The National Automobile Dealers Association in August finished a survey that earlier asked Ford dealers what they thought of the automaker's controversial Blue Oval Certification program. The NADA had hoped to present the survey results to Ford Motor Co.
But NADA Chairman Robert Maguire says Ford executives show no interest in the survey. Ford Division President Jim O'Connor, in a letter to Mr. Maguire, says NADA was “out of bounds” for conducting it, according to Mr. Maguire. “He said they don't even want to hear the results of it.”
Mr. Maguire says he then asked Ralph Seekins, the incoming chairman of the National Ford Dealer Council, for assistance in getting Ford executives to meet with NADA and look at the results. But Mr. Seekins backed off, telling Mr. Maguire the survey is dated.
That puzzled Mr. Maguire. He says of Mr. Seekins “He's the guy who told us we should present it to Jim O'Connor. Something happened between then and now.”
Mr. Seekins tells Ward's Dealer Business, “I've seen the results from the survey and they're not devastating, nor is there anything new. Ford already knows what its dealers are saying about the program.”
Moreover, the Ford dealer council leadership is unhappy that the NADA did the survey.
“It sets a bad precedence,” says Jerry Reynolds, current council chairman. “I certainly don't want NADA conducting a survey of Ford dealers every time a controversial issue comes up.”
Mr. Reynolds also was unhappy with the survey's methodology. He says, “There wasn't any control I could see as to who answered the questions. Dealers from other brands could have completed the survey.”
Mr. Seekins says some questions were open-ended. “The results were an accurate snapshot of the time it was taken,” he acknowledges. But he adds, “What was true then is not true now. We've made significant changes since then.”
Mr. Maguire says NADA hasn't released the survey results, calling it an “internal matter.”
Mr. Seekins says, “The two organizations need to work together. We have to be careful we don't cross each other's charters.”
For more on the Blue Oval controversy, see story on page 16.