Tag Archives: Professional Register

PK Automotive Solutions gets it right in Lincoln

I pride myself in sensing a naturally female friendly business when I walk into one. When this is part of a business compliance check (for FOXY Lady Approved garages or car dealers) there are a lot of clues to help me here. I’ll have had a look at their website in advance to look for details of their staff team, evidence of a commitment to quality standards, clean looking/functional customer facilities and an absence of unnecessary jargon.

I’ll have checked for membership of a Trading Standards Institute scheme, to see if there are licensed staff on the IMI’s Professional Register, evidence of other training courses/qualifications or local awards and any special customer services.

pk_exteriorI found all this and more at PK Automotive Solutions in Lincoln owned and run by Paul Killingsworth. Female staff, a smart business park environment (many garages are in off-putting industrial estates), modern premises, an enlightened and enthusiastic boss, time-saving tablet-based technology and a commitment to giving back to the motor industry.

The last bit is rare. Both PK Automotive and FOXY share an agenda for a licensed motor industry in future.

Our paths first crossed when I was doing some research about female apprentices. My client asked me to talk to a sample of young females including PK Automotive Solution’s Lois Lane. Since then PK has joined our FOXY Lady Approved garage network and is the only female friendly approved independent garage in Lincoln.

I met and interviewed Lois, an Apprentice Technician who is currently working towards her Level 2 in Light Vehicle Automotive Engineering. She is very keen and motivated and certainly well on the road to being a top technician. Watch this space.

Another two females can be found in the reception area of the business.

Rachel Henry is PK’s Administration Assistant (pictured behind the reception desk below) who was initially employed as an office apprentice but has since achieved her NVQ level 2 & 3 in Customer Service.

pk_receptionAmy Kent is the Office Manager who, after taking her initial apprenticeship, then took an advanced apprenticeship in Business Administration and NVQ levels 2 & 3. She has since completed her NVQ level 3 in Business Management.

And knowing this business’ hunger for knowledge and staying ahead of the rest, there will surely be more courses on offer for all who want and need them.

So I wasn’t at all surprised to see that PK Automotive has achieved the IMI Recognised Employer status and was recently presented with the plaque by Michelle Barrett from the IMI and the local MP for Lincoln, Karl McCartney. This scheme ensures that PK’s customers can have the confidence that their car is in safe hands, and that any technician working on their car has the skills, knowledge and expertise to be able to complete the job to the highest standard.


The photograph marks the occasion of PK Automotive being presented with the IMI Recognised Employer status. From left to right; John Forrest (PK), David Holloway (PK), Lois Lane (PK), Paul Killingsworth (PK), Elaine Killingsworth (PK), Karl McCartney (Conservative MP, Lincoln),  Michelle Barrett (Business Development Manager, IMI), Amy Kent (PK), Rachel Henry (PK).

As I mentioned earlier, PK Automotive Solutions and FOXY are each pro-actively backing the IMI campaign to introduce licensing in the automotive sector. This means, if this is successful, that only professionals with relevant and sufficient qualifications, expertise and skills  will be able to undertake repairs on vehicles in future, ensuring customers safety and guaranteeing their peace of mind.

Karl McCartney, MP for Lincoln, also supports the IMI’s move for the automotive sector to be more regulated.

“I was very pleased to present the IMI plaque to Paul Killingsworth of PK Automotive as a result of the team’s 100% attainment of the IMI Employer Recognition Scheme.

“I am a proud champion of consumer safety and customer satisfaction and can foresee that, with the advent of ever more technically complex vehicles, and eventually driver-less cars, it is of the utmost importance that customers can trust their lives to the work done in all garages, whether large or small, both now and in the future.”

We are proud to be working with and promoting PK Automotive Solutions to local women drivers as well as ‘leaning in’ to the licensing debate together. This is the only way forward for our industry to be seen as professional, so motorists receive the service levels they deserve with a view to their road safety and wallet.


What women think of car dealers

women expect moreThe female friendly business case is a simple one in the masculine motor industry. We expect higher standards than those that men seem resigned to and we want them NOW…

This matters because the number of women drivers will soon overtake men on UK roads and busy females are increasingly looking for service levels that recognise their needs and exceed their expectations. Sadly this is not happening in many cases today.

For the time being, female perceptions seem at an all time low when it comes to car shopping, as confirmed in a recent (2014) survey of c2600 women drivers carried out by Good Housekeeping. This revealed that:

+ The majority of women think car dealerships can be more female friendly

+ 70 per cent of women had experienced car salesmen ignoring them in favour of a male companion

+ the final car buying decision about a family is usually a joint gender decision for 53 per cent

+ 43 per cent of women made the car buying decision alone

+ 49 per cent find car sales staff patronising

+ 36 per cent felt vulnerable and lacked confidence visiting car dealerships

+ Some 25% felt that the tone used by car salesmen was disrespectful

+ Only 18 per cent of women felt that the car sales staff communicated all the details they required in language they understood

Clearly the only way is up for this industry which is why the genuinely female friendly car dealers need to join forces via us to get the message out that there is a female choice of used and new car dealers where this doesn’t happen.

Genuinely female friendly dealers that meet our standards can apply to become FOXY Lady Approved and together we will help restore female trust levels. But if any dealer joins us thinking we’ll simply turn on a tap of foxy ladies they’ll be mistaken because the business needs to meet our compliance standards ie demonstrate their female friendly dealer credentials before we can reassure local women about them.

Luckily for the good guys (yes they are usually male) we are a unique and highly professional marketing service, used to marketing to women (so that’s a good start) and together we can drive up standards by sharing feedback among the willing to learn (shameless sales plug over…).


It’s time the industry had a good look at itself, warts and all, as female customers see them. Here are a few clues…

+ We don’t want to haggle.

+ We don’t want to read about innocent car buyers being overcharged because they walk into a new car dealership at the wrong time of the month/year and pay a higher price than they might do otherwise.

+ We don’t want to be sold extras we don’t need.

+ We don’t want to read about cheap cars being sold without service histories or handbooks (when surprise, surprise they go wrong).

+ We’re fed up with ‘holier than thou’ promises re car warranties that offer less protection than the Sale of Goods Act.

And we want competitive financial products too…

What an industry! Let’s get some licensing safeguards in here as soon as possible.

Time for MotorCodes to look at the New Car Code of Practice; to make licensing compulsory for car sales staff as per the IMI’s Professional Register; to up the minimum used car sales/warranty standards to meet fussy female needs (and delight fed up beleaguered male motorists in the process).

Getting service levels right for women means upping standards for all in this industry. The time is right for doing this and I want to be involved in creating the more female friendly motor industry that women clearly want and deserve.

Rant over for now…


FOXY’s Female Motoring Manifesto for 2015

everyoneshouldtrytodobetterIn 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.