Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the Hot Shot service. Ford parts distribution centers do not offer express parts delivery. Dealers rely on their own parts stocks to offer express delivery to other dealers and independents.
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s customer service division is rapidly expanding a dealer program for same-day, on-demand parts delivery that helps reduce wait times at repair shops.
Called Hot Shot express delivery, the service allows dealers or independent shops to order brakes, hoses or filters and have them delivered within two hours from other Ford dealers that offer the service. Ford’s regular parts distribution centers do not offer same-day delivery.
Ford has made the Hot Shot program available to its dealers since 2015 as a way to slash wait times at service centers, officials say, although some dealers may have established their own express parts delivery service prior to that. Since the program's formal introduction, the number of dealers involved has risen to 300, or roughly 10 percent of the automaker's total network.
"This is just one more tool we're putting in the dealers' hands to help them service their customers," Andrew Idler, manager of wholesale operations at the Ford customer service division, told Automotive News. "The underlying reason is that we want to improve our customer experience."
Harry Hollenberg, partner at consulting and research firm Carlisle & Co., said the trend is also about stopping dealers from taking their business to faster third-party parts providers such as Napa or AutoZone and sticking with the OEM.
"This is about capturing increased market share, but that's secondary to improved customer service," he said.
Same-day service is a trend only a few automakers are adopting.
"Generally speaking, the fastest you can get a part is next day," Hollenberg said.
Toyota and BMW offer same-day parts, he said.
Volkswagen Group of America is monitoring competitors who offer same-day service, but the group's parts boss has said he's skeptical the benefits outweigh the costs.
Ford dealers can sign up for the Hot Shot service and are responsible for paying for a dedicated Hot Shot driver and delivery vehicle. Idler declined to discuss costs.
Idler said the popularity of the service has grown recently because people expect instant gratification thanks to on-demand entertainment or other retail services.
A typical parts delivery involves trucks full of the same type of part. But sometimes, Idler said, shops can't be certain of demand, so they avoid stocking large numbers.
Hot Shot allows them to order a single part at a time, often multiple times a day.
Hollenberg said the multiple deliveries for individual parts could make business sense, depending on the automaker and dealer.
"Dealers only have so much room, and with some parts they only sell a few a year," he said. "There's no way the dealer's ever going to have everything he needs on the shelf."
Some dealers, such as Village Ford in Dearborn, Mich., make 20 to 30 Hot Shot orders a day.
"These deliveries are going to 40 different customers including other dealers and independent shops," Andrew Kochan, parts manager for Village Ford, said in a statement. "All are pleased with the service and many are amazed by our dedication to helping them better serve their customers."
Any Motorcraft- or Omnicraft-branded part is available through the service, but Idler said most orders are for high-volume items such as brake pads.