Ford hired Les Clefs d’Or to consult on creating the Lincoln Academy

Article by Christian A., on April 4, 2012

Customer service at Lincoln dealerships would most likely be better after its dealers undergo training with Les Clefs d'Or (an international association of hotel concierges) sometime in the middle of the year. Last year, Ford Motor Co. eliminated about 35% of its big-city Lincoln dealers last year. The remaining dealerships are being asked by Ford for their sales staff to go through a training academy that follows a concierge service at a luxury hotel.

Les Clefs d'Or was chosen to consult on the creation of the Lincoln Academy. Ford said that this is the first alliance between Ford and the concierge group. The terms were not revealed. In a statement, Jim Farley, Ford global marketing chief, said that these new models are only one part of Lincoln's transformation.

He stated that Ford needs to support these models with personal and innovative customer service. CEO Alan Mulally wants to attract younger, richer buyers and a bigger share of the more-profitable premium-car sales for Lincoln. The luxury line’s sales peaked in 1990 but since then, its sales have declined by 63%. Lincoln’s customers are 65 years old on average.

Lincoln will present seven new models by 2015. Ford has asked Lincoln dealers to spend up to $2 million each to renovate showrooms and upgrade service as it aims to provide customers with a buying experience similar to those of its brand competitors like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

In 2011, Ford reduced its Lincoln dealers in U.S. metropolitan markets to 325 from over 500 so they could compete not so much with each other but more with other luxury-auto brands.

When talking about the consolidation of the dealers on Jan. 10 at the Detroit auto show, Farley said that the work has been “really difficult.” However, they’ve almost reached the “right number of dealers." Ford hopes that its Lincoln Academy training program will create "culture change in dealerships.” Ford said that this training starts midyear. Lincoln sales staff will be trained by hotel concierges on how to properly treat customers. [source: Autonews]

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