Meet the female white van drivers

This fleet of female van drivers is bucking the stereotypes.

One in every 10 new vehicles registered with the DVLA between July and September 2016 was a van, and they now account for one-fifth of traffic on the road. Before you make any assumptions about who’s in the driving seat, meet some of the female removal and delivery firms bucking the ‘white van man’ stereotypes.

Wo-van

Jennifer Lyons is used to men offering to park her van or help her lift heavy furniture. Even female customers sometimes warn her that there are ‘a lot of heavy boxes’. But, having run Wo-van – a woman and van service – for five years, she just laughs it off. And she always proves the doubters wrong.

‘I haven’t yet found anything I can’t lift,’ says Jennifer, who operates mostly as a one-woman band, occasionally bringing in other workers to help with removals in the UK and Europe. ‘I’m naturally very strong. But there’s a huge lack of understanding that women can lift as much as men.’

Wo-Van

The idea for the company came when Jennifer moved to France from the UK and could only find ‘man and van’ services. ‘It dawned on me that there was a big gap in the market,’ she says. ‘When I speak to clients, there’s a preconception that a woman will take more care and be more thorough. It sounds clichéd, but that’s what I tend to hear.

‘Some of my customers are women who’ve just lost their husbands or been through a break-up, and perhaps they feel a woman will be more sensitive to their situation. Maybe the thought of having strange men traipsing around their home is too much for some.

‘There is absolutely a need for female-only services like mine. People should have a choice.’

Pink Removals

Pink Removals

Part of All Moves UK based in Nottingham, Pink Removals employs two female drivers, Cheryl and Kellie, who are sent out on jobs when women are specifically asked for. ‘Some people just feel more reassured having female drivers rather than men,’ says company director Gordon Rafferty.

‘I don’t think it’s sexist at all. The feedback has been really positive. We provide a service for women who might not feel comfortable having men in their homes – perhaps they’ve experienced domestic violence – even when it comes to visiting to do a quote.

A lot of customers (men and women) often request the female team because they assume they’ll be more careful, he adds. ‘But they have to be physically fit too as it isn’t an easy job. They have to lift huge fridge freezers, for example. There’s nothing our team can’t move.’

Fast Track Services

Before setting up her company in May 2016, Shereen Lawl combined her job as an operations manager with occasional work as a woman and van for hire. Sensing an increasing demand, Fast Track Services offers female-only removal services for vulnerable customers, who might be fleeing domestic violence or simply feel more comfortable having women complete their move.

‘Initially, I didn't think to start an all-female company, but as time went on and given all the comments and feedback, I soon realised there was a demand for women in this industry,’ says Shereen, based in London. ‘It’s so rewarding when we meet vulnerable women, in particular, who we’re able to talk to and relate to in certain circumstances. They feel overwhelmed that their relocation can be stress-free because it’s completed by women.

Fast Track Services

‘Single females also tend to prefer women to help with long distance moves and full packing services, as they often say they’re more comfortable with another female packing their underwear, for example.’

There’s still a stigma, however, and Shereen and her driver Anika often experience negative reactions. ‘Some customers have made comments such as, “I asked for a man and van service, not a woman and a van,’” she says. ‘They also ask whether we can lift. Yes, we can lift! We do it on a daily basis and we’ve been doing it for years.

‘Once we’ve finished the job, the initial negative is turned into a positive and people often apologise for doubting us. They just makes us more determined to complete the job to a high standard, going that extra mile to ensure we imprint our all-women stamp.’

Lady & Van

Lady & Van

Louise Knight runs her London company Lady & Van with a fleet of three vans, a team of male and female drivers – and her dog Squeeze.

Formerly a ceramicist with a pottery in Essex, she changed tack five years ago, determined to challenge the ‘man and van’ stereotype.

‘I remember reading somewhere that in business, if a manager has a tricky or new client, they sometimes favour sending a female to manage it,’ says Louise. ‘I would say this was definitely a hook to the evolution of our brand. And now the company is thriving.’

While she doesn’t exclusively offer women-only courier and delivery services, there is sometimes a demand. ‘We’ve worked quite extensively with Women’s Aid and they’re really our only client that has a legal stipulation (on occasion) for female-only services, due to security protocol on their sites,’ she says.

‘Generally, we get women calling us and we do our best to meet their needs. We have some guys work for us too. I try not to pigeonhole our services based on gender and really just focus on providing the best possible service to all our clients.’

Whether you’re a man or a woman with a van, you still need insurance. Start a quote with us today and see just how much you could save.

Driving forces

These female-focused companies are also challenging the status quo.

 

Annisa Cars
Based in London, this group of fully licensed female cab drivers caters exclusively to women and children.

Pink Ladies
This not-for-profit members’ club offers benefits such as shopping vouchers and bingo nights along with the use of its community transport vehicles, always driven by women.

Pink Plumbers
This national network of female plumbers helps traders start their own businesses, while offering an alternative to customers who might prefer having a woman in their home.

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