Trust a woman to see it differently…

As you will know we here at Motor Trade Insider aim to make a difference and help the beleaguered motorist to get the experience they have a right to when dealing with all aspects of the motor trade. An interesting statistic revealed in research carried out by Shelias’ Wheels is that one in five of women questioned confessed to pulling out of buying a new car because of offensive comments made by a salesperson. This has the potential to result in a loss of sales to the trade totalling a massive £907 million a year! So we were delighted to read about the success of the FOXY Lady Drivers Club and the work that’s being done to make sure women get the respect they deserve in their dealings with the trade.

The idea of a club for women drivers helping them with everyday motoring matters like MOT’s, car servicing and repairs dawned on Steph Savill after her student daughter had a bad garage experience far from home’s reach. She had paid over the odds, felt patronised in the process and the car was not in good shape when she got it back. Talking about this afterwards Steph found that many of her female friends were either disinterested or totally baffled by mechanical matters, a few thought their car didn’t need much attention before its MOT and most were resigned to being treated as second class citizens in male dominated garages and dealerships.

Clearly things could be much better for women but how could she make a difference without industry clout, a big marketing budget or more female interest in the subject? Steph decided that a club was the right business model to achieve her aims and FOXY Lady Drivers Club opened for business in 2004, intending to help women run safer cars, reduce emissions, save money and enjoy female friendly garage services for a change.

“My daughter’s experience was the turning point because otherwise I would never have found out that the garage industry wasn’t licensed or that mechanics didn’t have to be qualified. When I realised that our daughter could have been involved in an accident or caused one for others simply because of the state of her car I couldn’t let things rest without trying to do something about this” explained Steph.

Sales progress was slow and benefits were few but an early feature in the Sunday Times and some exposure on Jeremy Vine’s BBCRadio 2 programme confirmed that Steph and FOXY were on the right track and that there was a definite demand for a trustworthy support network of this sort.

In 2008 FOXY has some 10,000 members and recruits through online partnerships with female associations, insurance providers and leading motor trade groups. A 12 month subscription costs £20 and includes free quarterly car checks worth £60; a free legal motor accident support package worth £25; MOT, car servicing and repair offers from FOXY approved garages; and a friendly support helpdesk when motoring gets stressful and very expensive. There’s a new family membership package and wholesale terms for trade partners too.

Inevitably some members join FOXY because of their concerns about reported industry standards but Steph prefers to look to the future than dwell on the past, believing that today’s industry is now well served by quality initiatives and needs to distance itself from businesses that aren’t up to scratch.

“Whilst it would have been easier for the motorist if the trade had united under one quality aftersales umbrella we can still celebrate the progress made by the IMI and their ATA training programme, BSI and their two excellent Kitemarks and the recent sign up to the SMMT’s Motor Industry Code en route to the OFT approved code for service and repair work.”

To keep motorists up to date with these and other signs of quality, FOXY has just launched a new website called FOXY Choice and is now recruiting leading garages and dealerships who want to promote their quality and female friendly credentials. The website opens to motorists in October and includes a FOXY Garage Guide, a female friendly FOXY Promise and the offer of support, should anything go wrong with any of the businesses listed.

Steph explains that FOXY Choice was an unexpected yet totally natural progression from the Club.
“We wanted to make sure that all motorists, not just our members, understood the subject better in future. Not just things like simple differences between garages and dealerships but also how to recognise hard-earned signs of quality and where serious investment has been made to improve the garage experience for everyone.”

“I’d like to think that our independent FOXY Choice website will go some small way towards reducing the number of complaints in the motor trade by matching the right motorists to the right garage solution and that leading garages and dealerships will support our female friendly FOXY Promise and join us to raise industry standards even higher.”

We wish them every success!

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