Empowering women in the vehicle recovery industry

Monday, March 8, 2021 - 09:19
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Start Rescue is proud to work with independent recovery operators which are based throughout the UK and the majority of which are family run businesses.

recoveryA market leader when it comes to innovation, the team at Start Rescue actively promotes the important role women also have to play in providing vehicle recovery services and seek to break down any stereotypical views of the industry which aren’t necessarily correct.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we caught up with some of the ladies who have important roles within our company’s Recovery Operator network and find out what it is really like to work in our industry from a woman’s perspective.

The ladies who participated in our interview were:

Beki, Owner of MPW Recovery

Poppy, Control Room Office Manager at Roys Autos

Tracey, Director of Lionheart Garage

Brenda, Director of Liftondown Garage Ltd.

Ashleigh, Controller at Stortmill and LAR Recovery

Bella, Director of RTA Recovery and Garage Services Ltd.

How did you get into the Vehicle Recovery Operator industry?
My dad started the company when I was born, and I started working with him 21 years ago. – Becky

My husband and I started our own business, which has certainly been a career highlight! – Tracey

I married the late Fernley Pike who was a motor mechanic and later, service manager of a local dealership. In 1976 we started our own garage when he worked in an old Blacksmith’s Shop at Liftondown. In 1980 we managed to get planning permission and opened our purpose-built garage with an M.O.T. Testing Station in the back garden of our bungalow. Prior to the opening of our new premises, one of the larger breakdown companies used to bring cars to us for repair. Looking to the future, we later became an agent for other breakdown service providers carrying out attendance for breakdowns and recovery in the local area.

Our Son Michael joined the company, carried out an apprenticeship, obtained his City & Guilds Certificates, became an M.O.T. Tester and Breakdown/Recovery assistant. – Brenda

I had previous experience working for a taxi service and within logistics. I’ve always enjoyed the organisational aspect of working in the logistics industry, so when I saw the job advertised I immediately applied and 6 years later I’m still here! – Ashleigh

recovery

Tracey, Director of Lionheart Garage

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced to get where you are today?
Keeping up with all the legislations, obtaining and keeping loyal staff and giving good customer service. – Brenda

To get other regional Managers to accept they can talk to me, a female, instead of Andrew as often they assume, I am just a secretary who has no knowledge of the industry. – Bella

What do you like about working in the Vehicle Recovery industry?
I really enjoy the vast variety of work that we do. No day is ever the same. – Becky

Each day brings a different challenge, Tons of variety and always an opportunity to provide a practical helpful solution. – Poppy

There’s something different happening every day. – Tracey

 It is difficult to say.  I think it is something in your “bones”.  I just enjoy helping people who are broken down and getting them back on the road as quickly and stress-free as possible. – Brenda

What qualities do you feel are required to succeed in this industry?
Patience, perseverance and an ability to keep others around me calm. – Poppy

Dedication, being honest to our breakdown partners about the situations as they arise and giving the best service where physically possible. – Brenda

A passion for problem-solving and an analytical but creative mind. You never know what you’re walking into when you come on shift.

Ultimately the ability to put people at ease and feel confident that you’re going to get the job done. There’s nothing worse than being on the side of the road, in an emergency, on the phone to someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You need to be able to communicate and build trust in your customers and your colleagues. – Ashleigh

Determination ‘There is no such word as can’t, just can’t yet!’ Compromise and willingness to learn. I think this quote fits me: ‘Be a survivor, not a victim, believe in yourself and there will be nothing you can’t achieve.’ – Bella

What have been your career highlights?
Having been able to manage and implement new systems delivering training and support to the team. – Poppy

We are a small business and the fact, with the help of my son and good staff, we are still in business. – Brenda

We like visiting the companies we work for.  It puts faces to names, helps to achieve a good working relationship, it is wonderful to see the other side and hearing the breakdown calls coming in and how they are dealt with along with the training that is given. – Bella

Have you ever considered changing your career path?
I love my job and my aspirations involve staying within the industry I’ve evolved with. – Ashleigh

I have had several careers over the years from domestic banking before I had children, to training to work with children with special needs in a speech and language role. Both have helped me in my current role. – Bella

What does a general day at work involve for you?
Taking the jobs, answering the phone, dealing with staff and customers, going roadside for road traffic collisions when extra hands are needed, doing accounts, cleaning…. generally a bit of everything really! – Becky

Credit control is one of my main focuses, along with Invoices, booking and dispatching Jobs. Along with the background work of PAS43, NHSS17 and ISO 9001 compliance.  – Poppy

Getting to work early and having everything ready for the staff to start work on arrival and dealing with all duties as they arise. – Brenda

I mostly spend the day answering calls and talking to customers, accepting jobs and dispatching them to our team. Lots of liaising with business partners, customers and the drivers triaging calls to the right places. As the first point of contact, it’s important that I get the information I need as quickly and accurately as possible. – Ashleigh

Jack of all trades! But experience is making me master of some! – Bella

How do you feel about working in a male-dominated industry?
I really enjoy it, it’s never been an issue for me – Becky

It is a good challenge – along with lots of men to organise and to motivate to do what’s required to meet customer needs. – Poppy

I prefer it. It’s a really nice atmosphere to work in. – Tracey

I have never had any problems – Brenda

It doesn’t bother me as I work within a great team and on the whole, my colleagues treat me as they would anyone else.

As long as you have the respect of the people you work with and the customer on the other end of the phone, it shouldn’t matter what gender you are.

As a female non-driver, there have been times where male recovery drivers have doubted my advice, but I stood my ground and will always advise with the knowledge that I have accumulated from 6 years in the industry. I think it helps that I love my job and I think my passion comes across.

Being a confident and hard-working woman with great interpersonal skills and strong management behind me has allowed me to thrive. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved working in a male-dominated field. I’ve built up relationships with various clubs, with who we have a brilliant relationship. Now is as good a time as any to celebrate that. – Ashleigh

I feel proud to work in a male-dominated industry.  I’ve learnt so much.  I may not be able to do the manual labour of a man but I am and have proved that I am mentally equal. I think that sometimes women can be more meticulous. – Bella

What advice would you offer to other women looking to enter the automotive industry?
Just go for it, it’s a really varied and interesting career. I have 2 female recovery staff already! – Becky

Do it! You’ll never forget the experience. – Poppy

Go for it! – Tracey

To work hard, give good customer service to the best of your ability. – Brenda

Do it! It’s great fun working within the recovery industry, be it working for an independent recovery company as a controller or as a recovery driver within a VRO or an insurance company. Once you get the bug it can be incredibly rewarding.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to speak up and challenge if you feel you aren’t being listened to or taken seriously, you’ve got to have confidence in your own skills and experience.

With any job, my motto is always this: “I’m going to get in and I’m going to do the best job that I can and I will build my credibility from there.” Useful advice for anyone regardless of industry or gender. – Ashleigh

Never give up! Be prepared for everything. Be strong and absorb the knowledge you can gain.  I have spent many a long day accompanying Andrew in a truck travelling from job to job just to be able to spend some time together when we first started our business.  It also allowed me to see the other side! – Bella

What is your future ambition?
With the help of my Son to keep the garage going as long as is possible. – Brenda

My short term goals are quite modest, to continue to develop my skills as a controller and work towards an industry-based accreditation. But in the future, I’d like to expand my current role and look into training and inductions. That and world domination! – Ashleigh

To expand the company so I don’t have to wear so many hats! I’m getting older and it’s hard sometimes. Working 15 hours a day takes its toll at times, shorter hours would be good! – Bella

We would like to thank all the ladies for taking some precious time out of their busy schedules to give us a real insight into what a career within the vehicle recovery industry entails.

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