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Lincoln's maintenance cutbacks offer F&I opportunity

Some Lincoln dealers see opportunity in Lincoln's plan to trim its complimentary maintenance program from 4 years/50,000 miles to 2 years/24,000 miles starting with 2014 models.

They say the change presents an opportunity to pitch other aftermarket products that would enhance the shorter plans, thus boosting F&I sales. Or they say the change will motivate them to ratchet-up their F&I pitch to buyers of used Lincolns. Or they say the change could help clear out older inventories.

For example, dealer Bob Tasca Jr. of Tasca Automotive Group in Cranston, R.I., estimates that the majority of his Lincoln business is leasing.

"F&I is not really a factor with Lincoln because they have a 70,000-mile powertrain warranty and most are leased," Tasca says. "You're not going to sell an extended-service contract on a lease. The only F&I opportunities are with the used Lincolns. That's where it makes the most sense."

Peter Spina, owner of Lincoln of Wayne in Wayne, N.J., says trimming the length of the complimentary maintenance program could help sell 2013 models.

"It might help push out the 2013 models by being able to tell customers they still get the full maintenance plan," he says.

And Spina has hopes for improved F&I sales if Lincoln offers some wrap-around products that enhance the shorter maintenance plans.

But, he says, because the 2014 models won't arrive until fall, it's too early to speculate what products, if any, Lincoln will offer.

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