Great premier editorial by Jim Ziegler in the August issue of WardsAuto Dealer Business.
I'd like to respond to the column, as well as Steve Finlay's story, “Dealerships of Tomorrow,” in the same issue because they are connected. I don't know how Jim Ziegler does it, but he always is spot on with what is going on with Ford.
Talk to a consumer, and they see Ford as doing everything right. I do not deny that because they did plan ahead and have done the right thing by not filing for bankruptcy.
Product quality is the best we have had in decades. We barely have any warranty issues with vehicles built today.
Great news! Maybe. Maybe not.
I wish you could have been a fly on the wall at the Lincoln dealer meeting last October in Detroit. I had never been to such a somber and angry event. Lincoln executives told us their plan and that we would get something that described the program when we left.
We got nothing and were shuttled off to our buses for our flights about two hours early. It wasn't until after the first of the year before we saw some kind of a plan.
One of the comments in the meeting really struck home with all the dealers. It went something like: “We have a short time frame (end of the year) and a finite amount of money, so you need to make a decision soon.” Well, they never talked to us and I can't tell you how many times the ‘Plan’ has been revised.
Right after I read your column, I read Steve Finlay's article on dealerships of tomorrow.
Steve is right on target for what dealers need to do to control our costs. For the past two years we have been ordering almost exclusively to retail orders. Some of this is our choosing, some not.
So what do Steve's comments have to do with Ford? Well, we would like to order vehicles when we need them and order what sells.
Lincoln has designated luxury markets as ones to receive 85% of total production. I can't tell you how many times I have been told, “You don't have any allocation.”
I am a retailer and I will find a way to get product for our customers, one way or another. I truly believe some dealers have had enough. I have seen too many good friends and longtime (spelled l-o-y-a-l) dealers leave Lincoln the past months. I don't think what Lincoln is doing is right.
Name and dealership withheld upon request