Ford has now opened 105 specialist Transit Centres across the UK designed to give enhanced levels of service to its van customers, covering the entire model range from Fiesta van to Transit 2-tonne.
“If we go back to 2008 when we saw the new product being developed and we knew that come 2014/15 we would have the full line-up, we had to start preparing for a new proposition,” says Terry Rayner, director Transit Centres, Ford of Britain.
“It’s our view that we needed to have a different proposition to demonstrate the product better, to present the product better and actually if we look back at where we were, we were largely, from a dealer perspective, a car company that sold a few vans. We were very successful at it but often it was car guys selling car and commercial.
“Our view was that we needed to make a more distinct separation of the business, have dedicated sales teams and a completely different set of proposition standards. There’s a need for our dealers to grow their service capacity, whether that’s putting more lifts in or more people.”
The new centres come with the Transit24 service promise, which includes extended opening hours, while-you-wait servicing and priority handling for urgent repairs in the Transit Centre workshops. All Transit Centres carry RAC certification and opening hours from at least 7.30am to 6.30pm as well as Saturday mornings. Late night servicing is available on Thursday. Customers who drop a vehicle off by 4.00pm can collect at 10.00am on Friday morning. On-line service booking is available and Ford is offering a vehicle collection and delivery option.
Ford opened the first Transit Centre in November 2013 at Abingdon. “That was our pilot study really,” says Rayner. “A chance to see how the process would work. We had some look and style standards for car and we wanted to do it for CVs, make things appropriate.”
In addition to the 105 centres, Ford has another 83 service only locations. “Of the 105, we’ve got 32 dealers that have dedicated, new commercial vehicle showrooms, ranging from the largest at Abingdon to a small unit that has been built in front of a dealership,” says Rayner.
“We’ve said to the dealers that we want to make a difference with this, it’s about changing the process, so we’ve been very focussed on customer qualification. Rather than dealing with fleet and corporate tenders where the customer already knows what they want, we’re trying to attract a whole new set of business customers that perhaps don’t know what they want.” Ford monitors the standards it has set with mystery shopping to keep dealers on their toes.
“For service, we took a different approach,” says Rayner, “We’ve got service outlets in for instance Truro, Birmingham, Aberdeen and Glasgow. They all have different market places and dynamics. Our view was that the proposition needs to be simple and equal across every dealership and it’s up to them to work out the capacity requirements in their area.
“So we have a two, five and seven day proposition. A routine service and repair customer should wait no longer than two days to be booked in. For a collect and deliver service, the waiting time should be no more than five days and for a vehicle where a courtesy vehicle will be required, the wait should be no more than seven days.
“If you’ve got a dealership in Birmingham, you might need 15 ramps to meet those criteria, but if you’ve got a dealership in Truro, you might only need two ramps. We mystery shop the lead times, not their capacity.”
And it’s paying dividends, reckons Rayner. The Abingdon Centre has expanded sales and its customer area from a 15-mile radius to 40. And the dealership is selling more cars as well.