After 16 years doing this job I retire from Foxy on 31 December 2020.
It’s been an all encompassing passion of mine and I leave the automotive industry in a much better state than I found it. I claim no responsibility for this of course – society has had to become more diverse and female friendly aware so the macho motor industry has simply been swept along and inflenced by this wave.
My successor is Francesca Pipistrelli who takes up the Foxy reins from 1 January 2021. I first met Francesca when I attended her Auto Excellence Awards dinner in 2019. And I had expected to see her again at the 2020 awards too. Clearly that didn’t happen for obvious reasons but I hope it will in 2021.
So I was delighted when Francesca expressed an interest in finding out more about the Foxy business and our operation. Were I to pick someone to follow in my footsteps I’d have hoped it would be someone who had a love of the industry, knew its many strengths and weaknesses and could judge a good garage or car dealer from a mediocre one – usually based on their genuine commitment and investment in measurable quality standards. I certainly wanted to pass Foxy on to someone who saw the business’ future potentia and was keen to work hard to get there.
So, from a Foxy point of view, 2021 means it’s off with the old (me) and on with the new (Francesca).
Foxy Lady Drivers Club in 2021
Francesca has confirmed that she plans to retain the operation of the drivers club as a limited by guarantee ie not for profit business. And that the Foxy Lady Approved trade business will operate separately and fund the club workings. I always saw this is a kind of business karma – if women were happy with service levels in the motor industry in the first place there would be no need for the Foxy motoring support club. But as most of us know, female perceptions, right or wrong, remain unimpressed in the majority of garages and car dealers by and large. And those businesses that really, really understand the female business case deserve promoting this to women drivers with an independent badge that shows them off as better than the rest, with women in mind.
In 2020 many garages and car dealers carry the Foxy Lady Approved badge as a sign of differentiation and distinction yet too many business owners still think its good enough for them to treat male and female customers the same. I’d agree with that sentiment if their standards were established with women in mind so men could enjoy superior customer service too. But the reality is that standards rarely are set with fussy females in mind.
In fact, too many garages and car dealers promote industry logos/membership of trade schemes in their business, advertising and at their websites when these logos mean nothing to most females – and yet women are increasingly the dominant shopping gender when it comes to cars and garage services. What these businesses need is an eye-catching badge representing a truly independent female standard to reassure wary local women drivers – who can then carry on the promotional job for them with their family and friends of course.
Post COVID-19 I am confident that a lot of these businesses will have had plenty of time to think through their marketing and the female business case. Otherwise they will lose out to the others that already go that extra mile for women, including demonstrating this in all aspects of their online marketing. In which case please support Francesca now, via the Foxy Choice website, in the New Year.
Finally I must say I have really enjoyed my automotive days. I’d like to thank the many club members I know and have met alongside the many excellent businesses, suppliers and Foxy Lady Approved trade subscribers, that have identified with Foxy standards and supported me through the early Foxy years. I also had the pleasure of meeting Theo Paphitis and working with Mary Portas on an episode of her Secret Shopper TV series.
To read more about Steph Savill’s business achievements, you can see her interviewed at the Inspiring e-zine Webcast arranged by the Automotive 30% Club in November 2020.