DEARBORN, Mich.—Ford Motor Co.'s standalone Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers operation has reached a significant milestone with the opening in Grapevine, Texas, of the 700th independent store in the U.S.
"We've been growing at somewhere between 50 and 100 (locations) per year in the last several years," said Frederiek Toney, vice president, Ford Motor Co. and president, Ford Customer Service.
"We're just seeing tremendous growth and we think we're just getting started."
He said some dealers have added more than one location, with about 25 percent having at least two stores.
"Our Quick Lane outlets provided more than half of the sales that we make at Ford for tires," Mr. Toney told Tire Business. "We sold 3.2 million in 2013 through our dealership network, which makes us one of the fastest growing tire outlets in the United States."
Quick Lane offers routine vehicle maintenance, such as oil and filter changes, light repair services including brake repair and tire replacements on all vehicle makes and models.
The Quick Lane network posted record sales of nearly $800 million for 2013. The first Quick Lane opened in 1998.
Ford also has expanded the program internationally to 100 locations, including 56 in Canada.
The auto maker's plans for the auto centers coincides with Chrysler Group L.L.C.'s announcement (see story in Feb. 3 Tire Business) that its Mopar parts and service brand is evaluating stand-alone Express Lane quick-stop service centers. Chrysler said about a third of its 2,400 Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram dealerships have Express Lanes in their service departments but only one, in Duncanville, Texas, has opened a four-bay, stand-alone site.
"Quick Lane, and the whole concept, works all across the world," Mr. Toney said, noting that consumers want to come in to get routine light maintenance repair done quickly on their vehicles.
"It's a wonderful concept we are using to actually improve our overall service everywhere in the world...that whole concept works in any market that you can think of."
Mr. Toney said the Canadian business is coming along similarly to that in the U.S., with good growth.
As the company reaches "the 700 plateau," he said it will "see continued growth." Ford has not mapped out the future on a year-over-year basis, according to Mr. Toney, but its next goal is to "get to 1,000 Quick Lanes as soon as possible."
In 2013, Ford launched its first national advertising campaign for the business, featuring "Ready to Serve" Quick Lane advisers and technicians. Ford also launched a series of digital ads that show the lighter side of vehicle maintenance. They feature a Quick Lane technician who seeks to improve the world by providing friendly maintenance advice to others, including a police officer and a teacher.
"We're trying to reach the average consumer and make them aware of Quick Lane and what we do," Mr. Toney said. "It's a great place for them to go to, to get their needs taken care of."
He said Ford supports the Quick Lane program mostly with these advertisements, although some startup funds and other training and parts support is part of the program for the car maker's dealers.
"Our primary investment comes in the form of national advertising and promoting the brand on a national basis. Whereas in the past, we didn't have enough saturation to do that."
Quick Lane locations sell 13 leading tire brands: Michelin, Uniroyal, BFGoodrich, Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Continental, General, Hankook, Pirelli, Bridgestone, Firestone and Yokohama.
Mr. Toney said the scope of the program has not changed over the years, but has been refined as "we've gained more experience,...so the focus has always been on providing quick, convenient service with quality."
He said the company is "just happy to be associated with the fastest growing service brand in the industry."
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6143.