Ford Offers Cash to Dealers for New Showrooms

ford-dealershipFord brand will offer dollar-for-dollar matching funds up to $750,000 to dealers who refurbish their facilities in line with the Ford Trustmark design program, the company told dealers at a meeting during the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.

All 3,100 Ford-brand dealers are eligible. The matching funds will cover up to half the cost of a project. The program gives dealers flexibility to design their facilities to meet local business conditions as long as they stay within Trustmark guidelines. “It is not tied to volume or customer scores,” Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told reporters.

He declined to say how much Ford Motor Co. has budgeted for the program.

Ford is emphasizing making dealerships compatible with consumers’ desires for digital information.

A component of facility investment helps in “digital experiences,” including use of electronic tablets, said Jim Farley, executive vice president of global marketing, sales, service and Lincoln. “We’re really getting into digital fitness.”

Dealers praised the program for its flexibility, compared with more rigid mandates by some competitors.

“They’ve raised the bar for other manufacturers in the world of facilities,” said Jeff Carlson, owner of Glenwood Springs Ford. “This will challenge other manufacturers to do something.”

Carlson has just received planning approval from the city of Glenwood Springs, Colo., for an improvement that will cost between $1.2 million and $1.4 million. He expects to be eligible for at least $600,000 in matching funds from Ford.

“This makes it much less painful,” he said.

Don Chalmers, owner of Don Chalmers Ford in Rio Rancho, N.M., and Chalmers Capital Ford in Santa Fe., N.M., said Ford is permitting dealers to use local vendors to buy locally sourced materials such as furniture and tiles, as long as they meet the Trustmark standards.

“It takes into account each dealer’s locale and local culture,” he said.

Derek Lee, general manager of Long McArthur Ford-Lincoln in Salina, Kan., said Ford’s offer will help him with a roughly $1.2 million improvement to his dealership, which was built in 2001. “It has not looked outdated until recently,” he said. “It looks 10 years old now.”

The Ford offer is good through 2013 and retroactive to Jan. 1. Ford did not say what it would do to compensate dealers who have already paid to improve their facilities to Trustmark standards.

Said Czubay: “We’re visiting with those dealers.”


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