Ford’s Frederiek Toney on elevating customer service

I am the former Chair of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. What I learned there was that if we look at the path from kindergarten to high school, our country has problems. What does it take to get kids into STEM? Science, technology, engineering, math? Companies like ours and others in the industry are really pursuing this and are naturally interested in working with their hands. It takes a concerted effort to get kids who have a disability into tech jobs.

I’m not trying to blame anyone, but I suspect that school counselors deserve just as much credit when it comes to identifying kids who want to go to college versus kids who want to go to college. There is no recruitment from the department. One of the things she can do with dealers going forward is give them the tools and the background so they can get to these city centers and help fill this pipeline. .

We need to identify those children, understand how to nurture their interests, and have a deeper understanding. Something needs to be done by all her OEMs to revitalize their tech pipeline. What is happening now is that we are just stealing from each other.

What else is Ford doing to help dealers fill these empty tech jobs?

We have created 26 technical placement specialists on the field today and have worked with all of our dealers to establish technician retention, recruitment and succession planning. That’s the plan that’s important to us. And every dealer has a roadmap to grow her technology more than twice a year over the next three years. Over the next 24 months, he needs to increase the number of engineers by 6,000.

As the industry moves from the internal combustion era to EVs, the image of the automotive technician is changing from greasy and filthy to computer diagnostics expert. Will the change in the image of engineers help hiring? And does it allow more women to get into it?

Absolutely yes and should be. The way we talk about technicians is, quite frankly, like car engineers. In fact, they spend more time using their laptops to solve upcoming problems than turning wrenches.

Should manufacturers reconsider their flat-rate strategies for the EV era?

absolutely. The way dealers pay a flat rate and the way experienced techs have managed this space that works so well over the years means that new techs are very disadvantaged early in their careers So we have to look at all the elements of technician salaries and, frankly, the whole financial infrastructure around how we run our stores to be a little more creative. You have to treat them, evaluate them, and make sure they get their fair share of the spoils. At this point, given the role they play and their importance, I’m not sure there is a consistent way to really, really reward and pay them according to their value and contribution.

If dealers are independent businessmen, can Ford lead the change, or is this something dealers need to take the lead?

It is important that we work together. So we have to share our vision. As mentioned earlier, focusing on the customer—focusing on what they need around them—capacity and the right technical talent to complete the repair—leads to technicians. Therefore, factories, dealers and retailers should work together to solve this dilemma.

Is there a place for Quicklane stores in the EV era?

Quicklane will thrive for years to come. Although there may be some changes, we are ideally positioned to provide convenient services in the future. Tires, for example, will become like commodities. They are replaced more frequently with heavier EVs. And it’s the gateway to all other services. There’s no reason Quicklane stores can’t be an integral part of it. In the near future, we will see both gasoline and electric vehicles. I plan to serve both.

In the EV era, powertrain maintenance will definitely be necessary. Gears, seals, bearings, etc. will break. Individual cells in the battery pack fail. But will EV powertrain repairs look any different than it does today – will the technician actually work on his EV components, or just replace the entire system?

Consumables must be replaced. There will never be a substitute for it. But with rapidly changing technology, the big question is how much a battery is worth and how to maintain it or whether it can be repaired. Batteries are very heavy and require different equipment and different capabilities to handle them. The big question is how does he OEM handle repairs when the battery fails. Do automakers have dealers open the packs and replace just the defective cells, or do they just have the dealers replace the whole pack? becomes an important factor.

Guardrails will eventually be established to allow these repairs to be managed in a seamless and efficient manner. But I think it’s going to be a bit of a storm before returning to some sort of normalcy in that regard. And whichever wins, you have to think about maintainability and build the infrastructure to support it. We have a pretty good sense of what it is. And part of this content is sensitive, so I won’t say much more than that. However, we think we’re making good progress in the game and ready for it.

Ford was one of the first mass market automakers to deploy OTA. ——– Over-the-air updates. What is your experience so far? Has it impacted the dealer’s ability to do the inspection?

we learned some things. Although we work with the Ford Dealer Council, our focus is always on our customers. Interested in creating uptime. So whatever is most efficient for that customer will ultimately lead to success for the day.

It doesn’t matter how we are made up today. It doesn’t matter about our relationship. After all, we have to focus on our customers. I mean, we all have to get creative and find a way OTA works, and frankly, if it proves to be, find other avenues to generate revenue. be the best method. The winner is always the one who provides the best service to the customer, makes the customer the most convenient, and creates the most value.

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