Ford dangles $750,000 carrot for facilities
Dealers get leeway to tailor projects for local markets
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
ORLANDO -- Ford brand will offer as much as $750,000 in dollar-for-dollar matching funds to dealers who refurbish their facilities in line with the Ford Trustmark design program, the brand told dealers at its make meeting.
Ford executives stressed that the program gives dealers flexibility to design their stores to meet local business conditions, as long as they stay within Trustmark guidelines.
All 3,100 Ford-brand dealers are eligible for the funds, which can cover as much as half the cost of a project and are not tied to sales or customer service targets.
Ford has urged dealers to renovate their facilities but has not demanded that they do so. The matching funds give dealers a big, new financial incentive.
Ford is emphasizing making dealerships compatible with consumers' desires for digital information.
Part of facility investment helps in "digital experiences," including the use of electronic tablets, said Jim Farley, executive vice president of global marketing, sales, service and Lincoln. "We're really getting into digital fitness."
Jeff Carlson, owner of Glenwood Springs Ford, plans to tap the matching funds. He has received planning approval from Glenwood Springs, Colo., for a project that will cost $1.2 million to $1.4 million. He expects to be eligible for at least $600,000 from Ford.
"This makes it much less painful," he said.
Don Chalmers, owner of Don Chalmers Ford in Rio Rancho, N.M., and Chalmers Capitol Ford-Lincoln in Santa Fe., N.M., said Ford is letting dealers buy locally sourced materials such as furniture and tiles as long as they meet Trustmark guidelines.
"It takes into account each dealer's locale and local culture," he said.
Derek Lee, general manager of Long McArthur Ford-Lincoln in Salina, Kan., said Ford's offer will help him with a roughly $1.2 million redesign of his dealership, which was built in 2001. "It has not looked outdated until recently," he said. "It looks 10 years old now."
Ford's offer runs through 2013 and is retroactive to Jan. 1. Ford did not say how it would compensate dealers who have paid to improve their facilities to Trustmark guidelines.
Said Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service: "We're visiting with those dealers."
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