DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is rethinking how it rewards loyal customers, thanks in large part to input from its retail network.
The automaker last week unveiled FordPass Rewards, an app-based loyalty program that awards points for spending money on vehicle maintenance. Ford's last program, Owner Advantage Rewards, was underutilized, available at just 400 of roughly 3,000 Ford brand dealers in the U.S.
Unlike the former program, which placed the financial burden on dealers, Ford will fund FordPass Rewards fully, although officials declined to reveal the projected cost. When it launched in April, virtually every Ford dealer was signed up.
The automaker spent considerable time crafting the program with the Ford national dealer council over the last 18 months. One idea it adopted on the council's recommendation was making points transferable among all dealerships to offer buyers more convenience.
"Our old program worked, but it didn't have the reach, flexibility and engagement from our brand to make it successful," Jason Sprawka, Ford's director of U.S. customer experience, told Automotive News. "The dealers made this program better. They challenged us to redesign it so that it was more customer-centric."
Everyone who downloads the FordPass smartphone app and connects it to a new vehicle will get 42,000 points — a value of about $210 — which is enough for three oil and air-filter changes, Ford said. Customers who purchase a certified pre-owned Ford will receive 11,000 points. They then earn 5 percent for every dollar spent on vehicle maintenance and service and can bank the points toward their next purchase, including buying or leasing a vehicle.