There are hundreds of car clubs throughout the UK, bringing passionate motorists together and giving them the opportunity to discuss their love for cars. All of them offer something different, from groups dedicated to specific makes and models to location-based clubs.
Today, we’re talking to the founder of a specialist group, the UK’s only car club dedicated to women drivers, helping members save time, money and reduce motoring stress.
Steph Savill formed FOXY Lady Drivers Club in 2004 and has operated the award-winning group ever since, helping countless women with their motoring enquiries and issues.
Hi Steph, thanks for agreeing to chat with us. Firstly, could you tell us about your introduction to cars and motoring?
I started driving as a budget-conscious student then had a company car for many years which was either sporty or family-oriented depending on circumstances at the time. I once had my favourite RS Turbo company car stolen from a car park in Wigan when I wasn’t supposed to be there. The police found it on bricks ready to be fired that evening and, for good reason at the time, I had to get this repaired, at considerable personal expense, without anyone knowing or making an insurance claim.
Could you tell us a little bit about the FOXY Lady Drivers Club, your successful motoring advice blog? What drew you to start the blog and what do you hope visitors will get from it?
FOXY Lady Drivers Club is the UK’s only motoring club for women. We’re a membership service and we help members run safer cars, saving them time, money and stress. As part of our marketing to women drivers, I write a public blog for women including tips, reviews and the latest motoring news. If blog readers then want to know more about motoring and enjoy member-only offers and VIP services they’ll join us online.
FOXY Lady Drivers Club is about helping women make the right decisions when it comes to motoring. In what areas do you think some motoring businesses fall short when it comes to dealing with female customers? And what are you asked most by the women who visit your blog looking for help?
Most women like the idea of preferential car insurance knowing that our scheme is reserved for club members (who can only be women) and so we don’t have to pay for expensive boy racer accidents. But mainly, I find that it’s the image of the industry that lets down the best businesses, so we try to help these businesses to market themselves as more female-friendly than the rest. For example, some recent and very damning research from Autotrader confirmed that 94% of their female sample didn’t trust car dealerships, 83% didn’t trust car manufacturers and 39% of women aged over 45 dread the car-buying process. Just imagine the impact of this when you know that some 80% of car sales and 65% of garage sales are either bought or influenced by women.
So, we help women identify their best and local female choices of garages and car dealers based on a formula of quality, value, cleanliness and customer welcome.
What one piece of advice would you give when it comes to buying and maintaining a car?
“If it’s cheap, there’ll be a good reason…” Sadly, this advice is needed because few motorists realise that many parts of the UK motor industry aren’t regulated and mechanics, for example, don’t have to be licensed to service, repair or sell cars. Buying a dodgy car or shoddy garage services by price alone isn’t like comparing insurance prices – a neglected car might look good on the outside but still be dangerous.
What do you enjoy most about running the FOXY Lady Drivers Club? And which project would you say you’ve had the most fun working on so far?
I’m a strategic marketer by profession, so I enjoy the planning and writing bit of my job best. The project I’ve enjoyed most has been working with garages during Tyre Safety Month to encourage women to get their tyres checked and then claim a gift membership of the club as a reward for them being legal. This was an all-round ‘win’ as drivers felt good because their cars were safe, partner garages could pick up legitimate tyre sales and an upturn in FOXY Club membership means we have better negotiating power for all members in future.
In what areas would you like to see greater regulation in the motoring industry? And how do you think motoring services, like garages, can improve how they interact with customers?
I could write a book here and maybe one day I will! As I see it, if you buy a cheap car that isn’t safe, because the sale of used cars isn’t regulated, you could be injured or worse. Similarly, if you pick a local garage for convenience not knowing whether their staff are licensed to do the job, you might be ripped off and your car left unsafe (as happened to my stepdaughter).
Clearly if you buy from a franchised dealer, you know that the ultimate manufacturer is underwriting their standards but when it’s an independent dealer or garage that isn’t a member of a Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), you’re on your own should things go wrong. Once more, it’s all to do with customer perceptions – if a female thinks she is going to get ripped off she is more likely to be overly assertive in her dealings with a garage or dealer and this can make it tricky for a caring business to get things right from the outset. But one important area that many garages can improve upon is to do with front-of-house cleanliness. Some customer toilets are too awful to contemplate.
Now for a slightly more light-hearted question: if you had to choose, what would be your favourite car to own and why?
I am not a petrolhead anymore, so I don’t get overly excited about fast cars despite being an avid motorsports follower. I drive a reliable Suzuki Vitara for practical reasons, but my husband likes Citroens and I’ve enjoyed driving his 2CV as much as his 1950s MG in the photo. However, if my favourite car were to come with a driver, this would have to be Daniel Craig as James Bond in the Aston Martin DB5.
What advice would you give to anyone looking for a garage in their local area? Are there any signs that can tell people that they’re dealing with a fair and responsible business?
I’d always recommend a garage that’s a member of a CCAS (Consumer Codes Approval Scheme). We look for this quality standard before we promote a garage as FOXY Lady Approved. They then have to sign our FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need’ and back this up with female feedback. You’d be surprised by the number of businesses that can’t sign our FOXY Promise because if a sales promotion means staff can earn from attractive commissions, some allow their staff to sell services their customer doesn’t need. Oddly we find that many men use FOXY Lady Approved garages too, because they realise that our standards are among the highest there are and for some reason disgruntled men often struggle to tell males in the motor industry that they don’t understand the jargon either!