C.J. O'Donnell, Lincoln's group marketing manager, says that all Ford-Lincoln dealerships must have a dedicated staff to sell and service Lincolns. If the Lincoln National Dealer Council agrees to that condition, O'Donnell wants it to be implemented in the next few months.
The new rule is part of a developing plan to improve customer service at Lincoln dealerships so the brand can compete with top luxury brands.
There are about 1,200 U.S. Lincoln dealerships. O'Donnell says the brand is working with the Council to revise the advertising co-op program and extend dealer training. Lincoln may boost profit margins to allow dealers to offer bonuses to exemplary sales or service employees.
Ford Motor Co. executives, in June 2010, ceased the production of Mercury. Ford promised to develop refined luxury vehicles in the coming years for the Lincoln dealers to sell. In May 2010, Ford named O'Donnell as group marketing manager of Lincoln Mercury.
He had been global marketing director for Jaguar. In October 2010, Ford told Lincoln dealers to prepare investing in showroom renovations and to improve customer service.
If these dealers chose not to, Ford would offer to buy out their franchise. Lincoln expects dealers to decide by next summer. Ford wants to close down at least 200 Lincoln dealerships in the top 130 U.S. markets. [via autonews - sub. required]