Lincoln to Build Standalone Dealerships Apart From Ford

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Lincoln and Ford dealerships are often paired together, but that’s about to change. In the interest of increased sales, Lincoln wants its showrooms separated from the more mass-market Ford brand.

The idea here is to create a true luxury experience from the minute a customer walks into a showroom. It’s what a luxury customer wants and when Lincoln is paired with Ford, the experience just isn’t the same. It’s not simply a wild guess on the part of Lincoln that having standalone stores boosts sales. There’s data to back up the change.

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It costs a lot of money to build a new showroom, but standalone dealerships do better. They posted a 42 percent increase in sales from 2014 to 2017 while the brand overall posted only an 18 percent gain. The cash outlay now to build a separate showroom will hopefully pay off in increased sales over the long run.

Lincoln is working hard to reestablish itself as a luxury brand. It was once a go-to brand for luxury shoppers, but came to be seen as old-fashioned. It was the brand your parents or grandparents bought, not the brand for a young, successful person.

The introduction of a new Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln Continental gave Lincoln back a good bit of what it lost, but the association with Ford when customers come in to buy doesn’t fit the image. They want their customers to feel special and apparently that doesn’t happen when they’re working a deal next to a Ford Focus.

In addition to revamping the lineup, Lincoln also introduced its exclusive and very high-end Black Label vehicles. Future plans call for those vehicles to be sold at standalone dealerships only, offering another incentive for dealers to make that initial investment.

These standalone stores will feature a new design called Vitrine and range from 6,000 to 8,000 square feet. There will be floor-to-ceiling glass creating an open and airy space with a look unique to Lincoln.

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Lincoln is focusing its efforts on 30 markets where 70 percent of luxury sales happen. There are 150 Lincoln dealerships there and 72 are already standalone buildings. To get the remaining 78 on board, Lincoln plans to offer incentives including helping find land and offering more money for cars sold at the new locations.

It’s an expensive proposition for dealers, but one Lincoln believes is worth the cost.