Ford Launches New Dealer Training Program With A.I. Integration

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Ford has announced its new dealership training platform for the United States, noting that it will utilize artificial intelligence to better familiarize sales teams with product knowledge, corporate history, while likewise making them better at engaging with customers.

Entitled “Ford University,” the program has been under development for roughly a year and looks to be composed of instructional videos that can be accessed over the internet.

From Ford:

It features a personalized, data-driven dashboard for each dealer employee, gamified learning experiences, 24/7 on-demand AI-supported virtual coaching, and a cinematic-style content library produced by award-winning producers and creatives who have spent all or portions of their careers creating popular television shows and feature films across major networks and streaming services. 
We're rolling out Ford University to Ford dealers across the United States starting May 1, with plans to expand further. This platform represents our commitment to providing customers with the even more knowledgeable and skilled dealers, enhancing the value of every customer experience. I'm excited for the positive changes Ford University will bring to our customers and dealers alike. It's a win-win for everyone.

Blue Oval appears to be leveraging all the latest trends with this one. Gamification has long been a tactic used by casinos and video game publishers to maximize interaction times. But it has gradually been seeping into other industries. We’ve even seen automakers toying with the concept as a way to encourage drivers to routinely interface with infotainment systems.

But the “cinematic-style content library” just sounds like it’s going to be a bunch of video clips with above-average production values. While the impulse may be to mock this, if the extra effort encourages dealers to stay more engaged than they otherwise would have, it is probably worth the time and effort required to pull everything together. Dealership experiences vary between brands and it’s always better when you’re dealing with someone that’s informed, especially if you’re likewise the kind of person who goes into buying a car having done some research in advance.

Videos are supposed to include everything from dry technical items and vehicle features to how to interact with customers and ensure one is representing the brand in a favorable light.

However, it’s the artificial intelligence that’s probably the most interesting aspect of Ford University. Here, salespeople will be asked to submit videos of themselves simulating how they would speak to a customer. The video is then graded by A.I. and will be keeping track of the dealer’s tone, whether they are speaking with confidence, and if they are comparing Ford products in a favorable light vs other brands. Ford said the system was powered by Microsoft Copilot and GPT. It likewise will have access to the relevant training data, including how each store scores on the tests. But it has said that there is currently no plan to punish or reward dealerships based on those results.

The stated goal will be to lift all showrooms using the training, regardless of their performance. However, the resulting data may be used to manage which subjects are focused on in future training programs while providing Ford with insight on any topics storefronts might be struggling with. Our guess is that’s all subject to change further down the line, as the company just launched the program.

Dealerships will have access today with the focus being on dealership employees working beyond vehicle servicing and repairs. However, the manufacturer has said it would like to add courses that cater to more technical employees later this year.

[Image: Ford]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 17 comments
  • Wjtinfwb Wjtinfwb on May 02, 2024

    Ford can produce all the training and instructional videos they want, and issue whatever mandates they can pursuant to state Franchise laws. The dealer principal and staff are the tip of the spear and if they don't give a damn, the training is a waste of time. Where legal, link CSI and feedback scores to allocations and financial incentives (or penalties). I'm very happy with my Ford products (3 at current) as I was with my Jeeps. But the dealer experience is as maddening and off-putting as possible. I refuse now to spend my money at a retailer who treats me and my investment like trash so I now shop for a dealer who does provide professional and courteous service. That led to the Jeep giving way to an Acura, which has not been trouble free but the dealer is at least courteous and responsive. It's the same owner group as the local Ford dealer so it's not the owners DNA, it's how American Honda manages the dealer interface with American Honda's customer. Ford would do well to adopt the same posture. It's their big, blue oval sign that's out front.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on May 02, 2024

    So is this going to lie and tell you that they have quality products at affordable costs that won't get recalled?

    • EBFlex EBFlex on May 03, 2024

      Ford has 23 recalls so far this year affecting almost three million vehicles. Bold Moves indeed…

  • Ajla It's weird how surveys comes to conclusions like this when about 100% of the responses then mock the results.
  • Jkross22 It very much depends on the dealer. Just bought a replacement for the CX9. A local dealer gave a $500 discount on a CPO car while another one gave a few thousand dollar discount but was out of the area and we had to drive 5 hours to get. The local dealer still seems to think it's 2022 and cars appreciate when sitting on the lot. I wish them luck.
  • Ajla "and the $34K price doesn't seem too steep." Respectfully disagree. This would be okay at $29K. $34k clangs into way too much.
  • FreedMike i puUut pUniZhR sTikKr oNn mY KoMMpAs aNd nOW i hEeR Eegle SkReem. (And no one knows it's made in Mexico.)
  • SCE to AUX What a farce.Besides, "patriotism" has been redefined a hundred different ways in the last 20+ years. Disagree with one of them, and you're a traitor.And for starters, Jeep is a Stellantis brand with its HQ in the Netherlands. If this persistent myth about patriotism is ever cracked, the brand is doomed.