"They were the first to give me an opportunity because up until that point, I was homeless."
Meeting with Ed Roberts is always an experience that leaves an impact. A leader in the truest sense of the word, hearing his story allowed for a much deeper understanding of how he came to be building the Bozard Ford Lincoln brand, the team, and the culture. Understanding his journey, where it all began, gives a new perspective on Ed.
His vision of the future: "Dealers have to change, and we'll probably be around for the next 100 years, but I hope we're different."
The MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022 is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted at the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit with Ed Roberts, Chief Operations Officer of Bozard Ford Lincoln.
Ed was offered an opportunity as an Apprentice Technician at a Ford Dealer. He had, up until that point, relied on selling glass and other items he was collecting from dumpsters to put food on the table. "I thought they were a cool brand, but honestly, they gave me my first opportunity," Ed shares.
It wasn't long before Ed got promoted to Team Leader and then Shop Foreman, and after working for Ford Motor Company in Michigan, he ran a satellite service center. When Ed's daughter was born, he left the dealer business for a couple of years but returned to work with people and customers; "the dealer business and the automotive industry fit perfectly with who I am."
"What I love most about Fixed Ops is that I get to give that opportunity back."
Bozard Ford Lincoln's hiring strategy is in harmony with their personal development philosophy, "I did not have to go hire anybody to replace me when I moved into the COO role; I just moved someone up. Our growth comes from within, and most of the positions we hire for are entry-level spots," says Ed. "It all starts with employee loyalty because then they become your brand," his understanding of people and their needs has directly impacted not only his team but also the customers they serve. "Customers feel the culture of a store, and they want to be a part of it."
"We typically set records four or five times a year" Ed smiles, he has been with Bozard Ford Lincoln for over ten years, and it has been a prosperous decade for Ed and the Team. "I ask myself what I did today to make an impact, and sometimes, you get caught up on things that don't have a larger impact on the Business." Ed goes on to share that "just by asking yourself that question, you are putting yourself in an impact-driven mindset, and that starts to affect everyone around you; it becomes infectious."
Building teams and, consequently, culture requires having all the elements and channels designed with a sense of individualism. "You need to have an understanding of who a person is to connect with them," says Ed, "not everyone wants to work in service or sales; you need to find out who they are and create a path that allows them to be the most effective in their job."
"A lot of people talk about millennials and Gen Z's negatively, but the truth is, if you allow them to chase after a career path, you will be surprised at the results," says Ed. With the future of everything being digital, Ed understands how important it is to leverage young talent. "They grew up in a digital age where they embrace technology, and if we embrace that direction, we all win."
"I think the shift towards electric vehicles has given us a new opportunity to make it cool to be a technician again."
"We've shifted, and there has been a digital transition to how we communicate with the manufacturers," Ed says, "regarding claims, we can get instant feedback which helps immensely." This means that the industry can improve and grow by ultimately being more effective. When you intend to make everything as seamless for the customers as possible, the cascading effect is that the employees are positively affected in every way, and the brand is elevated. So many Vendors are technology focused, trying to improve the efficiency of the automotive industry through digital transformation, "it's good to take the time, to slow down and consider what they're trying to accomplish," says Ed. The automotive industry is decades behind in technology, and according to Ed, there is something to be learned from each person and company entering the space to drive the industry forward. In the last few years, "shopping habits have changed, but unfortunately, in general, the car buying experience hasn't," says Ed.
"I believe there will be a time when autonomous vehicles fully understand our driving habits," says Ed. He smiles and speaks of a future where vehicles will fire themselves at night, be serviced, and "be waiting for you in your driveway the next morning: no downtime." Ed acknowledges that there are timelines, and lifetimes, to consider but highlights the importance of forward-thinking, incremental steps being dependent on envisioning that future.
Ed will be discussing Using Digital And Automation For Cost Effective Claims Processing To Optimize Operational Efficiencies at the MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit at the Westin Southfield Detroit on October 25th and 26th.
Join our newsletter and get news in your inbox every week! We hate spam too, so no worries about this.