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Service Assure to boost Ford aftersales loyalty

Ford will launch a training programme for retailers in the second quarter to give sales staff and service receptionists the skills to sell Service Assure, its new pre-paid service package.

Service Assure is one of two tools to help dealers improve loyalty with service customers. The other is via the Nectar scheme which is more suited for customers with newer cars.

A key focus for Ford this year is raising loyalty levels with owners of older cars. It has raised retention from 28% to 31% over the past couple of years but is targeting 50%. Loyalty is defined over a 10-year average of the value of the service business.

“There is a perception that customers get better value outside the dealer network but there is enough evidence to say this isn’t the case,” said Ford of Britain managing director Roelant de Waard. “Transparent pricing will take away that perception.”

He wants the service plan to be sold in the showroom and in the service reception to new and used car owners. At the moment, dealers sell very few plans; de Waard points to the success of free schemes like the Mini TLC and says there is a “new battleground” to sell value to customers. He said: “Offering dealers profit per policy is not enough to get people behind it. “We have to translate it into a benefit for the salesman.

“We have built an incentive into the policy and then the dealer can translate that incentive into commission for the salesman.” Ford has discussed the process with the dealer council and came to the conclusion that it should be the dealer principal who controls the level of staff incentives.

“As a manufacturer, we can’t go direct to staff – it’s a conflict of interest,” de Waard said. The first stage will be to get the buy-in of Ford’s biggest retailer partners via a commission share scheme. The dealer and Ford will jointly fund the programme.

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