SYNC SPARKING SALES, SATISFYING CUSTOMERS
By John Fossen, FCN
DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 2, 2008 -- In 26 years of selling cars and trucks, Ken Venema says he has never seen a feature impress customers like Ford's SYNCTM.
"I must have a half-dozen sales because of SYNC. I strongly believe that," said Venema, a sales consultant at Pfeiffer Lincoln Mercury in Grand Rapids, Mich. "I'm sold on it. And I'm sure glad Ford's got it."
The dealership even switched its radio spots recently from advertising price to promoting SYNC.
"I am using (SYNC) as a showroom builder. I am pumped on it because it's something that we can offer the market that doesn't focus on price, and it's something we have that our competitors don't," said Kim Winkler, new car sales manager, Pfeiffer Lincoln Mercury.
SYNC, Ford's industry-exclusive technology that provides customers in-vehicle voice command compatibility with portable digital media players and most Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, is helping drive vehicles sales across the country.
SYNC-equipped Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles were moving more than twice as fast off dealer lots in November than those same vehicles without SYNC. And customer satisfaction is high.
According to a Ford survey of SYNC customers, nearly 80 percent of respondents "definitely would" recommend it to a friend. Microsoft, which collaborated with Ford on the technology, was very encouraged.
"It's early in SYNC's launch -- we'll know more about its impact in a few months -- but so far all indicators are extraordinarily positive," explained John Emmert, SYNC marketing manager, Ford Motor Company.
The survey also revealed that most customers thought SYNC was easy to use, and that dealers were helpful in explaining and demonstrating the new technology.
Sales consultant Everton McLeod of Manhattan (N.Y.) Ford says extensive in-dealership training prior to SYNC'S launch was very beneficial.
"It wasn't like they just told us about it. Everybody had to do something -- pair a phone, dial a number -- so the instructor could see that we actually grasped what he taught us," said McLeod.
SYNC is also hitting its targeted customers, which include a savvy, tech-toting younger demographic as well as an older group that likes the convenience of hands-free mobile phone operation.
Emmert says Ford employees frequently stop him at work to relate stories about SYNC's ability to raise awareness and purchase consideration for the company's products among relatives and friends who swore off domestic vehicles years ago.
"When you think about a feature having the power to put Ford back on customers' shopping lists, it's pretty impressive," he said.
SYNC currently is offered on 12 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. The first SYNC-equipped vehicles, including the redesigned 2008 Ford Focus, began reaching customers in late September. When offered as an option, the system is priced at $395.