Ford to revamp dealer programs

Cologne, Germany. Ford-Werke boss Bernhard Mattes has set up a focus group to streamline dealer programs within the sales and marketing department.

"We need to clean and simplify the intersections between dealers and manufacturer so that car sellers and service staff can increase their focus on both market and customers again," Mattes said.

The first results should be achieved by summer.

Dealers have been complaining about the high complexity of Ford programs for quite some time. They also criticize the slow payment of bonuses and premiums that in some cases can take up to two years. Some businesses supposedly had outstanding six-figure payments.

Mattes said that these are isolated cases.

"However, dealers are right to complain that our cooperation is too complex in parts," he said. "It is our job to make business for the trade as easy as possible."

The focus group will analyze all dealer programs with specifically chosen dealers using the six-sigma method. They will submit their recommendations by the end of the second quarter.

According to research by Creditreform, 16 Ford dealers went broke during the first 10 months of 2004. This included three large groups: Ford Richter in Kassel, Vollmer & Sack in Karlsruhe and Heister in Trier.

"There are many cases where our partners' average rate of return is too small," Mattes said, without disclosing any details. Dealer sources talk of profit margins "just over zero."

But almost all the gaps in Ford's sales network created by insolvencies have been filled again.

Mattes said: "To me, this is proof that Ford continues to be an interesting partner for dealers."

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