Ford Motor Co. wants Ford Pro auto retailers to invest in commercial-focused facilities with larger service bays and expanded hours to boost the profitability of fixed operations.
The auto manufacturer wants its dealership network to open 120 Elite Commercial Service Centers, each of which have at least 24 service bays for Class 1-7 vehicles, operate at least five mobile service vans, and be open 72+ hours, six days a week. The move should reduce vehicle downtime for commercial customers when maintenance is needed on their vehicles.
“This announcement is an extension of Ford Pro’s dedication to providing a one-stop shop for customers to improve productivity, lower cost of ownership and increase uptime,” says Tim Baughman, general manager of Ford Pro North America. “We have 150,000 commercial and government fleet customers—small, medium and large—and one of their biggest priorities is keeping their vehicles on the road.”
The first such facility opened in Minnesota in January. Two more centers will follow in the next two months.
Baughman told Automotive News in an interview that over 120 dealers have signed letters of intent to invest in the facilities. Ford will now review the dealerships showing interest, using data and analytics, to target dealers in markets with enough business to support such commercial service operations, he added.
Facility costs will vary by dealer, Baughman said. Automotive News reported two retailers estimated their costs at around $9 million and $15 million, respectively.
Baughman declined to say how much financial help Ford will give dealers. A memo sent to retailers in February reportedly said Ford would provide up to $250,000 for a small subset of dealers who convert existing buildings to Elite facilities if they complete the work by the end of 2023. The memo also allegedly said the company would provide additional financial assistance of up to $300,000 if a dealer adds more service bays.
It has been reported the memo also set standards for the centers. For example, Elite facilities must have:
- Service doors that are at least 14 feet tall,
- Four bays designated for medium-duty vehicles,
- Four bays for express service, and
- At least two mobile service vans operating within 30 days of signing a letter of understanding with three additional vans available upon facility certification.
Mobile vans allow dealers to do lighter, simpler maintenance jobs in the field and focus their bays on higher-margin work, according to Baughman.
Ford dealerships currently operate 900 mobile service vans with a goal of deploying 2,100 by the end of 2023.