An Interview with Louise Richardson of Motor Marque Garage in Leeds

An Interview with Louise Richardson of Motor Marque Garage in Leeds

About Motor Marque’s Motor Smart Women’s evenings

This interview was conducted in 2013 with Louise Richardson of Motor Marque garage in Leeds. Louise is their Female Business Ambassador and the garage is FOXY Lady Approved as female friendly.

When asked what her job title was, Louise explained that she was the equivalent of a Personal Assistant, Accounts and HR administrator as well as whatever else arose or came her way!

Please tell us about your background and the skills you need to have in your job.

I started my career in the fashion industry but I have been interested in cars since I was really young. I put that passion down to my Dad and growing up alongside his fanatical interest in all things car-related and motor sports!

What do you particularly like about working in the UK motor industry?

It’s true that this is mainly a male dominated industry but I like to buck the trend and be different!

And of course it was the pull of the cars and the fact that I enjoy working with people that made this the ideal mix… even if it is a long way removed from the fashion business I was used to!

Tell us about your Motor Smart Women evenings and what sort of females do they appeal to most?

Mark Frankland who owns the business developed the Motor Smart Women model back in 2006. It’s a free course we hold regularly for women and was always intended to do three important things.

* To help keep women safe on the road.

* To educate female drivers to know what to look for and so they are not ripped off

* To teach basic car care tips to help save people money and increase the reliability of their cars.

How do these evenings work ie what do they include?

Too few women enjoy visiting garages so we make these evenings as much fun as possible in an informal atmosphere.

We start by running through health and safety matters in the workshop because everybody needs to know what they can and can’t tackle and how to do this safely wherever they are.

After this our technicians run through the maintenance basics including checking oil, screen wash, tyre pressures and other car safety-related items.

We include light refreshments and drinks part way through the evening and on a big event we usually add a prize draw to win car related items.

Motor Smart Women attendees will usually go away with a goodie bag at the end as well including further car tips and advice as well as some sweets, an ice scraper, a tyre tread depth card, a key ring, a sachet of screen wash and anything else we feel is appropriate.

Are these evenings good for business?

Yes and no. Yes if you see this with a view to the future. The last time we held a course most of the ladies had never been to us before and we hope they learned some useful information about us and their cars and will come to us for MOTs, servicing and repairs. And tell their friends perhaps.

But if you look at this from a short term point of view alone others might dismiss their importance as they are time consuming and costly events to organise. For example, we usually spend weeks planning the evening and we don’t charge for anything on the night of course.

Needless to say these are really long days for our staff. None of us get home much before 10pm and when you started work at 8am and need to be back at work at that time the next day it can be a lot to expect from the team!

How can the UK motor industry set about attracting the best female students and graduates in future?

My experience is that the motor industry is unlikely to appeal to many women as it is.

I considered it as a career option despite the odds but I was never really encouraged to pursue it.

I am not sure if many schools or colleges offer female students the opportunity to take up vehicle maintenance classes but maybe they all should.

Most women will own a car at some stage in their life and even if they only learn the basics it’s helpful, especially with nobody close who can help. But if you’re geographically close to us in Leeds, you’d be alright of course; we like to think we get things right for men and women alike.

Thank you Louise. We share your enthusiasm for ladies evenings and always recommend that Club members attend these when they are organised in their area. After all there’s always something new to be learned or something timely that seems relevant at the time. And it’s good to feel free to speak as you find (in female company that is…) without needing to use the ‘traditional’ mechanical terms and jargon!!

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