Twins Diane and Jenny Gibbens are Female Business Ambassadors who work at franchised SEAT dealership Holders of Congresbury near Bristol.
Holders won the Unipart Car Care Centre Garage of the Year Award. As well as selling new SEATs of course they provide a wide range of car servicing, MOT, mechanical and bodywork repairs for all makes of cars.
FOXY Choice interviewed Diane and Jenny together and as you might expect from such long term employees (even though they don’t look it) they were able to cast an experienced eye over the Holder operation, from a loyal and female point of view.
Please start off by telling us about you – your background and experience.
Diane: I have worked at Holders for almost 20 years and I have spent most of that time in the Service and Parts Department although I did work in Sales for 7 years so I know that area of the business quite well too.
Jenny: I have worked at Holders for 23 years in the Service Department so you could say I know a great deal about car servicing, MOTs and car repairs. I can also see this from the customer’s side of things!
What is your job and what does this entail?
Diane: I am a Service Advisor; that means I advise customers about their choices and make bookings for car services. I arrange for the parts whenever repairs are needed and I get involved in warranty claims. I also stand in for the Parts Manager when he’s on holiday which is good experience to add to all this.
Jenny: I am a Service Advisor as well and enjoy helping customers when it’s time for their car servicing, MOT and any car repairs including bodywork.
What brought you both into the motor industry?
Diane: Jenny was working in the motor trade before me and it sounded such fun! I thought it was probably right for me too because I like helping people and I have always liked cars.
Jenny: I came into the industry in the first place because I have always loved cars and thought a career to do with them would be interesting and different. And I was right!
What makes this a good job for you both?
Diane: I enjoy working for a local company that is committed to getting service levels right for its customers. We all work hard and I’m part of a team that is proud of providing a friendly service for all our customers.
Jenny: It’s all about cars and looking after people for me! These are both things I really do enjoy. It’s also the opportunity for me to use my knowledge about cars to make the customer experience a more enjoyable one for male and female motorists alike.
What services does Holders offer that seem to appeal to busy women?
Diane and Jenny both agreed…: All women seem to be busy today so it’s often the special extras we offer that mean a lot. Friendly female faces perhaps? We certainly explain the work that’s needed in jargon free terms and then try to keep in touch with the customer whenever necessary. That certainly seems to help explain what needs doing and why.
Holders also offers MOT appointments that can be booked online. This means that women can book their car in when they are browsing the internet at night rather than struggle to find the time to call us during the day. That and offering loan cars whilst their car is being serviced or repaired. We can also come and collect & return cars in the local area which seems to be a very popular and time-saving option.
What advice would you give to young women keen to work in the motor industry?
Diane: I’d like to see more women give it a go. Most motorists are looking for good customer service and jargon free information and women are just as good as men at providing this.
Jenny: I think it’s important to recognise that it is still a fairly male dominated environment. You have to be prepared to work hard of course. To become a trusted team member you probably have to prove yourself to be open minded and have a sense of humour.
What advice would you give to garages wanting to recruit women (for the first time) in future?
Diane:I think you have to treat men and women equally; much as you would listen to your male staff, you should listen to what your female staff think and expect. You need to be able to give and take. I think a business with men and women working happily together in it really does feel and look different from a customer point of view, than one that’s all male. After all women drive cars as well as men and I think a lot of them like to see an equal number of women in a garage environment.
Jenny: Yes I agree. And women often have to juggle family responsibilities and childcare issues. As long as you can be flexible I am sure you’ll find that most females will appreciate your understanding and work even harder as a result!
The good thing about seeing women in garages, from a female customer point of view, is that you can feel relaxed about talking to a woman, knowing you don’t have to know all the jargon and you won’t be baffled when we reply!
That’s great advice Diane and Jenny and thank you for sharing your thoughts with FOXY Lady Drivers today!