The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Ford Fleet Realigns with Focus on the Customers

June 2007, by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

Effective May 1, Ford Fleet’s Commercial & Government Operations rolled out a realigned organization to make customer service even better. The restructuring was part of Ford Motor Company’s overall efforts to align its structure with volume and market share moving forward.

“We set out to achieve several objectives as we went through the restructuring process,” said John Ruppert, general manager commercial & government operations.

“We wanted to eliminate inefficiencies created as we added account managers intermittently over the past several years. According to Ruppert, account manager territory boundaries were re-established to create a more even distribution across the country, promoting greater productivity and organizational efficiency.

About two years ago, Ford Fleet pilot-tested this strategic organization model throughout the Northeast. The outcome was a huge success.

“Our strategy sought to eliminate geographic inefficiencies and improve customer interface time. It has produced very positive results, so we put it into place throughout the rest of the country,” said Ruppert.

Customer Ratios Improved
In the commercial sales organization, Ford improved customer-to-account manager ratios and reduced the organization’s variability in the number of accounts per manager.

About 18 months ago, Ford established a select account manager position primarily responsible for interfacing with small fleet customers. “As we move forward, the select account managers will be a key part of our continuing efforts with small fleets,” said Ruppert.

Ford’s Commercial Vehicle Operations, responsible for service support, experienced minimal change in structure.

“Going forward, our customers will be supported by five fleet service managers located in our regional hubs. These five managers will have fleet service zone managers reporting to them,” Ruppert said.

Another important consideration of Ford Fleet’s restructuring involved its interface with fleet management companies.

“This is an important part of our business because such a large percentage of our commercial volume goes through a fleet management company,” Ruppert said.

The team of people working with fleet management companies stays intact. In addition, the commercial fleet customer information center (FCIC) is unchanged, and Ford’s account team dedicated to limo and livery car industry also continues with no changes.

The structure of Ford Fleet’s government sales team experienced minor changes. Five account managers will be responsible for state and local business and one account manager for federal.

Part of Overall NAFLRO Plan
The changes in Commercial & Government Operations are part of an overall restructuring plan for North American Fleet, Lease & Remarketing Operations (NAFLRO). These changes include:

  • The Rental and Remarketing teams were merged into one business unit under the direction of general manager Linda Silverstein. “Combining these functions is a natural because they work so closely managing the sale, repurchase, and remarketing of our rental vehicles. We have also worked hard to develop an auction footprint that aligns with our rental strategy going foward."
  • Ford’s Commercial Truck organization under the direction of Joe Castelli has been brought into NAFLRO. Commercial truck is the main interface with the commercial fleet dealer network. This realignment provides numerous synergies and efficiencies and allows Ford to manage all fleet activities, regardless of size, type, or profile under one organization, NAFLRO.

    From an overall standpoint, NAFLRO is committed to continuing a focus on the customer and business partners that they have grown to expect over the years,” Ruppert said. “Our goal is to improve their satisfaction level as we move forward.”

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