When you buy a Ford vehicle, the dealership sure does learn about you in the process, doesn’t it? Well, it’s about time to turn the tables and learn about them! Here’s a look at some dealers Ford salutes for everything from hipness and charity work to embracing social media and offering unique customer experiences. Are you a dealer who wants to be highlighted next year? Tell us your story here!
Cathy Anderson, Woody Anderson Ford, Huntsville, Alabama: How is a dealership like a hotel? Hospitality, and Cathy brings what she learned about hospitality in the hotel business to this business. She strives to take care of customers with that same welcoming and warm environment so that they feel relaxed and without pressure.
Doug Barbour, Capital Ford of Wilmington, North Carolina: How does this sound to you? An employer who believes in a work-life balance. Crazy, right? Doug’s all about it, developing a five-day workweek for sales and finance people, as well as a flex-time program so employees can attend things related to their kids and so on. “By 7 p.m., people are either eating dinner by the water or they’re boating with their families.”
John F. Bergstrom, Bergstrom Ford-Lincoln, Neenah, Wisconsin: How has John helped improve his community? Among the ways are a new state-of-the-art dental school and a world-class performing arts center. “We put a business discipline to fundraising. If you have a dream and the right people involved, you can accomplish even more than imagined.”
Alton Blakley, Alton Blakley Ford, Somerset, Kentucky: Meet one of the 2012 Salute to Dealers award-winners. His charity work is noteworthy; a fundraiser was focused on building the Somerset Family Fitness Center, and Alton also co-chaired a campaign to build a facility at Somerset Community College with a classroom functioning like a hospital room.
Mike Cimino, Phil Long Ford Lincoln, Motor City, Colorado Springs: Sometimes it’s not the number of vehicles a dealership sells, but the number of vehicles a dealership helps. During the wildfires in Colorado Springs, Mike wanted to help his community, providing employees with cash and time off or whatever else they needed, and also assisted the fire department and Red Cross with vehicles for their efforts, while the service department volunteered to fix trucks and other vehicles fighting the fires.
Marc Cross, Jordan Ford, San Antonio, Texas: Marc has a saying: “Our feeling is if we treat our employees like kings, they’ll treat our customers like royalty.” The dealership participated in the Ford Consumer Experience Movement, and it has developed a strong reputation thanks to perks like an in-house restaurant, a small-town dealership feel and a team that works directly with the employees to ensure it’s a great place to work, not just to shop.
Frank Downing, Towne Ford, Orchard Park, New York: Frank and team are always looking for new ways to keep customers loyal, which has included launching the Owner Advantage Rewards® loyalty program. The more customers bring their vehicles in for service at the dealership, the more they earn in service credits, comp’d oil changes and other rewards.
Dwayne Huntsman/Ryan Ramsay, Summit Ford, Silverthorne, Colorado: When the Ford Super Duty transmission team needs to test the truck in hardcore conditions, the Rocky Mountains are ground zero. The dealerships service techs are always available to the team for a part, tire chains, to store trailers and test vehicles, or whatever else they could possibly need, even after hours.
Bill Knight, Bill Knight Ford, Tulsa, Oklahoma: There’s a Bill Knight Ford app. Need we say more? We need: This is a dealer that likes to engage with its customers, and that includes recognizing that when it comes to sales, low-pressure wins. There’s also a hosted Sync My Ride clinic for new customers each month, where they learn about the SYNC® and MyFord Touch® technology.
Gus Machado, Gus Machado Ford, Hialeah, Florida: Salute to Dealers award-winner Gus believes strongly in giving back. He and his wife have personally raised $2.5 million for charities, including the American Cancer Society’s Reaching Out to Cancer Kids program.
Sam Pack, Sam Pack Ford Group, Dallas, Texas: Sam is a proponent of the Certified Pre-Owned program. Tracking its benefits revealed inventory turns over very quickly and customer satisfactory scores are high. The team also walks customers through as much history of the vehicle as they can provide before a purchase.
Bruce Schindler, Bob Davidson Ford Lincoln, Baltimore, Maryland: This probably says it all: Twelve consecutive wins of the Ford Motor Company President’s Award, which honors dealers for superior customer satisfaction. Bruce has been a part of the Customer Experience Movement, and he thinks the key to that starts with happy employees. “I really believe that loyal employees create loyal customers.”
Beau Smith, Sill-TerHar Motors, Broomfield, Colorado: This is a dealer that embraces social media, big time. Fun test-drive videos went viral, and employees have smartphones and tablets, preloaded with customer info in order to answer questions or connect via Facebook.
Kathy Summers, Harold Zeigler Ford Lincoln: How to expose more people to the Ford brand? The Ford Drive 4 UR School, for Ford dealers to help local schools raise money, and to allow people to get up close to Ford vehicles. The program has surpassed the $12 million donation mark.
Nate Sutton, Sutton Ford-Lincoln, Matteson, Illinois: This family business knows customers like to see the same faces, and many of its 90 full-time employees have worked there 10 years or more. Nate’s dealership has created a new profit center called “commercial account fleet marketing” and he’s been involved in the Ford Minority Dealers Association since 1989.
Natalie Tindol, Tindol Ford, Gastonia, North Carolina: When you’ve got a Zumba instructor running a dealership, you know things are going to be enthusiastic! Natalie has 93 employees, is the 2012 Chairman of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, does charity work, teaches those Zumba classes, and leads a Girl Scout troop. Working with young women as a mentor and guide is a cause close to her heart.
Daniel Yglesias, Palmetto Ford, Miami, Florida: The second-generation family-owned Ford dealership has been in existence since 1966, but the way the business is run has adapted to modern day. This has included an emphasis on E-commerce, as a way to make the researching and buying experience even easier for customers.