As Dealers Meet, Ford's Focus Switches From Customer Conquest to Retention
The plan may as well carry the heading “Operation Don’t Leave Us.” As Ford dealers meet in Las Vegas, the automaker has shifted its focus from luring buyers from other brands to keeping Ford owners in the family.
Helping firm up that relationship are a series of “Built Ford Proud” ads poised to hit the airwaves this weekend, with Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston serving as the brand’s spokesman. For dealers, product assurances top the most-wanted list. Apparently, they got them.
Miffed that Ford culled the brand’s sedan/small car lineup with little notice or consultation, dealers assembled in Las Vegas were told that low-priced Fords will not go extinct, though Automotive News‘ man on the ground didn’t hear specifics about the brand’s entry-level strategy.
Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley, reportedly pledged to offer “several” vehicles in the sub-$25,000 price range. Recently, the planned importation of the Ford Focus Active from China hit a dead end as a result of import tariffs, leaving just the tiny EcoSport crossover as entry-level fare.
Globally, Ford faces steep challenges in China as well as Europe, making its sliding U.S. sales even more of a concern. Year to date, Ford sales fell 2.1 percent stateside. Hoping to retain loyal buyers, the automaker plans to allocate more product to high-volume dealers, while development cycles will be shortened to keep the brand on its toes. A loyalty program will emerge in the coming year, targeted mainly at truck buyers.
By offering rewards, new perks, and boosting the frequency of customer interactions, Ford hopes to keep the love flowing back.
[Image: Ford Motor Company]
Erikstrawn on Oct 22, 2018
The dealers ARE the problem. I do my own maintenance, but because I didn't spend hundreds of dollars every year at the dealership, they pretended my warranty issues don't exist. As soon as my Mustang was out of warranty they could hear the strut top popping and offered to fix it for $800. When I told them it was a documented pre-existing condition they told me to pound sand. Ford's warranty is worthless to me. I'm buying Toyota next time.
HotPotato on Oct 24, 2018
I adored my C-Max. But I dumped it far sooner than I had planned, at the cost of truly epic depreciation, because I was scared to own the damn thing out of warranty. It had so many recalls that we didn't even get to all of the repairs before the warranty ran out. At 70k miles the engine shuddered upon shutoff, the transmission and wheel bearings had already failed and been replaced, and torsional rigidity was so poor that the car creaked like a pirate ship simply turning into a normal driveway. I later learned the latter may have been because of failed A-pillar welds; good thing I never got in a wreck in the thing, I guess. Yet I was still sad to see it go. Ford knows how to make an appealing product...but if it wants to keep customers, it should finish engineering the car before releasing it, err on the side of overbuilding rather than underbuilding for strength, and assemble it with some semblance of care. The one truly outstanding vehicle in Ford's lineup is the Fusion: looks great, handles great, fine value. And yet they have let it wither on the vine...and now they are quitting it and all other passenger cars. I really don't know what they're thinking.
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