After eight years of meetings and negotiations regarding new requirements for Lincoln Automotive franchise dealers, the owners of Ken Stoepel Ford have made the difficult decision to relinquish the Lincoln brand beginning in January.
“Back in 2011, the corporate marketing team for Lincoln decided it was necessary to differentiate the Lincoln brand from the mass brand of Ford,” Massey said. “Lincoln then emerged as a luxury product and was promoted as such, with stringent requirements being placed on all dealers to support the new brand image. We at Ken Stoepel Ford were able to adhere to all of those requirements until recently, when Lincoln unveiled a new ‘facility requirement’ as part of the franchise agreement.”
Having recently purchased six and half acres of land adjacent to the existing dealership, Massy said he and dealership owners Ron and Gerry Stoepel felt they would be able to build on the newly-acquired land and open a new Lincoln dealership.
“But in order to comply, you would have to build to the specifications set forth by Lincoln for a Vitrine Certified building and we realized that would not be possible for us, or any small, independent dealer,” Massey said. “No matter how many ways we tried to justify the expense, the return on investment just wasn’t there.”
Massey said even though Lincoln represents only 9 percent of new vehicle sales for the dealership, the decision to give up the franchise was an emotional one.
According to Massey, the price tag on a Lincoln-approved building was estimated to be in excess of $3 million.
“It was a difficult and personal decision for Ron and Gerry, but we really had no choice,” Massey said. “It’s emotional to give up a franchise that you’ve owned since 1969. We are sad for the family and we are sad for our customers.”
While choosing to give up the Lincoln brand has its negatives, Massey said the positives that accompany the decision are great.
“What’s best for us and our consumers is to resign the Lincoln brand and become a bigger, better Ford store,” Massey said. “We’ve begun clearing the property we purchased across the street, which will allow us to increase our inventory level on the Ford side. We’ve also just begun a Quick Lane expansion project and will be almost doubling the size of our current service area and will still be a certified service provider for Lincoln.”
Massey said the Kerrville community will see many exciting changes happening soon at Ken Stoepel Ford and he and the Stoepel family will now will be looking to a bright Ford future.
Ken Stoepel acquired the Ford franchise in 1966 and added Lincoln in 1969.
The dealership has always operated as a family-owned business, with multiple generations of Stoepels working at the dealership. Since Ken’s death in 2007, Ron and Gerry share ownership and continue to be active in the day-to-day operations.