When we first met Bullseye Car Parts online we realised that car parts and accessories was a critical area of the UK motor industry that we’d yet to feature here. So we asked Becky Morris Knight to tell us about this family business and how it seems to be bucking the gender trend.
1. Tell us about your retail business Becky and the products you sell.
My family’s business is Bullseye Super Factors, a car parts & accessories retailer, established by my father in 1981 when he opened a single shop in South Yorkshire.
We now have 16 shops across the area which sell to the general public and we also deliver direct to garages, mechanics, dealerships and other members of the motor trade. We recently also added an online shop to our business.
2. We liked the look of your website – what makes it different from others we wondered?
Our website is designed to be friendly and easy to use, so that even if you don’t have much technical knowledge you can buy car parts on there just by entering your registration. Plus we offer a technical helpline for anyone who needs advice.
We answer lots of different questions on there – big and small, from the technical info needed to choose the correct brake pads through to recommendations for the best type of car polish.
Our policy is that no question is a silly question – we’ve all had to ask them at one time or another!
3. Knowing the recent growth in the number of women owning cars, are more women interested in car maintenance or are there simply more of us shopping for car accessories than before?
We find that in both our online and our bricks & mortar business that more and more women are interested in caring for their car.
It used to be more the case that if we were helping a female customer in one of our shops then she would have a list of things her partner or father had sent her in to purchase.
Nowadays we see many more women who are interested in fitting their own parts, doing basic repairs and really keeping their car in great condition.
It might surprise some people to hear that our customers are probably a pretty even 50/50 split overall.
4. Being a Yorkshire-based business in the motor industry we might have expected you to be a mainly masculine employer (!!) but that doesn’t seem to be the case…
We do have a lot of male staff, but we also have a high number of female employees and this has been the case for many years. We have women in senior management roles, women employed driving our delivery vans and also in our sales team, on the shop floor and in our office and warehouse.
Since I joined the board of directors there are no areas of the business which are ‘men only’ and this is something we’re really proud of.
5. How do you advertise jobs to attract females as well as men? Do you find that certain staff benefits are appreciated more by women than men?
Generally we don’t try to attract either women or men, we just try to attract the best talented people with a really positive attitude.
For us that’s the most important thing. However, we definitely do find that certain job roles are attractive to women because of the benefits offered.
For example, driving a van can offer flexibility in hours which means that you can avoid having to pay for expensive childcare.
We always try to be as flexible as possible with our team, while ensuring that it doesn’t harm our customer service levels, because we believe a happy team is good for business!
6. What are the business benefits of a gender diverse workforce?
The business benefits of a gender diverse workforce are huge and shouldn’t be under-estimated. For example, in the early days when the whole motor industry was more masculine overall, my father employed women in a customer-facing role in his shops which made them less intimidating to female customers.
We know from experience that having a diverse workforce with people from different backgrounds, men and women, helps to keep things balanced, brings in new perspectives and points of view and makes sure that your business doesn’t just appeal to one part of the population!
7. What advice would you give other companies in the motor industry who might be considering employing women in an entirely male business or department.
If you are employing women in an all-male department then there are lots of things you need to think through. Firstly, the basics such as offering equal pay for equal job roles and whether you need a female-only, or female-friendly, washroom they can use and so on. Secondly, think about the culture of your workplace. If you are employing one person who is different from the rest of the team how difficult will they find it? How can you support them without making them feel different?
Having joined an all male management board where I was also at least 10 years younger than all the other members I can say first hand that it isn’t always easy. Even little things like the style of debate – and how heated they can get – CAN make things tough. Luckily we have a pretty good team so it wasn’t TOO hard for me!
I would also say don’t be afraid to take some professional advice, especially if you don’t have a dedicated HR person or anyone on your team with HR training.