Steph Savill FIMI, a Marketing Consultant in the motor industry who also runs FOXY Lady Drivers Club, continues her series of articles to help you increase the amount of business you get from the female driver market.
In the last issue I wrote about the female business case and how to meet the motoring needs and expectations of women, by addressing unfavourable perceptions of this masculine-led industry.
This time I’m writing about my business experience, highlighting more ways that genuinely female-friendly garages can stand out as being better and different. Yes, price matters massively but, in an unregulated business sector where safety can be compromised, we should be selling value for money based on measurable quality standards, a warm welcome and transparent pricing, as a minimum.
THE FOXY BUSINESS MODEL
I set up FOXY Lady Drivers Club after my step-daughter had a bad garage experience. At that time I was horrified to learn that UK garages aren’t regulated regarding servicing and mechanical repair work. I wanted to up the quality bar for women to run (and buy) safer cars and chose a name that would be memorable – that’s FOXY – as in shrewd and canny.
In 2008 I had the opportunity to determine our own business standards for women. The first thing I did was to ask garages to sign the FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need’. This was more to reassure women who almost expected these things to happen to them but it was also to deter applications from garages and groups that incentivised poorly paid staff to sell products and services we didn’t need. What a shame some businesses still can’t sign our promise in 2018.
I then looked for evidence of measurable quality standards so I could sleep at night when I introduced garages and dealers to women. Top of my list was, and remains, the IMI Professional Register because of its commitment to the ongoing training of individuals and their ethical standards. Next, is the Chartered Trading Standards Institute Code of Practice service and repair schemes, operated by Bosch Car Service, The Motor Ombudsman and Trust My Garage. In addition, I like to see industry and community service awards as evidence of a proud business that is prepared to invest time and resource proving superior standards.
One thing should be a given for all motorists, regardless of the type of garage, we should be entitled to measurable quality workmanship, ethical standards and a genuine customer welcome, as a minimum.
EXAMPLES OF BEST PRACTICE
- An engineer in Philadelphia, called Patrice Banks, failed to find a local female mechanic so she became one and set up her own garage, called Girls Auto Clinic. Patrice has written a book, speaks at events and arranges regular ladies events. She has recently added a nail bar to the normal garage services.
- A garage in Oxfordshire, called Carterton Auto Repairs, offers MOTs and massages (to women and men) when booked in advance. Whilst this business faced considerable abuse on social media (from men and women confusing equality with customer choice), I predict this is the way that imaginative businesses will go in the future, offering auxiliary services to appeal to women and make a garage visit more enjoyable.
- We now see more and more garages offering DIY car maintenance classes and homemade cakes, in a warm, clean and welcoming environment and washrooms to rival those in hotels.
As part of its marketing services, FOXY helps garages grow their female fan clubs. Unsurprisingly, most women are too busy to want a relationship with a garage or repairer, yet they are comfortable being part of a membership organisation like ours that provides jargon-free advice, feedback and reviews as well as the chance to save money on insurance and motoring services.
In my experience, few garages can honestly say ‘You Can Trust Us’ as things stand. But, if that’s genuinely true of you and your garage, maybe 2018 is the year to promote your measurably better standards to female customers and potential staff alike?
Time and time again, research confirms that women want and expect higher standards than many garages are offering. Those businesses that are clearly better than the rest have a BIG opportunity to stand out in female minds as her local choice. So, if you’ve got the sort of quality credentials I’ve mentioned, be sure to shout about this loud and clear in your marketing. And make sure your staff know and understand why quality matters, compared to your lesser competitors.