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Being a Lincoln dealer in the 21st century has been anything but easy, as Ford has been looking to shed its luxury brand dealers the past couple years. Then Blue Oval recently killed off Mercury, a brand Lincoln dealers traditionally used as a feeder program. And perhaps the biggest challenge has been coaxing buyers into the showroom, as the brand's 2010 sales total of just 85,828 units clearly illustrates.

The sledding apparently won't get much easier for 2011 either, as Automotive News reports that Ford has added a few more regulations to be completed by October of this year. Fortunately, at least one of those standards is focused directly towards customers, as each Lincoln dealer will be required to feature owners' privileges perks like a car wash with every service stop and a loaner for when vehicles are being worked on. Ford will also ask each Lincoln dealer to have a dedicated service manager and sales staff. That could be a tough pill to swallow for dealers who have Ford and Lincoln stores on the same site. Lincoln dealers will also be required to ditch all that old Lincoln-Mercury signage and instead feature a Lincoln-only sign featuring the four-pointed star. Lastly, all dealer lots will need to be filled with at least 30-percent certified pre-owned vehicles.

Those demands don't sound all that unreasonable to us, but we're betting Lincoln dealers won't be too pleased with the prospect of spending more money without a lot of new products in the next year or so. Then there is the fact that Ford is reportedly looking to cut another 100 dealers in the top 130 markets in the year ahead. But while dealers likely won't love these changes, there may not be much choice in the matter. Dealers who don't comply with the new rules will reportedly receive smaller discount profit margins.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req.]