Few owners relish taking time out of their day to drive over to a car dealership for routine maintenance. Imagine, instead, the convenience of having technicians show up at your home or office and service your car on location. That's exactly what Ford is currently trying with a pilot program called Mobile Service at a handful of dealerships in California.
The idea is simple: Ford has specially outfittedwith everything a technician would need for most basic services, including a full array of tools and the parts needed for the services scheduled. The vans are set up for things like oil changes, battery changes, software updates, tire changes and brake jobs. Customers would schedule a service appointment ahead of time and the van would drive to them -- potentially saving time customers would have spent sitting in a service bay's waiting room.
The benefit to a dealership is twofold, Jason Sprawka, Ford director of customer experience in North America, told journalists at a preview Wednesday: The dealership can increase the amount it's earning on service and free up technicians and service bays at the dealer. The company also suggests the service might attract buyers from other brands.
Ford has some experience with this type of service, as the company has been operating a small fleet of mobile service vans for commercial vehicles in the UK since 2017. Tesla also runs a that, like Ford's trial, provides some services remotely.
The Mobile Service program would be separate from Ford's existing roadside assistance program. Technicians involved would receive extra training on face-to-face customer service, the company says. At a normal service bay, a service writer is the go-between for customers and technicians -- but with the Mobile Service van, the tech must do everything from greeting to accepting payments.
After the initial trial in California, Ford plans to expand the Mobile Service pilot program to other dealers in Texas, Illinois, New Jersey and Florida. Ford says it "will decide later" whether to expand the program further based on results.
Just like, the Mobile Service program is all about improving the experience for Ford's owners -- hopefully keeping them happier with their purchases and thus within the company's ecosystem for longer. "It's all about making life for our customers simpler and worry-free," said Elena Ford, the automaker's chief customer experience officer.
It's also a way for Ford to counter the stereotype that dealer services are "inconvenient and expensive," said Frederiek Toney, president of Ford's customer service division.