Lincoln has been on a slow churn toward restoring long-lost former glory. Ford Motor Company's luxury brand is aiming for greatness, and the plan will either work or the company will fall back as a luxury also-ran. In an effort to nudge the ship in the right direction, Lincoln is looking for a few of its key dealers to break their showrooms apart from the Ford footprint. That means stand-alone stores, which Lincoln believes is the path to prosperity.
According to a Sunday report from Automotive News, Lincoln is urging dealers located in the top 30 U.S. luxury markets to turn Ford-Lincoln dealerships into separate stores. A separate Lincoln showroom is a better draw for customers, and results in more sales compared to the combined dealerships.
"Customers expect the environment to be equal to the product. They want to buy a luxury product in a luxury environment," said Robert Parker, Lincoln's director of marketing.
Lincoln says the top 30 markets account for about 70 percent of luxury sales. Lincoln has about 150 dealers in those markets. Almost half of those dealers have already made the commitment, and Lincoln wants the rest to commit to the plan by next July and have the new showrooms ready by July 2021. Service departments and other parts of the business can continue to be shared with the Ford dealers.
The automaker isn't expecting targeted dealers to simply head off in search of land and cash to make this all happen. Lincoln will assist in the procurement of new space, give the dealers more money from each vehicle sold at the stand-alone stores, and, beginning in the second quarter of next year, allow only stand-alone stores to sell the higher-profit Black Label products.
Lincoln Aviator SUV, 2018 New York auto show
Some dealers have already adopted the new style of showroom, and they have seen an increase in sales. One shop in Minneapolis saw its retail sales climb by 60 percent, while another in California doubled its sales.
This is a move that needs to go well for Lincoln. After years of stagnant products wearing three-letter names, Lincoln has a product family that looks sharp and is only getting better. The new Navigator is a wonderful SUV that won the 2018 North American Truck of the Year award. It's set to be joined by both the Nautilus and Aviator crossovers within the next year. Considering that crossovers are the hotcakes of the industry, Lincoln is shoring up its lineup with vehicles that should sell rather well.
These vehicles will be visually appealing parked inside the new stand-alone showrooms. The plan calls for the vehicles to be set up like a jewel box. Lots of glass and lots of light will create an open environment that should treat the products like the high-end items luxury shoppers crave.