JAMIE LaREAU

Ford's Blue Oval Certified is dead and no one mourns

Automotive News | July 15, 2011 - 1:00 pm EST

Today marks the official end of Ford Motor Co.'s Blue Oval Certified program.

You would be hard-pressed to find any Ford dealer who cares.

In fact, some say good riddance to the customer satisfaction and dealer reward program.

Ford launched Blue Oval Certified in 2000. It was a big deal then. Many dealers spent thousands of dollars after J.D. Power and Associates advised them on how to make their dealerships Blue Oval Certified.

And for some big dealers it was well worth the investment. One dealer told me he received monthly checks of $50,000 to $70,000 from Ford because he met certain Blue Oval Certified criteria such as high customer satisfaction scores.

But that was years ago. Ford ended the payouts about five years ago, dealers say. Other perks and rewards faded away, too, until all that was left in the program was vehicle discounts to dealership employees.

Yet, many dealers still had to meet Blue Oval Certified criteria to keep their certified status. Their only motivation was a fear that their franchise would be yanked if they did not remain certified, some say.

To the dealers I spoke with, the program was so watered down with any kind of benefit to them that the end is a nonevent. Even Ford officials said Blue Oval's demise isn't a big deal for the factory at this point.

But there is a lesson here.

If dealers and the factory aren't engaged in a mutually rewarding program that's tailored to meet a dealership's unique needs, then well-intended plans tend to morph into nothing more than what one dealer summed up as: "Just another thumbprint program to show you're paying attention to your customers."

Jamie LaReau covers Ford Motor Co. for Automotive NewsJamie LaReau covers Ford Motor Co. for Automotive News

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