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CAN THE LINCOLN FRANCHISE SURVIVE ?

Jim Ziegler Proposes 10 Ways To Save Lincoln

Never has there been a more dedicated band of starry-eyed optimists than the surviving Lincoln dealers.

These brave souls have jumped through every hoop and swallowed every bitter pill the manufacturer served with hardly a whimper. They put up the money and built the upgraded facilities, separated their showrooms, and upped their game in anticipation of the rivers of milk and honey in the Promised Land.

Of course reality always trumps fantasy. Truth is, it just ain’t happening.

I don’t think it’s ever going to happen if Lincoln stays on the current course. Please remember, I love Ford. I regard Alan Mulally, Mark Fields and Jim Farley as personal friends. This is not mean-spirited Jim Ziegler talking here.

I speak to these dealers when they come back from automaker meetings worked up in a frenzy of excitement. Talk to them a few weeks later, and they’re back to the grind of moving these cars in a market where they are the underdog.

Last year it was the MKZ midsize. This was billed as the future of the brand. Then, after a dismally inept launch, Lincoln is refocused on the upcoming launch of the MKC cross/utility vehicle.

Excuse me, this is Jim Ziegler talking from the heart. I have a special place in my heart for Lincoln. I drove them in the glory days. I owned nine Town Cars and several Mark VII’s back-to-back. Watching the brand go downhill has hurt me, as I now drive Cadillacs and Buicks. Sad to say, their quality is scoring higher and the models are more appealing.

There’s still time to save Lincoln and have it retake its rightful share of the luxury market. But the clock is ticking and the brand is totally on the wrong path. I don’t always claim to be the great and powerful wizard, but; here are some of the things I would do immediately.

Get rid of that God-awful ugly-ass grille you’re so proud of. I have talked to numerous consumers and it’s hard to find anyone who believes it’s attractive, classy or stylish.

Put a full-court press on modernizing and upgrading the Navigator. What genius-thinking has allowed your flagship full-sized luxury SUV to become a stale, old- technology, outdated, jazzed-up Expedition with a navigation panel the size of a postage stamp?

Let’s see, Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator. Let me think for second here? Perception is reality. Ford threw away the full-sized SUV market all at once.

MKZ, MKS, MKZ, MKT now MKC. This is absolutely stoo-pid thinking. Did somebody on the marketing team have a lobotomy? Nobody, and I mean nobody, has the foggiest idea what those models are.

I used to always say that American vehicles should have names. American luxury has personality and swagger. Put exciting and innovative names on Lincoln models, and stop changing them all of the time.

Get rid of the MKT cross/utility vehicle. It is an abomination, a Frankenstein of a CUV. (And, while you’re at it, dump the Ford Flex too). And while I’m on a rant, who the hell thought it would be okay to put the “Town Car” name on an MKT?

While we’re on the subject, explain again exactly why the real Town Car was discontinued?

Yes, it was long of tooth and getting stale, but who allowed that to happen? It was extremely profitable at the time of its execution and you certainly threw away the livery business that you once owned. There is a market for full-sized luxury and you axed your entrant before you had anything legitimate to replace it with.

You are so eaten up with chasing Generation Y that you totally threw away your bread and butter, the Baby Boomers. I’m talking about 77 million consumers who have more than 75% of America’s wealth and buy 60% of the new cars.

We’re talking about sane and stable people here who used to always buy your products. Now, you threw them to the four winds because you were concentrating on Generation Y’ers living in Mom’s basement. Build cars aimed at people who are qualified to buy, who can and will buy now.

Call me crazy. Everyone else seems to. But, I would halo a Lincoln semi-performance pony car squarely aimed at the Generation X professional that now buys BMW. It wouldn’t be a Mustang, but a Lincoln with its own persona.

Even Acura is bringing back the NSX. I would design a $60,000 Lincoln sports car that would have the entire world talking. Sorry, the MKZ isn’t what I’m describing here.

Try to think of some other incentive programs other than leasing to attract new customers. Once again, you’re too fixated on trying to be like the Europeans. It’s been a long time since Lincoln has thought outside of the incentive-program box. It’s same old, same old. The MKZ launch was an example of right car, bad execution. Your dealers did not let you down, you blew it.

Simplify the technology. I am applauding your return to sanity on new models with manual controls that consumers can understand and operate and don’t cause distracted driving. My wife is now driving a Cadillac again, but when she drove Mercedes and BMW, she felt she needed an engineering degree to operate those cars’ infotainment systems.

Finally, admit when you’re wrong. I know this is difficult for any executive that works for any automaker.

For 38 years in the industry I’ve watched thousands of factory executives come and go. It’s always the same. The new ones come in the business thinking they know more about retail than the dealers. They try the same old crap that didn’t work before.

It’s an endless cycle. By the time we get you trained as to what really works, here comes the next generation. Another constant: Going to your dealers to bail you out.

I believe Ford has some of the best top executives we’ve seen in decades. But they’re not infallible. My ideas might not all be the best, but at least I’m thinking. And thinking on a different track.

Okay, the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention is in New Orleans next month. Please find me and say hello. I’ll be all over the convention floor. Dealers please go and participate. Take a copy of this article to the Lincoln make meetings. They’ll like that. Tell the factory guys Ziegler sends his love.

Jim Ziegler is president of Ziegler Supersystems as well as a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues. He can be reached at zieglerss@aol.com. WardsAuto readers also may comment on this article by logging in or registering below.

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Linking Social Networking For Business

Social Networking for Business does Work! I needed to mention that first to my readers and help them move beyond what may have already become an impossible or even expensive venture. I have been working with social and networking sites over last decade and in the last five years I have been implementing and testing a series of strategic processes and procedures designed and profitable for the Automotive Industry on a local dealer level. Today I want to bring to the attention of those who are or those who desire to utilize Social networking for business and need to see a return.

The process and the message can be the beginning of your success or the start of your failure, our approach to social networking and how we choose to market and/or advertise effectively must not contain any traditional type platforms that we may have had success with in the past. We have entered a new Paradigm and the Rules For Engagement Have Changed, I have monitored other industries, their do's, their don'ts and how they play by the rules inside this new Paradigm and many of us have taken an approach as a consumer…..here is where we go wrong!! The true connection must come through a chosen message to your customers and then that message must be placed everywhere your customers and potential customers are located online.

 

The viral marketing effect or the principals’ of viral marketing, for which many have already experienced success, can be manually implemented to work for your business, connecting your message and moving it across the internet, has become the end result of SCD and ASMN. The processes I have introduced to The Automotive Industry is a science, but a controlled and manageable science that can be taught, monitored and profitable through technology and the human element.

Dr. Harold Elam Jr
Bleecker Automotive Group

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http://www.dealerwebinars.com/sean2.html

Sign Up For The Webinar "The Evolution and Natural Selection of Automotive Sales" Advice From A 30-Car Guy Part 2

Wednesday October 16, 2013, 10:00am Mountain Time

Sean will provide a detailed plan of action to calculate how many calls and appointments are needed to set yourself up to sell 30 cars a month.

The automotive industry, just as any other industry in the world, evolves over time as technology advances and customer engagement changes. The way people buy cars is different now than 20 years ago, and the way dealerships sell cars is different than 20 years. What we’ve learned is that those who are surviving in the automotive industry today have survived Natural Selection because they have evolved with the times. Those who are currently struggling refuse to evolve. 

The tactics and strategies have evolved so much over the years. Those dealerships that have adjusted their processes and evaluated their vendors have not only survived the slump but have been excelling and succeeding beyond their expectations.

In this Webinar, I will be discussing the changes in the Automotive Industry and what you need to do to stay ahead of the curve. The modern sales person can’t just follow the “Road to the Sale”. They must position themselves uniquely as Entrepreneurs, mastering more than just sales techniques. I will go into depth on what that means, as well as tips and advice to better position yourself to consistently sell 30 cars every month.

Benfits from the Webinar: During this Webinar, I will provide a detailed plan of action to properly calculate how many calls and appointments are needed each month to set yourself up to sell 30 cars a month. I will discuss specific digital marketing, advertising and sales techniques that will turn a car sales person into an Entrepreneur. Using facts, examples and real life examples of success, you will learn how to properly set goals and elevate your sales success.
Presented by:

  • Sean V. BradleySean V. BradleyFounder & CEO,Dealer SynergySean V. Bradley is the top automotive trainer and consultant in the country and is currently one of the most sought after subject matter experts for Internet Sales, Business Development and Digital Marketing. Beginning as a sales consultant, Sean learned the business from the ground up holding positions at dealerships as Sales Manager, Internet Sales Manager, Special Finance Manager and Business Development Director. Furthermore, Sean is the only certified Franklin Covey Trainer and Facilitator in the Automotive Industry and a proud member of the National Speakers Association. Sean is also the creator the Internet Sales 20 Group, an intensive 3-day workshop that is designed for executive management of dealerships. Sign up at www.internetsales20group.com.

http://www.dealerwebinars.com/sean2.html

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Are you a "Hater"?

Listening to Grant Cardone, I have determined that I am 100% a "Hater". Hard thing to say and repeat out loud. I am a hater. So are you, too? If so, what are you going to do about it? I'm learning that sitting around hating on your job does nothing but kill you. If you want to increase your business, stop hating your job and do something about it.

Sean talks about the "3 Minute Book" in a lot of his references and especially today in "Make Money Monday". It's not hard to do. Make your binder and create your path. I'm learning that you must track 100% of your opportunities. Learn from your mistakes. See where you need to improve your numbers, and you'll find why you hate your job. Make yourself increase your numbers. Train yourself to be better. Strive to be the best in your store. Strive to be the best in your area. Strive to be the best in your State. Strive to be the best in the country. Set your goals. Keep your goals updated. Beat your goals. Create a better life for you and your family. 

Stop being the "Hater" we all talk about. Stop infecting the whole sales floor and look to dominate your business. Maybe you don't know you're the hater -- like me -- but just look at your numbers and see where you are and where you want to be. Make it happen. 

Go to work to WORK -- Not Hate. 

Zach 

@yourautoguyzach 

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Tim Morgan of Radley Acura Named Autobytel Dealer of the Month; Dealer of the Year Awards Slated for January 2014

Autobytel honors exceptional dealers from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers for outstanding Internet lead management and customer service standards

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 28, 2013-- 

Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq: ABTL), the company dedicated to helping automotive consumers and dealers connect online, has named Tim Morgan, General Sales Manager of Radley Acura in Falls Church, Virginia, the Autobytel Dealer of the Month for May 2013.

The company's Dealer Awards Program honors exceptional Autobytel dealers who employ the highest standards in customer service and Internet automotive retail sales and lead management processes. The Autobytel Dealer of the Year Award is slated to be announced at the NADA Convention & Expo in New Orleans in January 2014, with the crowning dealer chosen from this year's pool of monthly winners.

Tim joins Patti Scipione of M'Lady Nissan and Paul LeRose of Pauly Toyota--who were recently named Autobytel Dealers of the Month for March and April 2013--in that pool of winners.

"One of the primary reasons the Radley Acura team is so successful is the customized approach they take with every Internet customer they service," said Jeffrey Coats, President and CEO of Autobytel Inc. "Today's car buyers are unique, each with their own set of wants and needs when it comes to finding the perfect vehicle. Tim has helped implement a personalized sales process at Radley Acura--one that evaluates Internet leads individually, addresses every inquiry in a personalized way, and provides information of substance that goes above and beyond the standard price quote."

Each month, Autobytel's sales and dealer operations teams evaluate prospective candidates from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers in the Autobytel network, with a monthly winner selected based on key online automotive best practices.

Criteria evaluated for the Autobytel Dealer Awards Program include conversion rates, lead management processes, customer service principles, customer and brand retention analytics and Internet department practices, among others.

"We've learned a lot in the 10-plus years we've been an Autobytel dealer, " said Morgan. "The most important thing we've learned is how to communicate with Internet customers to gain a full understanding of what they're looking for in a new car and then guide them through the entire process of finding, buying and owning that car. Our customer service ratings and internal metrics prove we're successful, and Autobytel helps our efforts by sending us great quality leads. However, being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month, which recognizes how well we stack up against other dealers, is especially rewarding."

Radley Acura is a 27-year Acura retailer located in Falls Church, Virginia, serving the Alexandria, Fairfax and Washington, D.C. markets. The dealership offers new, used and certified pre-owned Acuras and has been a part of the Autobytel program for over 10 years. Radley Acura is a Precision Team Dealer of Distinction, the most prestigious and coveted honor that Acura can grant to its dealerships, which recognizes those dealership teams that demonstrate superior achievement in customer satisfaction, new-car-unit sales volume, business management, customer follow-up, sales and service training.

Named #1 Dealers' Choice Awards in 2012 by Auto Dealer Monthly, and a finalist of the 2013 DrivingSales Most Valuable Insight Award this April, Autobytel consistently ranks as a top quality Internet lead provider, with the company's internally-generated leads converting at approximately three times the rate of the estimated industry average.

For more information about the Autobytel Dealer Awards Program, or to learn more about the winners as they're announced, visit the "Dealer Corner" at dealer.autobytel.com. Visit www.autobytel.com to learn about the company's leading automotive information, products and services; watch exclusive new car videos, test drives and car reviews at Autobytel's YouTube page; or join the conversation on the Autobytel Facebook Fan Page.

About Autobytel Inc.

Autobytel Inc., an online leader offering consumer purchase requests, or leads, and marketing resources to car dealers and manufacturers and providing consumers with the information they need to purchase new and used cars, pioneered the automotive Internet when it launched its flagship website, www.autobytel.com, in 1995. Autobytel continues to offer innovative products and services to help consumers buy, and auto dealers and manufacturers sell, more used and new cars. Autobytel has helped tens of millions of automotive consumers research vehicles; connected thousands of dealers nationwide with motivated car buyers; and helped every major automaker market its brand online. Through its flagship website, network of automotive sites and respected online affiliates, Autobytel continues its dedication to innovating the industry's highest quality Internet programs to provide consumers with a comprehensive and positive automotive research and purchasing experience, and auto dealers, dealer groups and auto manufacturers with some of the industry's most productive and cost-effective customer referral and marketing programs.

Investors and other interested parties can receive Autobytel news releases and invitations to special events by accessing the online registration form at investor.autobytel.com/alerts.cfm.

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Quote of the Day - Possibilities

Do you ever feel this way? Especially at work? Do you have a boss who is constantly asking you to do things that seem impossible? Are you a coordinator who sees making MORE calls every day as though you are being asked to climb Mount Everest using only a licorice rope? I love this quote! Can you imagine trying to slam a revolving door? The reality is that even though that task seems impossible, it is possible with the right tools. The next thing you are asked to do that seems impossible, take a deep breathe and see if there is a way. If it still seems overwhelming, break it down. Don't think of how many calls you need to make each day. Think instead of how many calls you need to make an hour. Keep breaking it down until it is manageable. Look at it from a different perspective.

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Quote of the Day - Leadership

This is for all of you leaders out there and all of you who will be leaders in the future. The way to measure a leader is by the people who follow them. If you are over others and you lead them to success, you are successful. If you try to lead people and they despise you, you are a tyrant. To be a truly great leader, learn who you are leading. Find out what motivates them, what drives them, and what breaks them. Be the kind of leader that people want to follow. Make them want to drink the cool aid. They say that some people are born leaders. I believe that leadership is a set of skills that must be learned, practiced, and cultivated. As a leader, you should also look for leadership qualities in others under you, and work with them to develop the next leaders.

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Quote of the Day

At Dealer Synergy, we stress the importance of learning the customer's expectations and then surpassing them. Sometimes our own personal expectations get a little lost in the shuffle. That is the focus of the 3 Minute book. Set your expectations for yourself. Make some of them wild and extravagant. You may be surprised how much you will accomplish when you start picturing yourself with that kind of success. It can happen. It can happen to you. Have enough faith in yourself to know that you, and your success, are worth the work it takes to achieve it. The only real limits to your success are the limits to your own imagination and determination.

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Quote of the Day

Dreams and goals are what keeps us going. If you don't have anything to aim for, why are you even here? Setting goals and having dreams shows where to focus. Once you have your goals and dreams set, start right away to accomplish them. Setting them for the future is fine, but you have to take action immediately towards reaching them. You must also convince yourself that you will accomplish them. If you don't believe it, it won't happen. You will doom yourself to failure. Set realistic goals. Dream big with a path in mind.

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Quote of the Day

Now is the time of year when people actually remember to be thankful. Don't take things or people for granted. Someone once said, "What if you woke up in the morning and only had the things you were thankful for the day before?" If we take this approach in life, we will all be more humble and happier. If you are a leader at work, home or elsewhere, thank the people under you. If it wasn't for them, you wouldn't be a leader. If you are on the bottom of the ladder, be thankful for the leaders above you. If it wasn't for them, you would have more to deal with and you might not have opportunities that you do. We all have reasons to be thankful. Take the time to should your appreciation for the people around you. Life may go a little smoother if they are noticed.

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Quote of the Day

Failing is part of life. Failure is proof that you are trying. Each time you are unsuccessful in something, the next time you try will be better as long as you learn from your failure. Be diligent and persistent. When you fail, seek out the areas for change. Get up and try it a little different. That is how we learn. That is how we grow. That is how we find success.

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Quote of the Day

Mentoring is a wonderful thing that is often overlooked. When you decide to mentor and inspire someone, it affirms that you are on the right path. If you obtain all of the success that you could have imagined and give nothing back, the success and wealth fade away after you die. But if you take the time to help someone else, your legacy will live on. Making a positive impact in someone's life is the biggest achievement one could ever hope for. We teach things to our children so they can keep our traditions alive. Teaching someone your wisdom and knowledge in business or life will help instill those things into our future leaders.

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Quote of the Day

Failure is a state of mind. It has been said that  failure is not falling down but refusing to get up. Thomas Edison tried 10,000 times before he was successful in creating the light bulb. He said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Each time we believe we have failed at something, it is simply another step to the process. Henry Ford said, "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely." Unfortunately, most people see opportunities as work. This causes them to not try. If you get frustrated and filled with self-doubt, think how different our lives would be if the inventors of the past had let previous failures stop them. 

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Quote of the Day

Time is one of the most valuable natural resources we have. It is also one of the most misused. Time management is a vital key to success. Think of how much time is wasted daily on complaining about things that are out of our control, arguing about things that have no value, and worrying about things that may never happen. The next time you feel yourself falling into one of these traps, try reading something motivational to boost your morale, take a moment to look at the big picture and see things from another perspective, or focus on the things within your control that can make life run smoother for you and others. 

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Quote of the Day

Too often people are held back because of their fear. For some, it is a fear of failure. For others, it is fear of the unknown. Everyone struggles with different fears in all aspects of their lives. Don't let fear control the direction of your life. If you are an Internet Coordinator who is afraid of saying the wrong thing to set an appointment, you probably aren't setting as many appointments as you could. Embrace the tools you have been given. Learn your scripts and learn from the trainers & successful coordinators at your disposal. We have all been there in one way or another. 

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Quote of the Day

Choosing to have a positive attitude is one of the most important things you can do for yourself each day. I realize that some days it is easier said than done. If we make a conscious choice each day, several times a day if necessary, it will have an impact on every interaction we have. Our attitude can influence the attitudes and experience of others. Likewise, be aware that other peoples' attitudes can influence you. Try to surround yourself with positive people. Negative people can bring your spirit down. Positive people help lift your spirit and encourage you to be better than you ever dreamed. Below is the full quote by Charles Swindoll. Please share this and take it to heart.

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Quote of the Day

Setting correct goals is key to achieving success. It is good to set small, short term goals. This allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach them. It is even more pivotal to set larger, long term goals. This gives our lives direction. It gives purpose. Without setting the proper goals, the tasks and challenges we face on a daily basis seem meaningless.

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