Ford Motor Company’s global chief executive Alan Mullally met some of the carmaker’s top UK dealers during his recent UK visit.
Mullally was introduced by Nigel Sharp, Ford of Britain managing director, to key retail partners including Hendy Group, Pendragon, Vertu Motors and its top retail dealer Cliff Dickinson & Son. He presented a plaque to Hendy Group, which this year marks 100 years with the Ford franchise.
Mullally explained the One Ford strategy of sharing platforms across different products and heard how UK Ford dealers were performing. Last year the network achieved its best return on sales for 21 years, helped by scrappage, low interest rates, high used car values and action Ford took to liquidate stock.
This year the average return is around 1%, on a par with arch-rival Vauxhall. Ford has cut dealers’ trading margin and reduced fleet discounts to make its cars more attractive by list price. Exchange rate pressures meant four price increases last year, which made its products appear expensive.
Sharp said dealers’ focus now must be on selling the car, not the discount.
“Offering £5,000 to £6,000 off is daft,” Sharp said. “The discounting route has worked well for 30 years, but it has run out of road. Over time it damages the brand and in the company car world it is bad news for the P11D.
“We are now studying how to change this. Rather than bring the price down, we are talking to customers about how much they are getting for their money.
“What we produce are world quality cars. We match anyone for driving dynamics and quality, but I don’t think we have that same recognition or reputation.”
Ford plans to work with a number of its dealers to examine what processes can be implemented to improve customer service.