Right, so Ford has this new parts delivery service called Hot Shot that aims to get parts to repair shops and customers really fast. But don’t car companies and second tier parts suppliers already do this? I thought they already did, but I could be wrong.
As both my loyal readers know, I’ve got this friend Carl who runs a repair shop in Seattle. I have spent a lot of time hanging out at his shop. I mean a lot. He’s a great guy, and even though my cars don’t need that much work, I’m always up for swinging by to say hello and see how he’s doing.
More often then not, he’s turning a wrench, talking things over with the two other mechanics – Brian and Jerry – on the phone keeping the schedule full, and in the front office dealing with customers (this involves everything from happily getting a bill paid to painfully explaining simple mechanical principles like, “no, just cause I changed your wiper blades last month, that has nothing to do with that grinding noise coming from your transmission” (and no, I am not making that up)).
Or, as is the case with our story today, dealing with parts deliveries.
Usually, parts, by way of a dealer’s parts department show up three to four times a day – first thing in the morning, some time around lunch or some time in the late afternoon. In addition to the constant stream of customers coming and going, tool truck guys coming and going, uniform trucks coming and going, and schmoes like me clogging up the works, there seems to always be a parts delivery person (usually very competent and very cheery and positive) dropping off everything from camshaft gasket kits that could fit in an envelope, to entire rebuilt Subaru engines.
So what’s so different about Ford’s Hot Shot parts delivery deal?
Essentially, Ford’s Hot Shot parts delivery works more like a pizza restaurant than a catering kitchen. Normal, non-Hot Shot parts are sent out on a schedule, the aforementioned first thing in the morning, some time around lunch, or some time in the late afternoon. Hot Shot takes a shop or customer’s specific individual order and then gets the parts winging their way fast. Fast as in Hot Shot express parts delivery orders from Ford are fulfilled within two hours. As an example, the Village Ford dealership in Dearborn, Michigan commonly receives 20 to 30 Hot Shot orders per day.
Ford is quick to point out their Hot Shot express parts delivery is not new. Growth of the program shows dealers have no problem adjusting to the changing needs of consumers; the number of dealers offering Hot Shot has grown to more than 300 in recent years.
“These deliveries are going to 40 different customers including other dealers and independent shops,” said Andrew Kochan, Parts Manager, Village Ford. “All are pleased with the service and many are amazed by our dedication to helping them better serve their customers.”
Increased acceptance of Hot Shot with dealers is the latest example of how Ford aims to improve customer service. Another example comes from earlier this year when Ford introduced a service kiosk program that allows customers to pick up and drop off vehicles and pay for repairs 24/7. And then Ford’s launch of the Omnicraft line, replacement parts for all makes of non-Ford vehicles.
So, could this new pizza-style parts delivery system actually work? Time will tell. It seems to be cutting real close to the bone of the ratio of satisfied customers divided by the costs of gas. If the numbers work, and Ford can keep everyone satisfied without blowing the profits on fleet costs, then expect to see others adapt this delivery model.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.