To the Editor:
As a former Ford dealer (I sold my family's dealership of 38 years in June 2004), I remain an anxious observer of Ford's current situation and its future prospects.
I am concerned that amid all that has been written about Ford's defensive moves - job cuts, factory closings and legacy cost reductions - there has been no mention of Ford's looking to its dealer body for its critical offensive strategy, which is the development and marketing of new product.
Ford has shown time and again that it doesn't "get" the retail process; its dealers' continuing success shows that its dealers do. Any culture change at Ford that doesn't include an appreciation of Ford's capable dealer body will come up short. Unfortunately, while one of Ford's great strengths is its dealer body, Ford has earned a place at the bottom of a recent UBS dealer ratings survey.
In addition to having a true car guy in charge of Ford's product and marketing development, Ford should look to a group of its dealers - successful dealers with high customer-satisfaction and high owner-loyalty histories - for input in this critical process.