Working with Ford – Dealers
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 2014, our 3,247 Ford and Lincoln dealers in the U.S. employed 170,000 individuals, with an annual payroll in excess of $7 billion. Worldwide, we had 11,980 Ford and Lincoln dealerships as of year-end 2014.
As part of our efforts to improve the Ford retail customer experience and to create loyal advocates of our products and services, we continue to work collaboratively with our U.S. Ford dealers to improve dealership facilities through the Ford Trustmark Facility Assistance Program. 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 2013, driven by increased used vehicle parts, service, and body shop sales. U.S. Lincoln dealers were also more profitable on average than in 2013, as higher demand for our new and freshened models increased new vehicle sales.
Engaging with Dealers
Dealer relations are a key priority for us. The Ford and Lincoln Dealer Councils provide forums 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 into 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 Movement Committee (CEM) – key customer experience initiatives, including potential opportunities and risks and next steps
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 long-term business growth opportunities
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 for 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 and 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 Dealer 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 Ford dealers and 52 percent of Lincoln dealers provided feedback through the summer 2014 NADA survey process. We remained consistent in many areas of this survey compared with our winter 2013 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.
Diversity and inclusiveness are core to Ford’s DNA. Growing a strong minority presence in our dealerships remains a key focus. At year-end 2014, Ford had 158 minority-owned dealerships, representing 4.9 percent of our 3,247 U.S. Ford and Lincoln dealerships.
At Ford, we have taken steps to better understand the diversity of our markets. We strengthened our efforts to develop both our dealers and our prospective dealers through financial assistance, training and education. And we continue to work with our Ford Minority Dealers Association (Ford MDA) to sustain and strengthen viability while working to gain new partners at all levels of the dealership body.