LAS VEGAS -- Ford Motor Co. wants its initial changes to Lincoln dealerships to focus on improving the customer experience more than on store redesign, says Ford's top marketing executive.
"We have to have an experience, because research shows that in order to conquest customers, we have to give them what they're accustomed to -- or more," said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of global marketing, sales and service.
Lincoln regional reps will be visiting dealerships over the next 60 days to determine if they want to stay with the franchise.
Interviewed at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show here, Farley said he wasn't ready to disclose what Ford will ask of Lincoln dealers.
But he said world-class technology, the focus of Lincoln's new marketing campaign, must become part of the dealership experience. He did not provide details.
"We have seen a dramatic change in luxury attitudes," Farley said. "Boomers have been through the wringer, in terms of what the economy has done to their expectations and their feeling of wealth. A return to 'what you get for what you pay' has a lot of resonance."
Farley said Lincoln wants to have 300 dealerships in major metro markets, down from about 495 now.
But he declined to give an overall total that Lincoln wants and would not say how many dealers have expressed a desire to walk away from the franchise.
Lincoln now has about 1,200 dealerships, compared with 220 for Lexus and 338 for BMW.