relevant that Tesco’s cars are in Birmingham which means that you can’t always ‘see before you buy.’

The good news is that this is surely the time for car dealers to up their game with women in mind; it’s us that influence c80% of all car buying decisions and local dealers have the advantage here of being local and knowing cars.

My point is that because Tesco is a female friendly brand, I’d expect more dealership groups to think long and hard about their ‘marketing to women’ strategy.

Wake up guys. Selling cars isn’t the only way to sell cars…

Sell her female friendly garage services for starters, know what she wants, spoil her, prove she can trust you and she’ll look to you for advice when she’s next car shopping.

Why is this so hard for so many male dominated and car-sales-oriented franchised dealerships to understand?


Women wanting independent advice and support services when buying a new car can join FOXY Lady Drivers Club.

Empty female friendly promises

FOXY listed female friendly business
A FOXY listed female friendly business

It’s all too easy to write ‘we are a female friendly garage’ at a website yet not have an inkling what this entails.  Very often businesses think equality means treating men and women the same and perhaps some garages think the FOXY initiative is a feminist thing; but just in case it might bring them new business, they say they are female friendly without giving this any thought.

Whereas the truth is that being female friendly is a BIG BUSINESS ISSUE because women are the gender spenders when it comes to buying cars and garage services like MOTs, car servicing and repairs. And because UK garages aren’t regulated and few mechanics are accredited so complaint levels are too high and service levels are too low…

Which is why we find that genuinely female friendly businesses are usually the best ones out there.

Most women think that the male dominated motor industry is in need of a female friendly makeover – making it a better place for women drivers AND men too. The business case is simple; those that get it right for fussy foxy females will reap considerable commercial gain over complacent other garages who think that their motor industry standards are good enough.

Sadly few businesses that say they are female friendly but haven’t joined FOXY’s network yet show measurable signs of workmanship quality, superior customer services or investment in facilities and amenities to make garage services shopping a more enjoyable experience for women in future. Which is what FOXY is all about, of course.

Just for the record, what FOXY does is different as follows…
1    Garage subscribers sign the FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need or want.’
2    We actively help women to understand their choices with an independent and unbiased FOXY Good Garage Guide.
3    We create a female friendly website page to supplement and complement and existing website entries; this is ideal to measure responses to marketing campaigns for example.
4    We cater more for females by identifying and focusing on quality standards, caring customer services and superior facilities that we know women want. We also reveal which garages and dealerships are near shops, have clean washrooms, employ women and welcome children.
5    We actively promote these businesses to women; online and via the Club.
6    FOXY Lady Drivers Club keeps in touch with members via email AND encourage feedback. We also invite this via the FOXY Choice website.
7    Finally, if a member has a serious problem at a garage, car dealer or main franchised dealership we’ll help her sort it out through our informal mediation. We haven’t needed to get the knuckledusters out in some 2 years so our approach does work and we reserve the ultimate weapon ‘we’ll tell local ladies within the Club’ or ‘we’ll remove you from the FOXY Choice register.’

But we can’t do any of this if you are dealing with a garage that says it’s female friendly but hasn’t signed the FOXY Promise. There is no alternative…


PS: In case I am being unfair about a genuinely female friendly garage that doesn’t know about FOXY Choice yet, please tell them and hopefully they’ll add their support to ours. We are all about focusing on industry quality for the good of ALL motorists by adopting independent foxy benchmark standards as in female, fussy and feisty. And because too few garages are good enough as recent Which? and BBC Watchdog consumer exercises confirm.

What is a garage?

Is a garage a one man band, a family-owned SME, one that’s part of a national or regional franchised network, a fast-fit centre like National Tyres or a franchised new car dealership appointed by the main car manufacturers.

Taking a straw poll at a local women’s business meeting last night I learned that a garage may be many things 😉  to female motorists but it is not considered to be a main car dealership in many women’s minds because….

  1. Women drivers that were shopping for good garage services, driving an ‘older’ car perhaps, suspected that they’d pay over the odds for a service/repair in a car dealership and perceived that garages delivered better value (for them..)
  2. Many female motorists thought that a franchised car dealership could only service or repair the make of car they advertised and sold
  3. Those women that wanted to go to a franchised dealership often considered that this was better than risking a ‘dodgy’ garage and were prepared to pay a premium to get [what they saw as] superior service levels.

Needless to say few knew they had a choice and how to find out where the really good and female friendly garages (and dealerships) were so I was able to introduce the female friendly  FOXY Promise and our garage services guide as well as FOXY Lady Drivers Club to good effect!