Added: 27 July 2018
TrustFord, the national car dealer network, has today launched a weekly ‘Autism Hour’ in its dealerships, helping to create an autism-friendly customer experience.
In October 2017 TrustFord joined other major retailers in taking part in the National Autistic Society’s nationwide initiative, becoming the first and only automotive company to do so. It has now rolled out this programme weekly, to all dealerships in Mainland UK and Northern Ireland.
Research from the National Autistic Society has shown that 64% of autistic people avoid going to the shops as they find the noise and light overwhelming, as well as feeling socially isolated due to a lack of public understanding of autism. By not adapting retail environments to make them autism-friendly, over 3 million customers are being excluded from shops across the UK and NI. Autism Hour was set up to resolve this by promoting simple steps businesses can take to create a more autism-friendly world
Starting from 2 August 2018, Autism Hour will run every Thursday from 10am – 11am.
During this time dealerships will make changes to their environments to make them more accessible to customers with autism. These include: turning down music and other noise such as tannoy announcements and workshop noise; and dimming dealership lights. Training will also be given to staff to ensure they know how to best serve customers with autism.
Stuart Foulds, Chairman and Chief Executive of TrustFord, said: "TrustFord has long been committed to driving the standard in customer care, and catering our in-store offering to a range of customer needs is central to that. We are proud to be rolling out Autism Hour across the UK and NI, which believe will make a significant difference to our customers with autism.
"It is essential that the automotive industry continually adapts to make itself accessible to all customers, so we hope that the industry more widely will join us by making similar commitments."
TrustFord has a track record of working with autism charities and its Northern Ireland dealerships recently received the Autism Impact Award in recognition of their commitment to accessibility adjustments. These, in conjunction with TrustFord’s long-running participation in the Motability car scheme – designed to provide cars and powered wheelchairs to disabled customers – are just some of the ways in which TrustFord continues to drive the standard in customer care.