Lincoln will be covering the cost of the pickups and loaners, so the new service could allow dealers to save money on maintaining their own loaner fleets and have greater control over when loaners are returned to the dealership. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS
DETROIT — Lincoln, in a bid to stand out among larger luxury brands, today said it will provide free pickup and delivery of service vehicles to new owners starting with 2017 models.
The company will pick up a customer’s car at any location, leave a Lincoln of equal or greater value to use as a loaner, and then return the owner’s car after work on it is finished.
Lincoln Service Valet will be part of the vehicle’s warranty coverage and available throughout the U.S.
“It’s the single most important item we’ve done in some time,” said Ed Witt, owner of Witt Lincoln in San Diego. “For customers today, one of the things that they value the most is their time. This is a process by which the Lincoln dealers and the Lincoln Motor Co. can eliminate people’s needs to come to the dealer for almost anything.”
A strong consumer response to the program would add to Lincoln’s momentum. New products have helped boost U.S. sales 15 percent through May, making it one of the fastest-growing automotive brands. Yet it remains in eighth place among luxury marques, behind European and Japanese rivals as well as General Motors’ Cadillac.
Lincoln says it is the first automotive brand to offer pickup and delivery as a standard service across its full product line.
Dave Sullivan, a product analyst with AutoPacific, said that while some brands do that for higher-end models or at participating dealers, Lincoln’s service puts it in “uncharted territory,” which is a good step for a brand that fell off the radar of many luxury-car buyers.
“There’s too many brands copying each other,” said Sullivan, who was briefed on the plan. “It’s time for some of these brands to think outside the box in terms of how to up their service game.”
Lincoln has been testing the service at a few dealers over the past year. It surveyed customers who used it and found that 98 percent said they would be more likely to receive service from that dealer in the future and would recommend Lincoln to a friend because of it. In addition, 93 percent said they likely would purchase another Lincoln as a result.
“Our dealers view this as a way to differentiate the client experience for Lincoln owners,” Andrew Frick, Lincoln’s North American director of sales and services, said in a statement. “No matter what Lincoln vehicle clients have from our portfolio, they have the peace of mind of getting that vehicle to and from service at a location of their choice, with a complimentary Lincoln loaner in order to maintain their busy schedules.”
Lincoln executives said in March that they were planning to offer pickup and delivery on the upcoming Continental sedan, which starts at $ 45,485, including shipping. The full Lincoln lineup stretches from the $ 33,000 MKC crossover to the Navigator SUV, which tops out at more than $ 70,000.
The fact that customers said they were so satisfied that they would be more likely to return for service in the future was key in selling Lincoln dealers on the idea that their customers would actually visit the store less. Witt said he has been offering a similar service for several years with great results.
“I’m not concerned about customers not coming into the dealership. I’m more concerned about taking good care of my customers,” he said. “It’s certainly been costly but it’s kept a very loyal customer base.”
Because Lincoln will be covering the cost of the pickups and loaners, it could allow dealers to save money on maintaining their own loaner fleets and have greater control over when loaners are returned to the dealership.