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Ford likely to adopt agency sales to establish ‘long-term relationship’ with customers, boss tells Car Dealer

  • Ford boss says company needs to establish ‘long-term relationship’ with customers
  • Tim Slatter, chair of Ford in Britain, says company needs to change its go-to-market strategy
  • 48-year-old praises work of dealer network but says electrification means automotive industry has to change
  • No timeframe given on any changes to current dealership structure

Time 8:21 am, December 2, 2022

Ford’s UK boss says the firm’s dealer network is likely to transition to an agency model in the coming years as the company looks to establish a ‘long-term relationship’ with its customers.

Tim Slatter, chair of Ford in Britain, says that Ford needs to switch from the ‘short-term transactional relationship’ it currently has with its customers.

He told Car Dealer that the whole industry would change as a result of electrification, including the Blue Oval’s go-to-market strategy.

The 48-year old believes that in order for future ‘software-defined vehicles’ to be successful, Ford needs to have a ‘more direct’ relationship with its customers.

He said: ‘When we move to fully electric vehicles it is not just the powertrain in the vehicle which changes.

‘I think a lot of people just think it is just an electric powertrain rather than an ICE powertrain so why is this such a big transition?

‘The reality is that, for next generation full electric vehicles, almost the whole industry changes.

‘The way we design these products changes, the way we develop and sign them off changes and the way that we go to market will change as well.

‘One of the most important things for these connected vehicles is for us to have a much more direct and long-term relationship with our customers and we will seek to do that through a go to market strategy which will allow us to have a direct relationship.

‘That is just part of how the whole industry for electric vehicles changes. We want to move from a short-term transactional relationship with our customers to a much longer-term relationship with them.

‘That’s why we are putting so much effort into software capabilities – because it is clear that it is essential for a software defined vehicle – but that can only work if you have that direct relationship as well.’

No timeframe has been given to the impending change and Slatter insisted that he remains pleased with the work of Ford’s existing dealer network.

He also promised that any changes would continue to ‘respect the fantastic foundation’ provided by dealers.

Slatter added: ‘First of all, we are very lucky to have the dealer network that we do have. It is one of the strengths of our business. Anything we do will respect that as a fantastic foundation.

‘The dealer network is critical to our business but we will need to find a way to have a direct relationship with our customers so we can give them that full relationship benefit in the longer term.’

Are you a Ford dealer? Get in touch and let us know what you make of Slatter’s comments.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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