DEARBORN - The Ford Truck team leans heavily on its dealer body not only for sales and service support but also for customer insight that results in better products.
“Our dealers are very important to us because they are the faces of Ford interacting with customers each and every day. They’re selling the vehicles, servicing them and addressing customer needs so that they return again and again for another new F-Series pickup,” said Doug Scott, Ford Truck Group Marketing manager.
Scott says the Ford Truck Team is actively engaged with its dealer body.
“There is a lot of contact between the dealers and our brand managers,” he said. “They’re willing to provide feedback from customers because they know it’s going to get incorporated into the product.”
Ford Trucks also has dealer advisory boards in place in regions of the country where truck sales are high – like Texas – to elicit feedback from dealers.
Mitchell Dale serves on one of the advisory boards. He is a third generation dealer and owner of McRee Ford in Houston, Texas, where 85 percent of the vehicles sold are Ford trucks.
“Being a member of the dealer advisory board gives us personal experience that the company is listening and that they’ve got their ear to the ground,” he said. “They want input from the field because they’re up there designing and engineering the vehicles but the majority of those guys have never sold the products.”
Dale says the meetings provide him with an ideal forum to share what he’s hearing from customers.
“We talk about what people like and dislike and we pose a lot of ‘what ifs,’” he said. “They also bounce ideas off us about different components and ask us what we’re selling. They have their projections on take rates for different commodities and trim levels and things like that and they want to know what we want more of.”
Wes Studdard, general manager of Bluebonnet Motors in New Braunfels, Texas, is also a member of the dealer advisory board.
“I remember when King Ranch first came out, it wasn’t available in the color white and that was something that we really pushed for because we knew our customers wanted it. Ford listened and added white as a paint choice,” he said. “Having direct feedback and communication with the people manufacturing the products we sell is a great advantage to us. If we don’t like something, we just tell them and they’ll try to figure out a solution.”
At the end of the day, it is the customer who benefits, says Dale.
“We absolutely without question build the best truck on the market,” he said. “I know I’m prejudiced because I’m a Ford dealer but I tell you if you drive our vehicles and drive the competition’s, you’ll see that our team has gotten it right.”
Scott says without the dealer body, F-Series would not be America’s best-selling truck for 35 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle – car, truck or SUV – for 30 years in a row.
“We are blessed with the most truck-knowledgeable dealer body in the industry,” he said. “Their expertise in helping our customers to understand the breadth of the Ford F-Series lineup and the competitive advantages we have is invaluable.”