For Lincoln dealers, one priority looms over all others for 2014: product.
"We continue first and foremost to challenge the company to increase the breadth and depth of the product lineup," says Bill Knight, owner of Bill Knight Lincoln in Tulsa, Okla., and chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council. "We recognize it just takes time."
The MKZ sedan, the first vehicle in Lincoln's attempted brand reinvention, arrived nearly three months late after a botched launch, and other vehicles seem to be taking agonizingly long. The second vehicle in Lincoln's transformation, the MKC compact crossover, is scheduled to arrive in early summer.
When MKZs finally did arrive in April, Lincoln dealers were able to move them in decent numbers. But the car came too late for Lincoln dealers to cash in on a booming luxury market. Lincoln sales dropped 1 percent in 2013, while the luxury market grew by 10 percent.
Knight, entering his second and final year as council chairman, says that with the MKC in the pipeline, 2014 is lining up to be a better year.
"If there's a bright spot, profitability for the Lincoln dealers improved 30 percent in 2013," he added.
Knight says dealers were impressed by the MKC, which was introduced in New York in November.
"The reaction has been really positive. It shows the continued commitment on the part of the company to provide differentiated vehicles for Lincoln. The MKZ got criticism that it was too close to the Ford Fusion. We're not hearing that on MKC."