Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Catonsville, Md.
Ford to focus on winning trust
Geez don't we hear this stuff from all of the Big 3 every 18 months or so ???
From Automotive News:
Ford to focus on winning trust
New campaign aims to change perceptions
February 11, 2008
BY TIM HIGGINS
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ford Motor Co. plans to unveil a new marketing campaign in March or April that works to restore consumer trust in the Dearborn automaker's products, according to Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of marketing and communications.
"The key elements are" to "restore the trust," he said Sunday, following a meeting with Ford dealers in San Francisco at the National Automobile Dealers Association's annual convention.
"Our approach is very fundamental. Dealers are the key spokespersons in our process, and we're just about at the end of developing our plan," Farley said.
Ford has made great strides in improving vehicle quality, but it still fights a perception among consumers who remember bad experiences.
"I've been around the Ford dealership for 30 years. Without a doubt, we have the best product right now that we have ever had. We have this perception problem with the public," said Brian Jarrett, a Ford dealer from Winter Haven, Fla., and vice chairman of Ford's dealer council. "Why is everybody so enthused? We have the product right now, but we've just got to get the word out."
Jarrett noted that warranty work is down, an example of how quality has improved.
"In the long-term, that's what we want. We've got the best quality of cars in the industry. That perception is going to turn around," he said.
Farley was guarded on what he said about the marketing efforts, other than saying they must restore trust on issues such as resale value, safety, quality, advanced technology and using new products to build on what the company wants to highlight.
"All of it," he said. "Go to ... any of the third-party evaluators of corporate image and what they'll first say is that you've got to be honest with people. The second thing they'll say is tell them about the trust factors. And we have a heck of a story."
In its private meetings with dealers, Ford focused on dealer profitability and discussed some specific new programs about those efforts.
Ford, Mercury and Lincoln dealers emerging from meetings with Ford executives said the automaker announced a 1% increase in the dealers profit margin.
At the same time as Ford dealers met, Chrysler LLC held a meeting with an estimated 800 of its 3,600 dealers, a group that has been learning over the past week or so that the Auburn Hills automaker wants to step up efforts to consolidate its franchise dealer network and is making plans to significantly reduce the number of vehicle models it sells.
Going into the meeting, Jeff Dubose, a Dodge-only dealer in Wilmington, N.C., expected the worst.
"It was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be," he said as he left the meeting that many dealers called upbeat. "I thought maybe they were going to force dealers out, but that doesn't seem to be the issue. They are just trying to bring everybody together."
Chrysler executives said they have not come up with a final number of dealerships they want to consolidate, but have given examples that indicate some markets could see major changes. In Detroit, for example, Chrysler foresees the market needing about 25 fewer dealerships.