Lincoln's latest model: A showcase store
Mich. dealership has lots of space, lots of glass, even brand's essence
Photo credit: BRADFORD WERNLE
DETROIT -- Lincoln executives will be bringing the brand's dealers from around the country to Hines Park Lincoln in Plymouth, Mich. The message: Emulate this store.
Mike Kolb, president, and his son, Ryan, vice president, just reopened the store last month after a radical nine-month, roughly $3 million renovation.
The Kolbs and Kevin Cour, Lincoln dealer network manager at Ford Motor Co., recently led a tour of the showcase store.
Everything here fits the Lincoln Trustmark Design plan, right down to the "essence of Lincoln," a scent that wafts through the store, piped through the air ducts.
"This is what we desire Lincoln dealerships to be, all across the country from coast to coast," Cour says.
The theory is that a new generation of luxury customers will want to visit those showrooms again and again.
"About one-third of our dealers in the top 130 luxury markets have completed their facilities, and 70 percent have committed to the Trustmark design execution by the end of 2014," Cour says.
The factory offers various incentives to dealers who renovate in line with the program. Lincoln has about 900 dealerships nationwide, with 300 in the top 130 markets. Those markets account for 90 percent of luxury sales.
Hines Park Lincoln sells about 2,000 new and 600 used vehicles a year and has 106 employees. The renovation "has energized everybody," says Mike Kolb, 58.
The store's facade features a 32-foot vertical black "Lincoln entry tower." The outside front wall is predominantly glass panels, which bring light streaming into the spacious, airy showroom.
Immediately inside the entrance sits a greeter's desk, which eventually will be part of all Lincoln stores. The sales desks sit discreetly around the perimeters of the floor.
Multiple customer seating areas feature contemporary furniture. They're all in the open. There's a self-serve coffee bar, and there's also a business center with outlets and computer hookups.
Photo credit: BRADFORD WERNLE
Ryan Kolb says: "I wanted a very open feel for the customer lounge. There's not a little room where you say: 'You go sit in this room.'"
The service drive is cavernous, with automatic glass entry and exit doors. Service writers sit in glass-walled offices at the side of the lane. Customers never have to see a lift unless they want to.
The floor is done in rectangular brown and off-white porcelain tiles. There's a hushed, almost serene atmosphere about the place, which is in keeping with Lincoln's goal of being a "cool" brand in the face of what it considers "hot," aggressive, performance-oriented luxury competitors.
Large photographs from the dealership's history adorn the walls along with large quotations from founder George Kolb, Mike Kolb's late father.
The centerpiece of the dealership is the delivery area, with space for two vehicles. A plasma TV screen sits in each lane. The TVs are used to instruct customers on how to operate their vehicles and the technology in them.
"It's not just a delivery area but a training area" for the customers to learn about the car, says Constantin Kouchary, Ford's director of dealership facility design.
Customers walk past the service adviser desks on the way to the delivery area. "When we deliver the car, we introduce the customer to the service advisers," Mike Kolb says.
Ryan Kolb, the general manager, says the dealership, formerly known as Hines Park Lincoln-Mercury, was always in the shadow of the Cadillac dealership next door: Don Massey Cadillac, perennially one of the largest-volume Caddy stores in the country.
"We always had to say, 'We're next to the Cadillac dealership,'" he says. "Now people say, 'What Cadillac dealership?'"
You can reach Bradford Wernle at email@example.com.