For this month’s OE certification profile, we spoke with Ford’s Lisa Fournier, Collision Product Manager, and Dean Bruce, Collision Marketing Manager.
ABN: Does your program have a specific name? When was it started?
Ford: Our program started in 2014 as, more or less, an internal program for Ford and Lincoln dealers only. We wanted our dealers with body shops to be “aluminum-capable” with the proper tools, equipment, a separate area for aluminum repair and so forth. This was all handled internally with our national staff and our own field personnel. Eventually, we knew we had to expand it, so in 2015 it became the Ford National Body Shop Network. This gave us a more public presence.
ABN: What is the main purpose of the program?
Ford: The main purpose is to assist consumers with the ability to identify a Certified Repair Provider that possesses the proper tools, equipment, facilities and trained staff required to repair automobiles to manufacturers’ specifications ensuring the fit, finish, durability, value and safety of the vehicle.
ABN: What are the program requirements?
Ford: There is a comprehensive list of requirements. For space and brevity, we will highlight some of the most important [ones]. First, the shop must meet certain business requirements, like being in business for at least five years or having a valid credit rating. They must also have Garage Keepers Insurance, have an electronic p-pages estimating system and offer customers a limited lifetime warranty on their work. The shop must be customer-centric, use a third-party CSI system and utilize a rental car provider. The shop must be I-CAR Gold Class or equivalent, have a frame rack, spray booth and the ability to access OE repair procedures and document the same. The shop must have a couple of specific welders and must be able to document that someone is trained on their use. There is an additional list of requirements for those shops that wish to be approved for aluminum repair.
ABN: What are the program benefits?
Ford: Ford’s national network of certified dealer-owned and independent body shops helps ensure that consumers have a certified choice should they need to get their Ford vehicle repaired. The consumer still has a choice, but now they have a complete national blanket of certified body shops to choose from. This coverage creates the basis for a Consumer Referral Program (CRP). With national coverage, Ford can promote collision care providers based upon quality, safety and proper repairs. This is especially critical with the introduction of the F150 and Super Duties; built with an innovative, high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body. Shops with the right tools, equipment, training and modified facilities can distinguish themselves from those that do not have what it takes. Some of the benefits for Ford-certified dealer-owned and independent body shops are:
• Leverage Ford Brand: Official Ford-Certified signage • Official Ford Certification badges to promote and market the shop through use in marketing, advertising, social media, online and recruiting
• Collision Care Marketing Tools: Access to a suite of Collision Care marketing materials to differentiate Certified Collision Repair Business from local competition, including press releases and Official Ford Certification signage.
• Online Shop Locators & Appointment Requests: Benefit from being listed on multiple locators, including: Ford’s Consumer & Owner-Certified Shop Locators, Assured Performance’s Consumer & Insurance-Certified Shop Locators, Ford’s & Assured Performance’s Consumer Collision Care Smartphone Apps
• Ford Owner Marketing: Your Certified Collision Repair Business will be marketed as a preferred repair provider by Ford Motor Company to its consumers. This includes: Digital Display, Online Videos, 1:1 Owner Communications
• Ford Vehicle Owner Referrals: On-Demand Marketing, new vehicle owner referrals, insurer referrals, etc.
• Ford Collision Consumer Education: Ford’s consumer education marketing highlights the importance of using OEM parts and a Ford-Certified Collision Repair location.
• Business Improvement: Process and feedback to ensure your shop continues to have what it takes to properly repair the new generation of Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
ABN: What shops are eligible?
Ford: Any Ford dealer-owned or independent body shop that meets the general certification requirements and the Ford aluminum-specific requirements are eligible.
ABN: Are any shops specifically ineligible?
Ford: Dealer body shops that are non-Ford branded that are on non-Ford dealer sites are not eligible to be in the Ford National Body Shop Network. Any shop that does not meet the general certification requirements or the additional Ford aluminum requirements will not be eligible for the Ford National Body Shop Network.
ABN: Must an independent shop be sponsored by a dealer? (If so, has that caused any problems?)
Ford: Yes, all body shops that want to enroll in the Ford National Body Shop Network must have a Ford dealer sponsor. This requirement has not caused any issues to date.
ABN: Do you have any program partners such as Axalta, VeriFacts, Summit, Assured Performance or other? If so, what role do they play?
Ford: Yes, Assured Performance is our partner and they handle all the shop audits and the logistics. Once an audit has been completed and any gaps identified, Assured Performance follows up with the shop until the gaps have been satisfied.