Collaboration Between Ford Teams Leads to Industry-First Off-Road Coverage Offering

Jul 02, 2024

As Ford continues to create fun and capable products to help customers go over any terrain, the company is going a step further to provide the confidence to make the most of its vehicles when they’re taken on off-road adventures. Ford Dealers now offer Off-Road Coverage – the first such offering from a North American automaker – to help repair tire and wheel damage, minor chips and cracks to the windshield, or small dents and dings to the body of a Ford Bronco, Bronco Sport, or any off-road-capable Ford vehicle with under 36,000 miles purchased within the last three years. 

The coverage is now available at Ford Dealers, where it can be added to select Ford Protect plans. The plan covers approved costs related to the repair or replacement of a wheel or tire as a result of off-roading, while Paintless Dent Repair is used to remove minor dents and dings. Minor chips and cracks in the windshield caused by rocks and road debris are also covered.

Confidence booster

Bronco Brand Manager Jason Hyde said Off-Road Coverage adds an additional layer of coverage that appeals to Bronco owners who have an off-roading mindset. It’s not uncommon to encounter a rock or a trail scrape while off-roading, he said, and this provides greater peace of mind as customers get out in the wild and drive their vehicles as they were meant to be handled. 

“This offering speaks their language because we know they love their vehicles,” Hyde said. “It shows our ability to listen and provides something that allows them to continue doing what they love to do with added confidence.”

Janice Smith, Bronco Family Experience Owner, who was integral in creating the offering, said providing coverage backed by Ford with service provided by Ford-certified technicians, including genuine Ford Parts, gives credibility to Off-Road Coverage, which was one of the main areas of focus when the plan was created.  

“It was critically important that Ford be portrayed as an authentic, single source of truth for off-roading,” Smith said. “Using clear language to describe Off-Road Coverage conveys authenticity, while also reducing confusion for our customers.”

Collaboration benefits customers

Off-Road Coverage launched late last year, the result of a lengthy project that included collaboration between multiple teams, such as Customer Experience, the Bronco team, Ford Credit, Ford Protect, and Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD), among others. Large brainstorming sessions of approximately 20 people commenced in 2022 after data insights showed Ford Bronco owners were using their vehicles for off-roading at a greater rate than owners of competitor vehicles. Some 75 ideas, many of which were related to off-road coverage, spun out of the initial gathering. A series of smaller group meetings hammered out the finer points once the Off-Road Coverage concept had been selected.

Agency partners and off-road trail guides were also included in the initial gatherings, as the group explored existing coverage and plotted new solutions and then their execution, which included a pilot program with dealers. The teams also used data to determine that damage to the tires, windshield, and the body of the vehicle were the most likely to occur while off-roading. 

“Having all of that participation and all of those brains in the same room was pretty powerful,” Smith said. “We all put our heads together. There were no wrong answers, no dumb ideas, or stupid questions. We just let our thoughts flow. We were pushing ourselves to think differently about traditional practices.”

The coverage plan was introduced to Bronco Nation last fall. “A more comprehensive plan aimed at more experienced off-roaders could come in the future,” Smith said.

Making customers more than customers

Ford is working to create experiences that make our customers more than customers, as we extend the buying experience.

“In the past, customers would come in and buy a vehicle and then you would never see them again,” Smith said. “We’re trying to make it more of an experience of buying a vehicle. We want to elevate the whole consideration, purchase, and onboarding process and this is just an extension of that, specifically for our Bronco customers.”

Customer research, including social media listening, surveys, and in-depth interviews, were used to determine sentiment on desirability, usability, and pricing, which helped drive the decisions that were made during the creation of the new Off-Road Coverage option. Smith said some customers have also shared inhibitions about off-roading, as well as accessibility. 

“We want to have a genuine relationship with our customers, and the CX team is working hard to deliver that for our company and for our customers,” Smith said. “We want to stay engaged, build relationships, and create exciting ownership experiences.”

Another confidence-builder 

While the Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport are made for off-roading, Smith said research has shown that customers don’t always know what to do or where to go when it comes to off-roading. Her off-roading experiences have included attending the Bronco Off-Roadeo, a free, daylong experience for new Bronco owners where they learn how to get the most out of their Broncos. Customers she met there, as well as those at a recreation area during another off-roading venture in Texas, want to learn more about off-roading.

“A lot of customers buy the Bronco just because they want to be part of the off-roading lifestyle, not just because it’s a beautiful vehicle,” she said. “We’ve learned a lot about connecting through off-roading over the course of this project.”  

The Off-Road Coverage option is a great way to build a customer’s peace of mind as they pursue their passions. “You see the confidence come through by the end of the day,” Hyde said of the Bronco Off-Roadeo event, which includes off-road training for new owners. “Many start with little to no off-roading experience, and by the time they’re done with that first day and they’ve experienced firsthand what the Bronco can do, they want to go home and continue that and share their love of off-roading with friends and family.”

The Ford Protect Off-Road Coverage option can be added at your local Ford Dealer. Click here for more information.