Ford Motor Credit Co. is replacing several branch offices with fewer service centers, and it's been rough.

“We've had some problems,” acknowledges Todd Trese, Ford Credit's North American marketing director.

Snags have caused dealers to give the captive lender low satisfaction scores of late.

“We're working hard on addressing that,” Trese says. “We have to. Without dealers, you're done. We're aware of that.”

Switching from local offices to regional centers is intended to achieve greater efficiencies — particularly on the cost side.

But it hasn't been easy.

“It is like trying to change a tire on a car moving at 80 mph (128 km/h),” Trese says at an F&I Management and Technology conference here.

The main problem during the switch has been “less interfacing” between Ford Credit representatives and dealers, he says.

A few dealers say the transition has been smooth enough for them.

They are outnumbered by dealers less pleased with how it has gone.

To that group, Trese says: “I promise that at the end of the transformation at the end of the year, you'll be more satisfied than ever before.”