Automobile

Ford dealer all-in on new order process

A number of changes across the dealership were required, he said. Gaudin Ford enabled electronic signatures so customers didn’t need to visit the store to place an order. The dealership hired a website vendor to create a page allowing customers to order a vehicle without having to leave the website.

Gilligan said success with the new process would not have been possible without buy-in from employees. Gaudin Ford introduced a pay plan that offers a bonus to sales employees for each order taken. That’s in addition to the regular commission they earn on the sale of a vehicle when a customer takes delivery, sometimes months later. The goal of the incentive is to prevent employees from prioritizing customers who can close a deal the same day with a vehicle in stock, Gilligan said.

One of the most critical changes has been giving dealership employees visibility into every order placed.

Gaudin Ford reworked its new-vehicle inventory manager position and moved its Internet manager into the new role, giving her oversight into the retail ordering process, Gilligan said. She created spreadsheets that track customer information and the status of an order, then shared them with sales employees so they could communicate updates to their customers. This holds sales representatives accountable to stay in touch with their customers, he added.

Ford has taken notice. The automaker says Gaudin Ford stands out in its 59-store Phoenix region, which covers Arizona, New Mexico and southern Nevada.

“Gaudin Ford was one of the first in the region to adopt a comprehensive strategy around retail orders, has originated a number of best practices and consistently ranks ‘near’ the top of the region in retail order metrics, including verified retail orders submitted and sales (volume and percentage) resulting from retail orders,” Ford spokeswoman Cathleen O’Hare told Automotive News via email.

Gaudin Ford had to change customer mindsets about the ordering process, as many Americans are used to selecting a vehicle from hundreds on a dealership lot at any given time, Gilligan said. One approach has been to send marketing messaging about ordering custom vehicles.

Dealership employees explain to customers that if they can wait to install some accessories, such as a certain trailer hitch or bedliner, they can get their keys faster, he said. They talk to lease customers about ordering their next vehicle nine months ahead of when they are scheduled to turn in their current one. They pitch build-to-order if a customer can’t find what he or she wants on the lot.

“This has absolutely transformed the way we do business,” Gilligan said.

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