The staff at Joe Drew's Ford dealership is making 1,300 phone calls.
The calls are going out to consumers who recently bought a Ford vehicle at College Ford, a competitive dealership shut down by Ford Motor Co. in December.
'I'm making sure they get a good, warm phone call from us so they know we are here,' said Joe Drew, owner of Drew Ford in La Mesa, Calif.
Drew is responding to a change in Ford's retail distribution strategy. Ford is fostering the creation of strong dealers who run large, profitable dealerships. Ford closed College Ford in Lemon Grove, Calif., a company-owned dealership, in a bid to reduce competition in the San Diego market and strengthen the remaining 13 Ford dealers.
Drew, whose dealership is nearest the closed store, is preparing his staff, which is precisely what Ford wants - dealers who give better service.
'We have had training meetings to make sure that when College customers come here they are welcomed,' said Drew, whose father became a Ford dealer in 1934.
Drew Ford, which sells more than 5,000 new vehicles annually and services vehicles from 100 bays, is expanding. Drew is adding to the store's service bays, vehicle storage, parts warehousing and collision facilities.
John McCallan, owner of Pearson Ford in San Diego, also anticipates increased business as a result of the closure. Pearson Ford and Drew Ford are less than five miles from the closed dealership.
McCallan is adding a service adviser and at least two technicians to handle a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in service traffic. He also is buying newspaper advertising and a billboard promotion in the area formerly serviced by College Ford.
'We have seen an immediate increase in our service business,' said McCallan, whose store sells about 3,000 new retail units annually.