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Our dealers are a source of strength. They are a critical part of our success and important economic contributors to their communities. They represent the face of Ford to our customers and communities and provide employment, tax support, leadership and customer service. As of year-end 2013, our 3,263 Ford and Lincoln dealers in the U.S. employed 170,000 individuals, with an annual payroll in excess of $7 billion. Worldwide, we had 11,772 Ford and Lincoln dealerships as of year-end 2013.

As part of our continuing efforts to improve the Ford retail customer experience and to create loyal advocates of our products and services, in 2013 we launched the Ford Trustmark Facility Assistance Program working collaboratively with our U.S. Ford dealers to improve dealership facilities. In addition, we continue to work with our Lincoln dealers to focus our mutual efforts on the transformational change necessary to meet the high expectations of the luxury customer, including upgrading dealership facilities and the services provided at those dealerships.

On average, U.S. Ford dealers were more profitable last year than in 2012, as higher demand for our new and freshened models increased new vehicle sales. U.S. Lincoln dealers were also more profitable on average than in 2012, with increased used vehicle, parts, service and body shop sales.

Engaging with Dealers

Dealer relations are a key priority for us. The Ford and Lincoln Dealer Council provides a forum for open dialogue between Dealer Council members and Ford. Through the Council process, dealers can voice their concerns, needs and ideas for working more productively as a team. Also, dealers annually identify their priorities, which are published along with Ford management responses, providing transparency to the discussions between the company and its dealers.

To ensure that communication lines remain open, Dealer Council members also participate as members of Ford’s National Dealer Advisory Panels. The current Dealer Advisory Panels, and the topics they address, are as follows:

  • Commercial Truck Advisory Board (CTAB) – sales, marketing and product programs
  • Consumer Experience Committee (CEM) – consistency of consumer experiences across interactions with Ford and dealers, warranties and other consumer issues
  • Customer Viewpoint Advisory Panel (CVP) – customer satisfaction rating system, Viewpoint survey
  • Dealer Product Advisory Committee (DPAC) – current and future product cycle plan, including lineup, design, styling and color/trim options
  • Fixed Operations Strategic Advisory Board (FOSAB) – fixed operations business growth opportunities such as service departments
  • Ford Credit Dealer Advisory Board – vehicle financing and competitiveness
  • FordDirect Dealer Advisory Board – new digital consumer lead products and services
  • Government Affairs Committee – advice to Ford Motor Company’s Government Affairs office on federal and state automotive legislative issues that have major implications to the business and industry
  • Marketing Dealer Advisory Board (MDAB) – vehicle packaging strategy, advertising creative, incentive programs for Ford
  • Parts and Service Manager Advisory Committee (PSMAC) – fixed operations programs, including employee recognition/retention
  • Retail Experience of the Future (REOF) – online vehicle search engines, and third-party aggregators (e.g. Google, Cars.com, TrueCar) of Web-based vehicle searches and sales leads
  • Training Advisory Board (TAB) – dealership employee training and recognition.

The feedback gathered through these interactions has helped us develop programs, change policies and enhance processes to improve the customer ownership experience and other significant elements of dealers’ businesses.

In addition to the feedback provided through the Dealer Council and advisory panels, dealer satisfaction is measured in various ways, including the biannual survey of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) as well as day-to-day interaction with our dealers. Approximately 54 percent of our Ford dealers and 52 percent of Lincoln dealers provided feedback through the summer 2013 NADA survey process. We remained consistent in many areas in this survey compared with our winter 2012 record improvements, including in our Regional Sales, Service and Parts Personnel rankings. In addition, Ford Motor Credit Company Capability rankings exceeded the industry and previous scores in nearly every category. Finally, Value of Franchise, Product Quality, Competitiveness, Policies and Procedures, and Vehicle Incentives also showed favorable results.

Dealer Diversity

Diversity and inclusiveness are part of Ford’s DNA, and growing a strong minority presence in our dealerships remains a key focus. At year-end 2013, Ford had 164 minority-owned dealerships, which represents 5 percent of our 3,263 U.S. Ford and Lincoln dealerships. At Ford, we continue to work with our Ford Minority Dealers Association (Ford MDA) to sustain and strengthen the current minority dealer portfolio with dedicated resources to increase profitability. Together we are directing efforts toward growing the minority ranks of dealership management and employment to better reflect the community and to facilitate a greater number of future Minority Dealer principals.

Dealer Sustainability Program

We are continuing to expand the “Go Green” Dealer Sustainability Program we launched in 2010. The goal of the “Go Green” program is simple: to collaborate with dealers to implement cost-effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. To enter the program, dealers undergo an energy assessment to identify opportunities to reduce their overall carbon footprint and lower their energy costs.

Dealers can participate in the “Go Green” program through the Ford Electric Vehicle (EV) program. As we expand our EV offerings and certified dealer network, dealers can undergo a “Go Green” energy assessment as part of the process of becoming a certified EV dealer. Beginning in 2013, dealers can also participate through the Ford Trustmark Facility Assistance Program, which encourages and assists dealerships in upgrading their physical operations to the new “Trustmark” branded Ford facilities. Through the “Trustmark” program, dealers undergo an energy assessment as part of the approval process for obtaining renovation assistance from Ford Motor Company.

Ford established an Energy Team to manage the energy assessments, and we partnered with Harris Lighting and New England Energy Management (NEEM), Inc. – global leaders in energy consulting – to complete the actual assessments. The Ford Energy Team also reviews the dealerships plans for their new facilities.

As of the end of 2013, nearly half of our 3,263 U.S. dealers had enrolled in the “Go Green” program as part of the EV and “Trustmark” programs. Through the “Go Green” energy assessments performed, dealers realize the tremendous opportunities that exist for implementing green technology and achieving significant annual cost savings.

For more information on Ford’s EV dealer certification process, please see the Electrification section.

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