Servicing goes mobile
Ford has found a novel way to reduce vehicle downtime with the rollout of a new mobile servicing programme. Curtis Hutchinson, editor of Motor Trader, reports.
Company vehicle downtime is an unwanted inconvenience. For years drivers have been used to having punctured tyres repaired or windscreens replaced at their place of work but when it comes to getting their car serviced it means contacting the local dealer, planning around their workshop availability and hoping for a loan car to keep mobile.
That could change with a new programme rolled out by Ford which offers mobile servicing, maintenance and warranty repairs to customers at their place of work or home.
Ford had already taken a lead in offering flexible servicing options for fleets back in 2013 when it rolled out its Transit24 programme aimed at raising the service levels offered by dealers selling light commercials to local fleets. The programme was an acknowledgement of how LCV downtime can negatively impact the profitability of customers whose vehicles serve as workhorses.
At the time the step was an intriguing one as it raised the status of van operators by providing a service aimed at keeping them on the move with participating dealers expected to offer late night openings. Going mobile is the next logical step.
The new mobile service benefits from significant investment from Ford and has been undergoing fine tuning for some time. The initial pilot took place within the M25 with dealers in the factory-owned TrustFord group offering a mobile service for their light commercial customers.
The pilot was success and was extended to other parts of the country in early 2016 with the added benefit of covering non-Ford LCVs for mixed fleet operators. From this summer the service has been extended further to include all Ford vehicles from the KA+ to the Transit; a bold move from the UK’s biggest fleet brand.
Central to the mobile service is a fleet of over 100 Ford Transit Custom vans run from 90 dealerships across the UK operating Transit Centres.
The liveried vans are equipped with 2.5-tonne jack and axle stands to allow the specially trained technician-drivers easy access to the underside of vehicles. They also feature on-board 4G-enabled diagnostic equipment.
The potential vehicle throughput is impressive with each van able to service up to four vehicles a day. There’s also the potential to offer fleets multiple services at the same location.
Andy Barratt, Ford’s UK chairman and managing director, sees the move as a game changer, describing it as “proof of our next level commitment to all our fleet customers.”
“We are delighted that the Ford Mobile Servicing vans are now in action across the UK.
“If you have an unplanned incident or need servicing then we will come out and do that. We are going to be more flexible and more nimble in the service space than ever before,” he said.
“It’s a big step forward in the way that we serve our customers and I’m really excited about it.”
The programme is a home grown UK initiative which has been embraced by larger Ford dealers across the country and will no doubt serve as a template for the brand’s other European markets. By adding mobile servicing to its aftersales mix and opening it up to cars, Ford now has a valuable USP in the competitive fleet market. Expect others to follow.
Ford rolls out all-makes parts
As well as offering mobile servicing, Ford dealers are also gearing up to provide customers an all-makes servicing facility following the launch of its new Omnicraft replacement parts brand.
Ford dealers across Europe are now able to supply parts and servicing for all non-Ford vehicles with the 2,000 most commonly requested parts including oil filters, starter motors, alternators, brake pads and discs available at launch.
In the coming months Ford will introduce engine and cabin air filters, brake master cylinders and wheel hub assemblies, amongst other parts.
“Omnicraft completes the Ford family of parts, leveraging the strength of the Ford network while also enabling dealerships in Europe to be a one-stop provider of parts that better serve used vehicle outlets, fleet managers and independent garages,” said said John Cooper, vice president of Ford Customer Service Division.