Ford of Britain is in the process of implementing 84 new Parts Plus Centres offering components directly to independent repairers. In addition to supplying Ford and Motorcraft parts, Parts Plus will provide access to the automaker’s new Omnicraft line, which includes “highly competitive products and prices” for all of the major vehicle models sold in the UK, according to Carlos Ovilo, Ford of Britain’s customer service director.
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The Parts Plus Centres will have defined customer-focused territories and improved service levels. The first outlet opens this summer, “with each Parts Plus Centre selected and created to ensure there is customer service continuity from the current Ford dealer partners.”
Designed to meet the specific needs of professional repairers, the parts will be supplied through a reliable and regular distribution service. “Based on local business knowledge, customers can expect friendly and helpful advice from product experts and take advantage of an ongoing marketing program,” he reports.
Customers will also receive a wide range of benefits including technical support on how to repair Ford vehicles and marketing advice on how to grow their businesses in an increasingly complex and competitive market.
“Providing all customers with a professional and dedicated service is a key priority, and this exciting initiative enables us to move our already successful wholesale offering to the next level,” says Ovilo, who recently responded to a series of questions posed by Aftermarket Business World:
Q: What are some of the particulars of the Parts Plus launch?
A: Parts Plus Centres will be dedicated trade parts sales operations. The rollout will be progressive through the balance of the year and into the beginning of 2019. The Centres will be launched from both existing and new sites depending on the specific requirements and capabilities in each area.
Q: Which markets are being covered?
A: Parts Plus will be UK-wide – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; there are no current plans to extend to other countries.
Q: Are the Parts Plus Centres solely selling parts to repairers? Or do they also include service bays?
A: Parts Plus is a trade proposition selling parts only to vehicle repairers. As a parts-only proposition there is no requirement for shop equipment.
Q: Are you seeking additional suppliers?
A: This is a new channel for selling existing product so there is no immediate opportunity here.
Q: How large are the locations?
A: The Centres will be small distribution sites in the range of 5,000 sq-ft to 10,000 sq-ft.
Q: Are the Parts Plus Centres associated with/connected to Ford dealerships, or are they separate entities?
A: They will be separate operating entities, but may operate from suitable existing dealer premises.
Q: What is the Omnicraft line, and how does it benefit repairers?
A: The Omnicraft range is the first new parts brand offered by Ford in more than 40 years, and, along with Ford Original Parts and Ford Motorcraft, finally completes the Ford family of parts.
When the range is complete Omnicraft will offer a comprehensive portfolio of fast-moving maintenance and light repair parts for non-Ford makes. The new all-makes range is perfect for price-sensitive replacements, making Ford a convenient and trusted one-stop shop for servicing and mechanical repairs.
The 1,500 most commonly requested parts are now available and include oil filters, brake pads and rotors, loaded struts, and starters and alternators. The list of available parts will eventually grow to 10,000 for even more customer convenience.
Q: Where are the Centres typically being located?
A: The Centres will be sited to provide excellent service to the customer base and will mainly be in urban areas.
Q: Are they being constructed new from the ground-up, or are some being opened in existing structures?
A: The Centres will be in both existing and new facilities. Whilst some changes may be required in existing sites, new sites will be chosen on the basis that minimal adjustments will be required.
Q: Are your parts also being marketed to do-it-yourselfers?
A: While not a target customer group, parts sales to do-it-yourselfers will be available for purchase by DIY customers for collection at the Parts Plus site; deliveries will only be made to registered trade customers.
Q: Is there a shortage of repair shops and parts stores in the UK?
A: The market is fully catered in terms of repair capacity. This initiative provides a new sales channel for Genuine parts.
Q: Is parts distribution to the shops being handled by Ford, or are you using independent distributors? If so, are you seeking additional distributors?
A: Distribution to independent repairers will be handled by sales agents, all of whom have been identified. The agents will operate the Parts Plus sites on behalf of Ford, but they are not distributors as you might understand.
The agent only provides the operational functions of parts storage, handling and sale on behalf of Ford, but does not own or sell the parts on their own behalf. The arrangement is more similar to a third-party logistics provider combined with a sales agent. This is still subject to contract.
Q: What types of technical training and marketing advice is Ford providing? How much does it cost?
A: Details of both these elements, together with any charges, will be published during the launch.
Q: How does Parts Plus differ from Ford’s existing TrustFirst Parts program?
A: TrustFirst Parts is the parts division of Ford Retail – the Ford-owned UK dealer group. Parts Plus is a Ford business selling direct to repairers via agents.
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