Ford may have come through the automotive implosion relatively unscathed, but that doesn't mean the company isn't still trying to trim its costs. According to Automotive News, Ford wants to consolidate its dealer network by closing the doors on some 300 lots. The reason? While the automotive market is slowly improving, no one expects to see the kind of buying levels enjoyed before 2009 anytime soon. As a result, Ford wants to boost the profitability of its dealer network by reducing the number o
In addition to making its vehicles more efficient, Ford wants to help its dealers cut down their energy use and has teamed up with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI, more information here) to make it happen. At the National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in Orlando, FL this weekend, Ford announced a voluntary dealership sustainability program.
In 2006, Ford began to shrink its dealership network in order to more efficiently align its distribution network. Three years later, it appears that the hardest hit are the company's stand-alone Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. While there were 619 Lincoln-Mercury dealerships nationwide just a few years ago, the number had dwindled down to just 357 at the beginning of 2009.
Ford's dealer development program works to help people become dealer principles who might not otherwise have the chance. The 64 members of the program, most of them black or Hispanic, are set up with stores by Ford and then buy out Ford's interest in the dealership with revenues. To give them a boost and, presumably, free up Ford money, Automotive News is reporting that Ford is offering dealers in the program an offer they'll have a hard time refusing: complete ownership of their stores for $1.
Ford has a dealer development program aimed at helping those who lack up-front capital open a dealership. The dealer pays Ford back with profits from the business, and slowly buys out Ford's stake. There are 81 dealers in the program now, 62 of which are minorities who the program was originally intended to aid, and Ford has offered to buy all of them out by returning the dealer's full investment.