Ford aims to disrupt its aftermarket competitors – Automotive News (subscription) (blog)

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2017

Ford Motor Co. is pursuing two fixed-operations initiatives designed to work together: a new brand of replacement parts for non-Ford and non-Lincoln vehicles, and a renewed effort to persuade its dealers to build Quick Lane service centers. 

With the new Omnicraft brand, Ford wants to sell more parts at its dealerships and to independent repair shops and distributors. At first, independents will have to buy Omnicraft parts from franchised dealerships with wholesale parts operations. Eventually, though, Ford plans to sell parts directly to independents.

Ford started shipping Omnicraft parts last month, says Brett Wheatley, executive director of Ford’s customer service division in North America. Aside from selling more parts, Ford expects Omnicraft to help the company make new-vehicle conquests, Wheatley told Fixed Ops Journal.

For dealers, Omnicraft is intended to be a more convenient and less expensive source of parts for other makes and models. Dealers say they already buy plenty of parts for competing makes, to recondition trade-ins and to service used vehicles. 

But Ford and Lincoln dealers previously had to buy those parts from outside suppliers. Ordering parts from Ford Motor should be cheaper and more efficient, Wheatley says. 

“We’re delivering parts every day,” he says. “That’s really a big advantage for dealers. Instead of going down the street to some third party, who may or may not have the part you need, it’s on your own shelf.” 

Alan Chan, owner of Babbitt Ford in Flagstaff, Ariz., agrees that Omnicraft offers an opportunity to Ford and Lincoln dealers. “It’s a natural fit,” Chan says.

Bob Cawley is fixed operations director of Horne Auto Group in Gilbert, Ariz., which operates nine dealerships in Arizona, including two Ford stores. He says there’s nothing new about Ford dealerships aiming to service all models of used vehicles. 

But the idea of aggressively pursuing service business with other brands is new, Cawley adds. He says he’s concerned that dealerships have their hands full with service work for Ford and Lincoln vehicles, let alone adding other makes. 

“Most stores are having trouble keeping up as it is,” Cawley says. 

Ford is launching Omnicraft with 1,500 commonly requested parts, such as oil filters, brake pads and rotors, struts, starters and alternators. Eventually, Ford says, it will make available as many as 10,000 parts. 

“Our challenge is to begin to compete with the independent repair shops and the retail outlets,” said Frederiek Toney, president of Global Ford Customer Service. 

“We’re going to be very competitive from a price standpoint,” Toney said. “We have the distribution network to do it, so why not? Instead of everyone disrupting us, let’s go disrupt them.”

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