Ford Motor Co. and its dealers are on a mission to reduce the number of service bulletins and promotional materials that clutter customers' e-mail boxes.
More than 20 dealers around the country are participating in the Dealer Database Marketing Pilot. Ford appointed a vendor to handle all of a dealer's customer communications about service, from bulletins to scheduling appointments online.
Larry Taylor, owner of Beau Townsend Ford-Lincoln in Vandalia, Ohio, and a former dealer council member who is participating in the pilot, says: "We contact the customer at many different angles. It almost becomes junk mail to them. We want to promote our service, but we don't want to overpromote or just bug them."
Dealer Beau Smith said customers can get e-mails and other communications from many sources: the factory, Ford's Quick Lane lubrication service and the dealer's own messaging services. He is chairman of the Ford National Dealer Council and co-owner of Sill-TerHar Motors, which operates Ford and Lincoln franchises in Broomfield, Colo.
Smith said the pilot project to simplify service communication is in the "infant stages." Ford is "trying to understand the best way to go forward," he said. "I'm encouraged and optimistic."
Ford extended the pilot project to the end of March after dealers said they lacked sufficient time to evaluate it.
The pilot has been running for about 90 days. During that period, participating dealers have suspended all their normal service communications with customers and go through a single vendor.
Ford said it was too early to provide details of the pilot project.