Many believe that the American automotive industry, which has followed more-or-less the same model for the last century, is finally entering a new era as autonomous cars, electrification, and online car purchasing usher in “Auto 2.0”. But rather than fear the disruptions that Auto 2.0 might bring, automobile dealers ought to fully embrace the changes and evolve to capitalize on brand-new possibilities, Ford President of Global Markets Jim Farley says.
“The franchise system is going to have to evolve in a meaningful way, but it’s doable,” Farley told a crowd of reporters and dealers at a NADA forum Tuesday. “What makes you guys special is your creativity. If we just apply that creativity to a few other new areas, we can be just as successful as a team as we have in the past.”
Farley said that connected and autonomous vehicles will give dealers new options in terms of services they can offer. “It should not be strange at all for someone should be able to get on their phone, hit the FordPass app and get a car wash while they’re at work,” he said, by way of example. “I can think of hundreds of services like that customers would love.”
The Ford executive also suggested that dealers should work on forging closer relationships with customers, even to the point of focusing a bit less on conquesting, and a bit more on nurturing loyal, repeat customers and “exploring new revenue opportunities” with them. Universal, company-wide incentives might even need to be replaced with custom-tailored deals for specific buyers, he said.
Finally, Jim Farley said that dealer facilities themselves may need to change, remarking that the footprint of the average Ford dealership might be too large. “I think we’re going to need really nice facilities forever,” the Ford President of Global Markets said. “I’m just not sure that they have to be as big as they have been.”
(Source: Automotive News)