Tag Archives: Steph Savill

Calling all road smart women drivers


Women drivers come in all shapes and sizes including petrolheads, the mechanically savvy, those that are happy to delegate motoring matters to the man in their lives and those whose car is the workhorse that they couldn’t do without in their busy family lives, and which needs regular professional care and attention to keep it safe.

In all cases, the common denominator is the driver, and we’d suggest that females are generally a lot more honest than men about any concerns about motoring concentration or confidence levels.

To address these areas and more, the newly branded IAM RoadSmart (previously the Institute of Advanced Motorists/IAM) has conducted research suggesting that as many as 40% of mums and grandmothers would like to become more confident when driving to unfamiliar places.

And whilst on-road training continues to be important for occupational drivers it seems that many busy motorists, including women, would prefer online courses because they take less than two hours to complete.

IAM Roadsmart research

IAM Roadsmart research highlights a number of important common-sense findings. Not just that drivers’ biggest concern is actually other drivers but also that reducing the cost of motoring and insurance (as a result of driver training) is a highly powerful motivation for younger motorists.

So these are the key areas that IAM RoadSmart is now addressing for motorists and motorbike riders alike.

IAM RoadSmart CEO, Sarah Sillars OBE said

“The most important thing for the majority of drivers and riders is getting from A to B with as little hassle as possible. The daily commute, travelling to a business meeting, or the drive to the shops, can be made so much more enjoyable with just a bit more awareness of the challenges on the road ahead. This is where IAM RoadSmart comes in.

We’ve been around for 60 years now and in that time roads, vehicles and distractions have changed, in some cases, beyond all recognition. The advanced driving and riding tests will remain core to what we do and will continue to be seen as the ultimate achievement, but if you just want to get more confident driving in bad weather for instance, we can help with that too.

We’ve helped create nearly half a million better drivers and riders already and as we become recognised as IAM RoadSmart we hope to be able to help many more.”

FOXY Steph Savill added her congratulations and appreciation of the philosophy behind the new IAM Roadsmart brand.

“I learned a huge amount taking my IAM advanced driving test. As a result, we promote this programme to FOXY Lady Drivers Club members who receive a discount on their Skill For Life programme. We now look forward to promoting their new online and confidence courses to women.

Whilst it’s not just women who have had road accidents that have shaken their confidence, we do know of many who choose to drive the long way round on A and B roads to avoid motorway travel, regardless of the statistical evidence that more accidents occur on country roads. So anything IAM RoadSmart can do to help women regain their lost confidence and become better drivers into the bargain has our support.”

For More Information:


To find out more about the new IAM Roadsmart website.

Why not join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to enjoy motoring savings, FOXY Lady Approved businesses and support services that complement IAM RoadSmart driver training options.

Female Executive Directors Preferred

boardroom heelsWhen it comes to organisational health, judged by financial and efficiency metrics, the more women at the top, the better the financial returns says McKinsey & Company.

Put another way, it’s not just what you say and do but how well you do it.

Yes a male CEO can justifiably say ‘we want to employ more female car sales staff’ but the reason there are so few might be because the business isn’t perceived to be a female friendly employer from the Boardroom down.

Certainly that’s true of the UK motor industry, which is the big picture in too many female minds – and I’m talking about women in a broad context; seen as Board member recruits, staff AND customers.

So whilst it’s encouraging to hear that Lord Davies is being listened to in UK Boardrooms we’re a long way short of making the impact we need to en route to a new target of 33% of women board members at FTSE 350 firms by 2020.

That’s too far away and well short of the 50% I want to see in my working lifetime.

The Executive Gender Elastoplast

All too often however, a female Non Executive Director (NED) is the ‘tick the box must have’ Elastoplast solution. This is because an unconvinced CEO can turn to an executive recruitment agency, say ‘we need one or more female NEDs’ and they’ll supply them. This is when a CEO can also think (to himself) – ‘if she doesn’t work out/fit in, we’ve only got her for three years then I can line up another one.’

Now I’m making a female NED appointment sound easy but I’m assuming NEDs, regardless of gender, with the requisite corporate skills, such as HR, governance, legal or secretarial. Fortunately there are plenty of serial NEDs (male and female) who offer such skills and whilst they might be experts at reading Board Minutes and Balance Sheets they are not the best judges of the culture of a business. That can only truly be felt from working on a full time basis within it. And for some time within it, to hear and be trusted with honest staff opinion.

So my point here is that whilst female NEDs will tick the diversity box (and are to be welcomed in the absence of others at the top) they are not as valuable, as I see it, as Executive Directors. Female Executive Directors need to be sponsored and groomed from within, then given a mandate to change a business from a mainly masculine to a female friendly employer (where appropriate – I am writing with the motor industry in mind).

Corporate nirvana, as I see it, is when a female takes a strategic position within the Board, usually as CEO. This is when a female business leader steers a naturally female friendly business using her personal perspective and experience, influencing all aspects of the business whilst accurately predicting and addressing women’s needs and expectations.

Of course many male-led businesses do this already, such as fashion and beauty businesses where the Boards are often full of female, but businesses in my industry, the UK motor industry, seem woefully slow to understand why they might need ANY let alone MORE female Directors.

So here are some good reasons guys – and you really need female Executive Directors to transform overly masculine cultures from within.

More female Executive Board Members needed

Female Board Directors are needed in the UK motor industry because…

+ They are missing from most motor industry Boardrooms
+ They show aspiring female employees a career path
+ They act as role models for ambitious graduate/apprentice recruits
+ Women are half the executive talent out there (but need encouraging to apply)
+ They represent the gender that influences the majority of purchases (80% of cars/aftersales)
+ Women bring consensus and a more collaborative style of working
+ Women add ethical and environmental values (that may well have made a REAL difference in VW’s 100% male Boardroom)

windscreenviewSome time ago, working in a consultant capacity, in my own right, I set out to measure the UK automotive industry in terms of the numbers of female Board members and executive positions.

My intention was not to name and shame but to publish a useful benchmark to influence behaviour and raise gender matters in this area.

Sadly I was unable to obtain the Board composition details I needed re: automotive manufacturers and/or dealership groups operating in the UK so I look forward to this previously ‘secret’ information becoming public when we can all see gender composition re Executive and NED Board appointments in this industry.

Needless to say, if our FTSE goals are now to achieve 35% women on Boards by 2020, it’d be a lot quicker to simply introduce female quotas. Which is my preferred strategy now Lord Davies – one I never thought I’d EVER support but do now after waiting for too long for gender and diversity to reach the top of big businesses in the automotive industry.



Steph Savill Limited

When the garage inspector calls…

Foxy -under-car-blue-125Did you know I am also a garage inspector in that I visit garages and dealerships as part of my job?

Any that join the FOXY Lady Approved network expect to be visited as part of our compliance scheme. For as long as I can do this myself I like to visit as many personally to make sure they meet my standards, before handing over to others for future visits.

Among other things, I am looking for signs of measurable quality, value for money (not the cheapest, more the best value), cleanliness and customer service. You need to visit a business and ‘feel’ their culture – I say I can tell just walking through the door…

Some businesses want to be seen as female friendly and perhaps they are, but their location lets them down. It’s rare for garages to be in shopping areas but that’s really where we want them to be so we can catch up essentials whilst the car is MOT’d, serviced or repaired.

When I find myself in a dreary industrial estate I have to judge whether this is likely to be a good place for women to visit on a dark wintery day when the location is likely to look even more depressing.

Another bad start is when I drive into a forecourt and there is no parking space or I am expected to reverse out of a tight spot, with staff watching. Signage can also often be improved upon and surely customer parking should take precedence over unattractive cars for sale?

Then of course I’ll assess the garage amenities inside, but a less than favourable start has been made to any customer visit.

Garage cleanliness

An important area that many garages neglect is cleanliness. I can see at a glance if a workshop is clean, neat and tidy by the state of the floor, the state of the overalls the staff wear, whether they wear gloves, have tool cabinets and such like. Whilst this isn’t part of my typical FOXY checklist it always sets the cultural scene for what I expect to find in the customer reception area. As I see it, if a workshop is dirty and disorganised it is likely that this disregard will translate into customer areas.

Having seen immaculate garages, bodyshops and dealerships with gleaming customer facilities I know it can de done. In my book there is no excuse for a grubby waiting room – just a poor cleanliness regime. For example, try the finger test for yourself. Wipe it over the desk counter or any coffee tables in the waiting room. Then check your finger. Could you live with that at home? Should you have to as a paying customer? If it doesn’t matter to you, that’s fine of course.

I’m often told ‘we clean on a Friday’ as if a Thursday customer (or when I call on a different day) will feel any better for knowing this. Business cleanliness needs to be ongoing, not just a weekly chore.

Reading materials are interesting too. If a business is female friendly and women are likely to have to wait for their car to be ready or paperwork completed then it’s a nice touch I feel. I’m not sure if it’s better to provide aspirational-related magazines such as Superstar Homes or Celebrity Holidays (imaginary titles both) but I’d prefer to see these than magazines full of gossip about soap stars I don’t know. But that’s just me. So I realise it can be tricky to get the reading choice right for women but I like to see garages try.

I am often told “we used to get x title but women went off with it…” so I always suggest they provide colour supplements from a recent quality weekend publication. There’s no excuse then.

Needless to say, men are always catered for in this area assuming they want to read about performance cars, motor sports or mechanical/trade matters.

Washrooms ie customer toilets are the ultimate barometer of cleanliness for me. Why some garages feel the need to list one as a customer facility when the mechanics use it as well remains a mystery. Nothing can be more off-putting than the loo seat lifted revealing a stained bowl and just as bad, oily marks on bar soap at the sink and a dirty looking towel for afters.

pinklooThis pink toilet inspection was one of the most memorable for me. The garage owner had asked his staff to walk the extra two yards down the corridor to use the male facilities, urinals and so on, without success. So one weekend he painted the ladies in shocking pink and the mechanics have never used it since. That’s all it took, it’s a bit startling I know but it’s proof of the pride the owner takes in the facilities he provides.

Some men don’t see this need for cleanliness, despite most of them thinking their garage is a female friendly one. If it’s a garage on our network I simply remove this so-called amenity from their listing but wonder what possessed them to think women would want to use this?

As a customer, I’d mark their card as a dirty business (in my mind) and never return.

And if you think these comments are simply about back street garages, think again. Some of the smartest and cleanest facilities have been in small and family run garages whereas some of the scruffiest and unkempt ones have been in dealerships. Where I’ve found lewd calendars too, by the way. So you can’t be sure of getting better facilities by paying more.

As I always say, if a garage has facilities that are better than the rest and they pay everyday attention to maintaining a spick and span workshop and customer area, they should be shouting about this to women because we all know that other varieties exist.

In my experience, women will choose the female friendly garage variety as soon as they realise they have a choice in their area.

That includes females who jump ship after putting up with second rate services for too long, once they discover that things can be better elsewhere. So comments from garages such as ‘we treat all customers the same’ don’t resonate with me. This level of complacency is either a lazy excuse for not trying harder for women or a missed opportunity for not marketing to women as ‘better than the rest’ which is what most of us expect to be treated as.


Savvy Woman interviews FOXY

Savvy woman interves FOXYLast Saturday I was interviewed by the Savvy Woman, Sarah Pennells as part of her excellent ‘Women and Money’ radio programme on Share Radio.

The programme involved expert author Maria McCarthy and Charlotte Halkett from leading telematics insurer ‘Insure The Box’ whose brands include ‘Drive Like A Girl’.

Sarah was exploring the fact that women are increasingly wealthy customers in the motor industry yet it still seems to be a blokey environment when it comes to buying cars and going to garages.

A topic after my own heart!

But rather than rewrite an interesting conversation here, here’s the link and I hope you enjoy this discussion.

If you’d like to add to the debate, especially to do with preferential insurance for safer women drivers, please do so via Twitter.

My personal account is @FOXYSteph and the business one is @FOXYTweets.


First to offer FOXY employee benefit scheme

Safe and Sound is the first employer to sign up to FOXY Lady Drivers Club’s employee benefit scheme, designed to help reduce staff stress levels to do with all aspects of their everyday motoring.

Every female member of staff has been given a free membership of the Club by Buckinghamshire-based WMS Group who owns Safe and Sound, and all male colleagues are encouraged to nominate a foxy lady to receive their staff benefit.

“FOXY is becoming the female voice of motoring in the UK because someone needs to speak up for our gender on occasion” says founder and MD Steph Savill. “For example, too many female motorists have found themselves ripped off, patronised or sold something they didn’t need, either in garages or car showrooms. I’m deeply encouraged to see Safe and Sound come on board with the FOXY ethos as well as supporting their female team members in such a caring way.”

What Women Want

Safe and Sound was developed in 2010 after WMS Group conducted extensive research into consumer behaviour which revealed that all buyers wanted reassurance that their car was road legal, safe to drive, didn’t have a hidden past and was being sold at a fair price.

It was also clear that many women had the final say on the car purchase and yet they were more likely than men to struggle to find a dealership they could trust not to sell them a dud.

So Safe and Sound has become a transparent programme which addresses these buyer concerns and promotes good businesses, much as FOXY is doing in its own way.

Staff benefit scheme

Our staff are delighted to have received their FOXY Lady Drivers Club membership,” says Steph Colinswood, Safe and Sound’s marketing manager “as many of them know little about cars.”

“Having access to the Club reassures them that they’re equipped with the knowledge and empowerment that comes with this level of motoring support. As a female-friendly employer we also believe lifetime Club membership for only £23 represents terrific value for money, especially as it doesn’t just cover the member but also her entire household.”

“By working with FOXY, we’re helping to spread their message and look forward to funding memberships for many more female employees in the future as WMS Group continues to expand. As a not-for-profit organisation, FOXY is unbiased and honest, and like us they’re passionate about the motor industry and making a stand for female equality. We’ll do all we can to help FOXY promote their fantastic business and are excited to be working with them.”

Coincidentally, last week WMS Group welcomed its first female account manager, responsible for seeking new dealerships to work with in this traditionally male-dominated industry.

To find your nearest Safe and Sound dealership, visit www.SafeandSound.co.uk.

If you are a business interested in joining the Safe and Sound network, see www.SafeandSound.co.uk/dealers.

To find out about FOXY Choice’s female friendly garage network, visit www.foxychoice.com