DEARBORN – As Ford Export and Growth vehicle sales have grown steadily, exceeding 166,000 in 2012, so too have sales of the Extended Service Plan contracts it offers. With the year barely half over, sales of ESP contracts in E&G markets have already surpassed the number sold for all of 2012.
The growth is particularly impressive considering extended service plans have only been available in most of the markets for no more than six years. But in that short time sales have grown to 50,000 contracts a year and are expected to top 100,000 annually by 2020.
ESP sales are up in all of the regions represented by E&G – Ford Middle East, Asia Pacific, the Caribbean and Central America (CCA) and Sub-Saharan Africa – but are strongest in the Middle East. E&G Warranty Manager Steven Balder credits the dealers, particularly those in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, with recognizing the benefits of Extended Service Plans and communicating that to their customers.
“ESP is one of those rare products that benefits everyone, most importantly, the customers,” Balder says. “With these plans, they are able to manage the variables in the cost of owning a vehicle because factory scheduled maintenance and wear-and-tear items such as filters and brakes are covered.”
Balder says dealers recognize that customers who purchase ESPs not only return to them for service but are more likely to purchase their next vehicle from the same dealership.
Export & Growth offers multiple forms of Extended Service Plans, from which customers can purchase the one that best meets their needs. These are individualized according to region to meet the needs of customers in different parts of the world. In Korea, for example, all Ford vehicles come with an Essential Maintenance ESP, while in CCA the PremiumCare plan is placed on all Ford Rangers and Everests, increasing their appeal versus their key competitors.
Also offered are a Powertrain Care plan and Premium Maintenance Upgrades, among others. The depth of the offerings have contributed to the sales success, says Balder, as has a focus on making the sales process more convenient for the dealers.
“We recognized that the ESP business was beginning to outgrow our manual processing system,” he says, “so we worked to transform it to one that’s not only simplified but faster and more accurate.”
In E&G the selling point of ESP is the same as in the rest of Ford: Rather than having to turn to a third-party provider with no long-term interest in the dealer or customer, Balder says Ford Extended Service Plans provide OEM support and seamless integration with the warranty payment system. “Ford has been selling ESP in the United States for more than 35 years, and while the plans are newer to E&G markets, we are able to leverage this experience to the benefit of our vehicle owners and dealers.”
E&G provides sales, marketing, service, logistics, planning and financial support to dealers and distributors in four regions – Ford Middle East, Caribbean and Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific. Extended Service Plans are available in all of the regions, but not in all of the markets – yet. “There is a large pool of potential customers we’re eager to reach,” says Balder. “We expect to make additional inroads from new products and service enhancements, particularly as dealers become more aware of the benefits of offerings ESP contracts.”