Farley: Service trumps facilities for Lincoln
Photo credit: RENATO ZACCHIA
NEW YORK -- Lincoln is more interested in having its dealers master customer service than renovate their stores to its Trustmark Design standards, said Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co.'s global marketing chief.
"What's more important to us is not the facility. It's their physical commitment to the brand and their commitment to do the training and they're going to deliver personalized experience," Farley said here on the sidelines of the press conference introducing the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.
"That's what's going to make us different -- not the physical walls," he said. "Everyone can have a beautiful facility. But that's not what's going to make Lincoln great. It's the handshake."
Farley: What will make Lincoln great is “the handshake.”
Lincoln is making customer service a priority in its drive to attract new buyers. At several events here, Lincoln executives talked about customer service before they mentioned the redesigned MKZ, the brand's critical entry in the mid-sized luxury sedan market where it competes with such cars as the BMW 3 series and Mercedes-Benz C class.
A signature feature of the MKZ will be an optional 15-square-foot glass roof that retracts over the rear window. Lincoln also will offer a smaller glass roof on the MKZ.
Farley acknowledged that "the commitment to execute personal service in the way we imagine will not be easy."
He added: "We want to break down that friction that a conquest customer has to overcome in considering a new brand like Lincoln." Lincoln believes it must provide special service to get customers' attention.
Lincoln still has its work cut out getting dealers to agree to improve their stores, which remains a top priority. Half its dealers in the top 130 U.S. markets have agreed to renovate their facilities in line with the Trustmark Design standards. Lincoln officials have said that fewer than 325 dealers are in those markets, but the number is in flux because of the dealership consolidation program.
Other dealers who haven't agreed to renovate their stores are awaiting more evidence that Lincoln can pull off its latest turnaround. Kevin Cour, Lincoln manager of sales and service, said Lincoln knows it has to convince dealers: "We need to win their hearts and minds and continue to show them proof points that we are committed to reinvesting in the Lincoln brand."
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