Distressed Dealers Convince Lincoln to Postpone Standalone Stores

distressed dealers convince lincoln to postpone standalone stores

This time last year, Lincoln was busy promoting its Experience Centers — storefronts that promote the brand and its products, but don’t serve as active dealerships. Then, in August, it asked around 80 Ford/Lincoln dealerships to commit to building separate Lincoln-only facilities by July. It was an attempt to elevate the premium brand by making it appear more exclusive, akin to what Cadillac attempted with Project Pinnacle and what Hyundai Group wants to achieve with Genesis.

Unfortunately, all of these programs garnered a “mixed response” from dealers. Many complained that the cost of building a separate showroom for higher-end models is prohibitively expensive. That has also been the case with Lincoln. The California New Car Dealers Association even wrote Ford Motor Co. last month, asking it not to punish storefronts that fail to divide their facilities, and it looks as though the automaker has acquiesced.

Lincoln previously told dealers that if they fail to to split Ford and Lincoln dealerships, going so far as to give them separate names and ensuring the premium store had floor-to-ceiling glass walls, they won’t receive a co-op reimbursement from the factory — which works out to about $100,000 a year for each dealership. While some stores complied, claiming they saw an uptick in sales, others feel the automaker is asking for too much.

According to Automotive News, Lincoln communicated its changes to the program in a memo to dealerships earlier this week. While it still harped on the importance of creating a “distinctive luxury experience,” the automaker acknowledged the need to “work with our dealer partners to better understand their questions and concerns and determine the right path forward.”

Greg Wood, Lincoln’s sales and service manager, told the outlet that the company will likely relaunch the program after the necessary changes are made. “We’ve been notified from a number of various dealers around the country that speak candidly and directly with us on some of their concerns,” Wood said. “We just want to take some time to listen to all our partners.”

Hopefully that won’t take too long. The brand may have recovered slightly from its post-recession decline, but 2018 is shaping up to be a weak year and our readership is clamoring for a Lincoln Death Watch series.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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  • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Dec 16, 2018

    The Ford/Lincoln shop I use here south of Portland is fine. More importantly, they replace wiper blades for free, and change oil for $50. The very fancy all glass Audi shop likely charges 2X as much for any basic service. I've yet to experience a car dealership where I've felt that I wanted to be there any longer than I had to be, no matter how much glass they had on the walls.

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Dec 16, 2018

    Just because Lexus made it, now every car company wants an exclusive line of dealerships for high end vehicles. They are trying to force other businesses to put up the money. Meanwhile, Tesla is already outselling most luxury brands with no independent dealerships and only a relative handful of showrooms at all. Ford and Hyundai twisting arms to get multi million dollar investments in shiny new buildings is a perfect example of fighting the last war, not the actual war they are in. Doomed. Stand alone Genesis, Cadillac and Lincoln dealers cannot and will not survive. Oddly enough, GM and Ford once understood that some markets would support stand along luxury nameplate dealers and others would not. Now they are so enamored with chasing the Germans and the Japanese that they don't know how to think clearly anymore.

    • Bd2 Bd2 on Dec 17, 2018

      Hyundai's initial plan was for a 100 dealer strong Genesis network (which was too low as many states would be w/o a Genesis store), but Hyundai dealerships revolted b/c too many were being left out, which is why Hyundai opened the application to every dealer group that owned a Hyundai franchise and 400 (way more than what Hyundai wants) are going forward. As for the direct-from-manufacturer/online sales approach, while that works for Tesla, not a guarantee that it'll work for the "old guard" automakers. Genesis utilizes the direct-from-manufacturer/online sales distribution model up in Canada which has hampered sales (compared to when the Genesis sedan was being sold at dealerships).

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