Ford Motor Company has benefited immensely from its investments in its Blue Oval Brand, improving sales and profits, while wrapping its entire operations in an aura of invulnerability. But underneath all the Ford-branded success lies a problem that, more often than not, has been conveniently swept under the rug: Ford’s luxury offerings are in chaos. The last time we checked in on Lincoln, Ford was trying to convince dealers that Lincoln’s future product would be competitive in the tough luxury market… without disclosing any details that might give salesmen hope that future Lincolns will be something other than an obviously tarted-up Ford. But as tough a sell as that is, Lincoln’s dealers seem to be even more worried about the more prosaic elements of Ford’s luxury brand turnaround…
According to Automotive News [sub], Ford has issued an ultimatum to its Lincoln dealers: either they agree to meet minimum brand requirements by September 1, or they face losing their franchise. Ford’s demands include that dealers
• Offer perks such as a free car wash and a Lincoln loaner vehicle to Lincoln service customers
• Have a dedicated service manager and dedicated sales staff for Lincoln, if the dealership is paired with a Ford store
• Have only the word “Lincoln,” without “Mercury,” appear on all franchise signage
• Have at least 30% of used-Lincoln inventory be certified pre-owned
And though these seem like basic requirements for a luxury dealer net, a number of Lincoln store owners are concerned with several demands.For example, what if a customer wants a full-sized loaner replacement for a vehicle that’s been turned in for service, but the dealer only has MKZs on the lot? A dealer complains
The rule is 80 percent of the customers that Ford follows up on have to get a Lincoln loaner… You may have a situation in the course of the day where you don’t have enough Lincoln loaner cars.
Say you have 10 used Lincolns in stock, and 40 percent were certified pre-owned, and you sold two of them. Now you’re down to eight in stock and only two being certified pre-owned, do you have to scramble to get two more certified pre-owns to make yourself compliant?