Celebrating 60 years of service this year, Lidtke Motors in Beaver Dam is more dedicated than ever to providing luxury Lincoln vehicles with top-quality customer service. “It’s a big decision and big investment to buy a car—especially a Lincoln. We help our customers through the process, so it’s comfortable and most importantly, enjoyable,” says Tim Welch, General Manager. A division of the Ford Motor Company, Lincoln is known for luxury sedans, crossover SUVs, and the Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicle. On their lot, Lidtke Motors offers a range of new vehicles—all Lincoln models—as well as pre-owned—a mix of Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, and other makes.
Opened in 1955 by farmer-turned-car-salesman Herb Lidtke, Lidtke Motors has always sold under the Lincoln-Mercury brand. It is one of only three stand-alone Lincoln dealers in the state, and now run by Herb’s children—Tim, his son-in-law; Renee, his daughter; and Paul, his son. Although Herb, who is still a charismatic presence at age 92, and his wife, Evaline, continue to visit the office to keep an eye on their beloved business. The dealership is independently owned; although as a franchise, they are under certain guidelines set forth by the Lincoln Motor Company. Lidtke owns the cars on their lot, as do other dealerships, and pays their own employees, while Lincoln provides the framework for delivery standards, employee training, and ensures the dealership is on par with the brand. “It’s a good thing, because it puts all the dealers, both big and small, on the same level,” affirms Tim.
Excellent service is what Lidtke Motors has always been known for. “A luxury car gets more treatment, and Lincoln is a luxury product. We do our best to represent and uphold the brand,” says Tim. Lincoln provides two years of free maintenance—including oil changes and tire rotation—on all new and certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. That includes free car washes, free pick-up and drop-off, and free loaners when cars are in the shop for longer repairs. Their attention to service has earned them a President’s Award from Lincoln, which is determined by consumers and given for superior customer service.
During the financial crisis and recession, Lidtke Motors found their dedication to providing top-notch service paid off. “People stopped buying cars—let alone more expensive cars, like Lincolns, says Tim. “But the good thing for us is that cars always need repairs.” This period hit Lidtke Motors hard, especially when in 2010, a large share of their business disappeared when Ford discontinued the Mercury brand. However, they found it a good opportunity to focus on other parts of the business outside of car sales. “We found we could put even more effort into our service and body shop,” says Tim. “Thanks to the work of Herb, we’ve always done a very good job with service. That’s what has maintained us through the hard times.” The majority of their 15-person staff works in the service areas—a few of who have been with Lidtke Motors for more than 45 years.
Shifting the focus from new to used vehicles also helped Lidtke Motors survive the down economy. Over the past few years, CPO vehicles have become very popular with customers because they are less expensive than buying new, but come with longer warranties. Tim estimates about 70 percent of their used car sales are CPOs, and it seems to be a growing trend. According to Manheim, a vehicle auction company, sales of CPO vehicles are expected to hit a fourth straight year of record sales in 2014
[at the time of this writing]. At Lidtke, that’s good news for customers, as their pre-owned car fleet provides more options with the inclusion of Lincoln, Ford, and Mercury models.
For Lidtke Motors, good customer service requires full transparency. With the Internet offering instant access to car research via sites like Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides, more consumers are doing car research beforehand. “Potential buyers are coming to the dealership more knowledgeable than ever,” says Tim. “But since the information out there can be varied, we need to have full transparency during the sales process with our customers.” Lidtke Motors is also trying to do their part to educate customers. Tim writes a car column for Inspire , a women’s magazine in Dodge County, touching on a different car-related topic each month. Past topics have included credit and car financing, what you need to know about body shops, and the debate between buying new versus used. He hopes to expand education efforts by sharing more wisdom on the dealership’s Facebook page.
Winter is historically slower in car sales, but the team at Lidtke Motors is gearing up for what they believe will be a busy spring. As the economy has picked up, they are seeing more returning customers come to the dealership to trade in older vehicles for newer models. As Lidtke Motors has always done, they will be continually testing and experimenting to offer the best selection of vehicles for their customers. This includes the new 2015 Lincoln MKC, which actor Matthew McConaughey made headlines for in a series of ads last year. Bringing a younger clientele to a historically older brand has injected Lincoln with new energy and an expanded customer base for their franchises.
For Lidtke Motors, it all comes back to customer satisfaction in all aspects of their business. “We subscribe to the old adage—treat others as you want to be treated. When something happens, you know that we are going to be there, because service is always number one for the Lidtke family and staff,” states Tim.
Holly Whittlef is a freelance designer and writer who lives in Madison, and blogs about her love of good design and food at Hollis Anne.