Local car columnist Ed Wallace seems like a friendly curmudgeon. This week, he writes about Ford’s CEO Allan Mulally and his adventures at Village Ford (back in Dearborn). Wallace rightfully takes on the “hero CEO” image that the Ford P.R. folks are apparently trying to create. That seems to go against the Lean and Toyota mindset, but Mulally has a tough enough job ahead without us nitpicking (and it’s not even worth the bother to nitpick his paycheck, or Mark Fields’).
From the Wallace column:
“Four cars (almost) in 40 minutes. That’s the Alan Mulally sales tally at Village Ford in Dearborn.” â€” Automotive News, March 28, 2007 “I’d say ‘Hi, I’m Alan. I’m from Ford. I’m just helping out today.’ I got so close to one family …”
â€” Alan Mulally, from the same article
Here we go again: PR campaigns being sold as real news, as the new head of the Ford Motor Company innocently and unintentionally manages to insult everyone who has ever tried to earn a living in the automobile industry by selling cars. The only humorous aspect to this story is that it ran in a respected automotive publication, the Automotive News, to which every new car dealer in this country probably subscribes.
It’s humorous because I doubt sincerely that any dealer, reading that Ford CEO Alan Mulally dropped by Village Ford in Dearborn for a mere 40 minutes and made three sales (and has another pending), did anything but roll his eyes and groan at that outrageous claim. Why? Because even at the best-run dealerships it often takes 10 minutes just to find the keys to the particular automobile that the customer is interested in purchasing.
The article also invites a pertinent question: Why, if Mr. Mulally can easily sell four cars in 40 minutes, didn’t he stay at the dealership all day earning new customers for Ford? After all, the owner of Village Ford probably would have appreciated the additional 72 more sales on that one day.
Wallace also takes a slap at Bill Ford:
Reading these stories reminded me of a Fortune magazine cover from many years ago, during Bill Ford’s ascendancy at his great-grandfather’s firm. It was a close-up of Ford sporting stylish sunglasses, under a title blaring, “Motown Cool.” One has to wonder what, exactly, is “cool” about nearly destroying one of America’s great automotive companies in less than half a decade.
At least Ford was only drawing a $1 salary. My thought is that we need fewer “hero CEO’s” and more effort and focus on improving processes, improving quality, engaging employees (and dealers), and taking care of the customer.
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