Ford dealers’ time to shine is during a recall

Automotive News | June 6, 2013 - 2:49 pm EST

A vehicle recall can be good for dealers.

If handled right, a recall often helps boost a dealership’s customer retention rate and increase service revenues, an industry observer says.

Ford Motor Co. issued a global recall Monday on more than 465,000 vehicles. The vehicles have fuel tanks that can leak and cause fires. Dealers will replace the fuel delivery module, which includes the connector, on the vehicles, all of which are 2013 models.

And the repair gives dealers an opportunity to impress the customer.

“If you handle a customer concern properly, you’re going to build a relationship with them,” says Chip Maher, dealership management consultant for National Automobile Dealers Association 20 Group Program in McLean, Va. “Most dealers would rather not have quality issues, but if they do, they are going to make the best of a recall now.”

Ford’s recall comes when most service department sales are flat and profits are down, Maher says. And the Ford dealers Maher works with are focused on building customer retention, especially at Lincoln. That’s because beginning with 2014 models, Lincoln is cutting back its complimentary maintenance program to 2 years/24,000 miles from 4 years/50,000 miles.

“That is contrary to what dealers need right now. They need customers back in the showroom and service drive,” Maher says. “Recalls do exactly that.”

Maher says dealers can capitalize on a recall by making a video for YouTube showing costumers how the repair is handled and assuring customers the dealership will make it convenient and quick.

“Make it very friendly and easy for the customer,” Maher says.

And by posting that video, he says, dealers will get “more organic searches, making their Web site more relevant and engaging for those customers.”

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive NewsJamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News

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