Monday, April 4, 2011

Chapter Five
Data Collection Plan
Objective One. This is to increase car sales by ten percent and overall vehicle sales by fifteen percent or more.
Hypothesis 1. Motor Company can sell more cars and trucks by scaling back on equipment that adds cost to the vehicle as opposed to value.
Hypothesis 2. Ford can sell at ten percent more units of the Focus model by introducing the international version of the car to the United States and Canada.
Hypothesis 3. Car sales can also be increased if Ford reintroduces the Fiesta, one of the most successful models to date, to the United States and Canada.
Objective Two. The second is to improve customer satisfaction and retention.
Hypothesis 1. Customer retention would improve if Ford responded objectively to warranty claims; hiring an outside firm to evaluate such claims.
Hypothesis 2. Ford’s customers would be more willing to buy their products again if they would evaluate designs of vehicle parts that fail at a higher rate than what is industry standard, even if the part is not under warranty, or the customers’ fault.
Objective Three. It is not enough to retain customers for Ford; they need to add new ones.
Hypothesis 1. Ford can attract more new customers by improving warranty service to present customers.
Hypothesis 2. By adding options which add value and not just cost to the vehicle, Ford can attract new customers to their products.
Hypothesis 3. Providing more choices, by selling lower end vehicles on dealers’ lots, and making more options dealer installed and making the higher end vehicles special order, time and space on the lot permitting, will attract new customers because they have more vehicles to choose from, rather than just what is on the lot.
Hypothesis 4. Providing more choices in car lines and less in the line of trucks will attract more value-conscious and environment-conscious consumers back to Ford.
Data Collection Plan
Much of what is going to be done is not going to be easy, or possible to translate into objective data that Ford can utilize. The only objective data which Ford is going to be able to rely on is whether or not sales have increased the ten or fifteen percent and customer perception, retention and attraction have improved for the firm. Many websites have many negative attributes to be said about any automaker, a trait not unique to Ford. Even such touted firms as Toyota and Honda have had their share of reliability and service problems. It is the nature of any electromechanical device to fail and the only difference can be how the manufacturer or dealer chooses to rectify, or ignore the problems customers perceive.
Ford Motor Company uses much time and resources to predict what customers want and will spend money on. For reasons known to them, much of their product line consists of trucks, even to this day. They are planning on adding one car model in 2011, but this does not solve the problems they face now.
Rather than concentrating on a data collection plan during and after the interventions, it would be better to evaluate customer attitudes toward what they are willing to buy at present and work toward implementing the interventions then. There are methods to do this already in place. One is through Ford’s website when customers choose the options they want. However, they still need to negotiate their way through the packages and either pay for the options they do not want, or settle for less than they want. Ford can collect data on desired options through their website, as this would be the most cost-effective way. To prevent tampering by automated sources, the usual codes that only human beings can read can be utilized. Due to poverty of time, there should be a small incentive that will not affect or sway the customer to buy from Ford by the survey alone, albeit this will be difficult to perform.
Such a process is not possible to describe in great detail in such a medium as this paper, but the focus of such a plan must involve seeing what the customer wants. After all, regardless of the economy, or credit availability, customers will not spend large sums of money on what they believe to an inferior product, or poor customer service on any product.
The following questionnaire can be used in some form either through mailers, Ford’s website and even in showrooms. It is not going to be inclusive of every reason, or solution to ford reduced sales, but it will give an idea of customer attitudes so Ford can best use their resources.

Ford Vehicle Response Survey

Please circle the answers that apply, this survey will help to better address the needs of our customers.

1 Are you considering replacing your current vehicle?
Now 3 months 6 months 1 year > 1 year
2 Are you considering a new vehicle purchase? If no, please skip to question 14
Yes No
3 What make of vehicle are you considering?
Ford Toyota GM Honda Chrysler
Smart Hyundai Subaru Volkswagen Other
4 What factors will influence your decision?
Reliability Service Style Value Other
5 Have you owned a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury product in the last ?
1-3 Years 4-6 Years >6 years
6 What is the make of vehicle you currently own?
Ford Toyota GM Honda Chrysler
Hyundai Kia Volkswagen Subaru Other
7 Why are you considering replacing your vehicle?
Age Reliability Life changes Want more options
Condition Unhappy with dealer and/or manufacturer
8 If considering a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury, which model?
Focus Fusion MKS F-Series Navigator
Explorer Flex Mustang Mariner Other
9 What options are most important to you? Please check all that apply.
SYNC Navigation THX Sound Ambient lighting
Automatic transmission Leather seating areas
cruise control DVD MP3 Sirius Satellite Radio
10 If you are considering a car, what are the reasons? Please check all that apply.
Safety Value Ease of parking, driving, etc
Do not want a truck Want a truck, cannot afford
Styling Other, please explain,

11 If considering a truck, including a crossover or SUV, what are the reasons, please check all that apply.
Safety Value View of road
Utility Styling Rugged appearance
Other, please explain,

12 What barriers do you believe would prevent you buying a new vehicle?
Higher sticker price Insurance Financing
Depreciation Other,
13 What would you consider good reasons to buy new over used?
Longer life than used vehicle Lower interest rates
Warranty Value Current styling
Up to date features Other
14 If you are not in the market for a new car, what are the reasons? Please check all that apply.
Current finances Credit standing Other expenses
Satisfied with current vehicle Other, please explain.

This list is merely a tool and can and should be modified as the situation warrants.
Data Analysis Plan
The main source of data that will be meaningful is in the sales figures and even that will be make less clear by fluctuations in the economy, the political situation, and other external factors which Ford cannot control. The surveys that were sent out and returned will also have to be evaluated before and after the interventions to measure the results. The best method to measure sales data, and if the intervention has had a positive effect on sales is through percentages. This is because it is the most recognized method through which sales are recognized, whether on the balance sheet or income statement, or even the news media.
Customer retention and attraction is going be more difficult to measure. Even if sales increase, this is still not the most reliable fashion in which to measure whether customers bought the car because they were affordable, or because they genuinely felt Ford products were a viable alternative to other brands. This is going to mean sending the same surveys to the same people after the intervention and measuring the results, making allowances for those who have moved are otherwise not available. The chi-square test is the best way to measure consumer attitudes because of the subjectivity involved. If we expect a certain number of people to favor Ford products after the intervention, we can find out whether the change was significant or not. Other makes can be compared with this test and the significance of these. This will see if Ford has not only maintained, but gained market share.
Limitations of the Data Collection Plan
Any statistical method, as with any intervention method will have limitations. This is because no amount of planning can cover every possible event that can happen. A natural disaster can destroy thousands of cars and cause a surge in vehicle sales for all manufacturers, or a significant rise in interest rates can cause them to plummet. Internal problems that can arise are major recalls, or a strike decimates production. All of these factors can and will affect sales and the data collected. If the course of the data is used on its own merits, the results will be inaccurate without taking other factors into consideration. Other issues can arise from people moving and being unreachable to someone being frustrated with the dealer that day over an errant work order. Ford can choose to not follow through on any of the alternatives and this may or may not affect the results as well, but these will be more or less apparent in said results.
Admittedly, the questionnaire has some flaws in the interest of simplicity. There is not a space of every vehicle that Ford, Lincoln or Mercury manufactures, but only represents the most recognized. The customer can write in the “other” box to counter this, but all that really needed to be done is to ascertain whether customers want to buy a car or truck of varying sizes. This should be more than adequate. The field test showed that the form was not the easiest to use and interpret, with the layout being limited by the creativity of the author.
It also does not elaborate on those wanting to buy a used car, but the intent was not to influence the participants’ views on whether or not to buy one. Similarly, the idea of including “insurance” (costs), “depreciation” and “high sticker price” in the survey may be perceived to detract potential buyers from buying a new car. However, the argument for leaving this intact is that Ford needs the information in regards to keeping, or revising its current price structure.
Like it or not, these are the very reasons that customer opt for a used vehicle in the first place. Ford needs to know the amount so they can counter the threats. As touched on in Chapter 4, the sales of consumer vehicles may increase, but the sales of fleet vehicles, especially police vehicles, may actually decrease because of more agencies switching to the Carbon Motors product.

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