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The Detroit News

Ford pays workers to sell cars

The automaker offers up to $1,000 if retirees, employees line up family, friends to buy vehicles.

By Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

Ford's new plan

Under Ford's plan, employees receive $50 in cash for the first sale they sponsor, $75 for the second, $100 for the third and $150 for the following four sales. They get $175 for the eighth sale, for a maximum of $1,000.

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Ford Motor Co. is offering employees and retirees up to $1,000 in cash to line up friends, relatives and neighbors to buy vehicles with employee discounts in a bid to boost slumping demand.

The automaker is allowing each of its 300,000 employees and retirees to hand out special discounts to up to eight people this year.

"If every employee and retiree helps sell just one more vehicle, it would account for over 300,000 sales and an additional two points of market share," Steve Lyons, vice president for Ford's North America marketing, sales and service, said in an e-mail sent to employees Wednesday.

Ford's move follows General Motors Corp.'s monthlong effort to pump up demand by offering all customers the same discounts it gives employees.

Under Ford's plan, which runs through Sept. 30, employees and retirees will get $50 in cash for the first sale they sponsor, $75 for the second, $100 for the third, and $150 for the following four sales. They get $175 for the eighth sale, for a total of $1,000.

The employee discounts will be added to traditional incentives, such as cash rebates. All U.S. and foreign Ford brands, including Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar, are eligible for the discounts. The automaker is trying to reverse a 5.7 percent drop in sales this year and a 1 percentage-point dip in market share to 19.1 percent.

The program comes in response to employees who told Ford officials they could sell more cars if they could give away more discounts.

Each year, Ford employees and retirees are allocated four personal identification numbers, or PINs, for A-plan employee discounts that they can distribute to immediate family members. They also get four PINS for X-plan discounts, which they can give to anybody. A-plan pricing is 3 to 4 percent below dealer invoice; X-plan prices are 1.5 percent below invoice.

Under the new plan, employees will get four additional X-plan PINs. Any combination of eight A-plan and X-plan sales will earn them $1,000. If they have PINs left over after Sept. 30, they can still give them to family and friends, but they will not be eligible for the cash rewards.

To count toward the cash bonus, a vehicle must be purchased by the end of the promotion period.

Garland, Texas, Ford dealer Jerry Reynolds is thrilled with the program because it brings in customers that don't normally buy Fords.

"It's plus business for us."

You can reach Christine Tierney at (313) 222-1463 or [email protected].
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