Back in November, we noted General Motors’ plan to drop its “GM Goodwrench” advertising identity in February of this year. Now comes word that Ford is planning to eliminate the “Blue Oval Certified” dealer service program.
The plan was announced in 2000 and was targeted at getting customers back into dealer service bays. The company claimed it was “the most comprehensive customer satisfaction program in the industry” and would “ensure customers receive a best-in-class retail experience at Ford dealerships.” Once up and running, Ford said that more than 80 percent of its dealers were in the program.
A story recently reported in Automotive News notes that many dealers spent a lot of money to upgrade service facilities and equipment to meet the certification criteria, and were also initially rewarded with large program bonus checks if the their customer satisfaction scores – known as Voice of the Customer (VOC) – remained high enough.
The program deteriorated along with the economic decline that hit the rest of the auto industry in the late 2000s, and Ford discontinued the bonus checks several years ago. Dealers were left with little more than a program of advertising and employee discounts but no real incentive to continue. Many dealers felt their up-front investments had not yielded sufficient rewards.
Since the service program relied heavily on customer satisfaction scores and the VOC index, some dealers also felt that their overall operation was being disproportionately affected by one part of the business. Many maintained the program certification simply to stay in good standing with the factory.
Some industry observers are already speculating that as this program falls, another service promotion is somewhere close behind.