Lincoln will be throwing down the luxury sales and service gauntlet to all competitors later this year with the confirmed rollout of the Black Label program in Canada.
Set to start sometime in Q4, the customer-focused program will showcase what the automaker is calling its pillars of design, personal service and quality.
Eric Bolduc, Lincoln sales and experience manager in Canada, said they are working on which Ford Lincoln stores will offer the program here but did supply a small hint as to where the retail points could be located.
“We haven’t determined how it will be rolled out. One thing for sure is the market for those types of vehicles are niche residing in the major markets,” he said.
Customers who pay extra for the Black Label experience get a number of exclusive features including free service loaners, vehicle service pick-up and drop-off by dealership staff, anytime car washes and an annual detailing free of charge.
U.S. customers are even treated to a culinary experience where partner restaurants provide a totally unique dining experience. (Canadian Lincoln foodies won’t be so lucky as that tidbit will not be a part of the Canadian plan.)
The in-store linchpin is a showroom within a showroom studio concept aimed at creating a special space where customers can sit with a Black Label consultant to review materials, options and “tailor” their vehicle.
An example of the studio was front and centre at the Ford booth in the south building. The three-walled structure is “highly configurable,” explained U.S. Black Label operations manager Paul Bucek.
The sleek design was first shown at the 2014 NADA convention. The U.S. program enrolled 32 dealers in six states – California, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Florida – as a part of its phased approach last May.
“We partnered with our 32 initial stores and wanted to make sure the program and the service was just right. In the second quarter of 2015, we are taking the program nationally (in U.S.),” he added.
The studios are meant to be more of a design centre and come complete with drawers to house material options for the vehicles.
Costs varied by store and depending on configuration, shipping and handling requirements meaning Bucek wasn’t able to put a number on the financial investment for dealers.
“There is a personnel component that requires extensive training for the sales team that includes online courses and an in-store session with a hospitality manager that will review the full gamut on creating a personal experience for customers,” he added.
Black Label dealers also must have a travelling version of the design centre where sales people armed with materials and an iPad can go to a customers home or office and configure the car on the client’s time and turf.
Bolduc said the Canadian operation is looking at duplicating the studio component for Canadian stores. He couldn’t confirm if it would be the same, but noted brand executives are looking at ways to create a special space and environment where customers can sit down with a sales consultant and have that unique, tailoring experience.
He added that the idea is to make the program available on as many Lincoln models at possible. It is unknown what vehicles will be available at launch for Canadians.
“Is as much about the product as it is about the experience we want the client to have. We want to have the highest level of client experience you can have in the automotive world and include all of the special privileges that come with the vehicle,” Bolduc said.
“Not only is it special materials and a higher level of customization, it’s about the ultimate expression of Lincoln luxury.”