Ford Focus ZX
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Northern NJ
"Reinforcements will arrive this spring, including a freshened MKC crossover..."actually, Job1 is May7
What is still missing in Lincoln's portfolio?.
I think the company recognized there's some opportunities in the cycle plan. The focus right now is on SUVs. In that particular segment, you have a few opportunities. There's opportunities to do something smaller, something bigger, something in the middle. And maybe do something creative. The Germans will do three or four cars off one platform. So I think there's a lot of opportunities, and I think the company has recognized that. In order to keep the brand moving forward, we need to reinvest in the cycle plan.
Is Lincoln doing enough to differentiate itself from the Germans and other luxury brands?
In the global world we live in, everyone offers similar comfort and fuel economy. But what Lincoln is doing differently than everyone else is the experience inside the dealership. When the people cross my door, or even when they call, things like pickup and delivery, a warm environment on the showroom floor, I think that's an advantage for us. Because of our scale, we can do a lot of stuff that would be difficult for Lexus or the Germans to do. The biggest change we make is on this side of the business: inside the dealership. Pickup and delivery has been great. The new generation of buyers want more than the normal process of buying and selling a car. They want that commitment that, after I sell you the car, I'll be there all the time for you. Our industry is changing a lot, and one thing that's changing very fast is how we interact with customers. They need that commitment we'll be there forever. When you combine things like that with great product, like the Navigator, that's lethal.
Do you think Lincoln's boutique "experience center" model could grow to replace regular showrooms?
It's a great opportunity to show Lincoln to people who would have never considered Lincoln. I'm pretty sure that it's pretty costly, and being a factory proposition, it's the only way it can work. You can't take it to a normal dealer and have it be an operational success. It's small, high-end places where the rent factor is huge. It's working for Lincoln, but I don't think we can take it to the dealers.
What are your thoughts on CEO Jim Hackett and his commitment to Lincoln? = STOOOPID QUESTIONS!
He's emphasized that Ford needs a luxury brand and they'll do everything in their power to enhance it. I feel we're on the right path.
How does he compare to Mark Fields?
Jim is more of an Alan Mulally type; more of a visionary and someone who delegates and lets his people do their jobs. Mark was more hands-on. It's a difference, but both have been great for Ford.
Do you see an electrified future for Lincoln and how can that technology enhance the brand?
We know the company has a plan, but that plan is still very high level. We don't have access to that. But I think every luxury manufacturer realizes they have to play in that space. If you don't, you'll be out in the next 10 to 15 years. It's going to be part of the future of Lincoln.
Were you happy to see Jim Farley return to North America and work with Lincoln again? = STOOOPID QUESTION!
Jim's a great guy. The level of energy he has is hard to duplicate. He's a really intense guy. We sometimes don't agree on stuff when we discuss it, but I love the way he takes this business really serious. He's not afraid to make big calls, and really, that's what visionaries are for. He owns his decisions and he goes for it. To be honest, he was a big part of the change at Lincoln [during his first stint with the brand]. We did a lot of stuff that now we're seeing the fruits of. He knows the car business and he's very involved in the daily operations. The biggest thing I see in Jim is he's not afraid to make the call. That's something you need in leadership. I trust his instincts.
Kumar Galhotra has been a big part of Lincoln's recent success. Are you worried now that he's taking on responsibility as Ford's chief marketing officer in addition to his duties with Lincoln?
You're always going to have a concern when someone takes on such a big role, but I love Kumar. He's an engineer, so he sees everything through that way of doing business. He's a visionary and is always focused on the customer, which I love. He's also very cycle plan oriented. Not only is he helping with the whole operation, he's very involved with the cycle plan and figuring out what products we need. Kumar has been doing great for Lincoln and I don't doubt that he'll continue doing great for Lincoln. He's probably going to help a lot on the Ford side of the business, too. He's been a key, key player in Lincoln's success, 100 percent.
What have you been most proud of during your time on dealer council?
We've been raising the volume every year. I take that personal. I'll fight with Lincoln and tell them we need this rebate or we need that to sell this car, and we do that on a daily basis. To grow the brand the way we've been doing, that's one of the biggest things we've achieved. Also the profitability. To come from where we've come from, and now we see light at the end of the tunnel. Those two go together and it's what I'm most proud of since I started serving in council in 2012.
What's next for you once your term as dealer council chairman ends this summer?
I'm investing $20 million to open a new dealership in South Florida later this year. Imagine how much I believe in the future of Lincoln if I'm investing $20 million in this brand. We could always go out and buy another dealership and put the money somewhere else, but we believe in the future of Lincoln.
March 21, 2018 @ 12:45 pm?