Team Ford acquires Lincoln Mercury

Mike Mirte was surprised by Team Ford/Lincoln Mercury.

On a recent sunny Saturday, he was in no mood for shopping for cars, much less dealing with the car salespeople that go with the errand.

"My wife wanted a new car, and we're a Ford family, so we found ourselves here," he said, talking of the newly merged Team Ford Lincoln Mercury, located at 5445 Drexel Road.

And it was not only better than he expected, he and his wife are planning a return trip to purchase a Ford F-150 2010 SVT Raptor.

"They didn't bother us," Mirte said. "They turned us on to a Raptor, and we didn't know much about them before. But they were so informative and not pushy, we're changing our plans to replace her car for a bigger truck for me."

That's just what Team Ford's success is built on, customer satisfaction, said Steve Olliges, president of Team Ford Las Vegas, which is now Team Ford Lincoln Mercury.

"We have no sales people," said Olliges, a longtime Las Vegan and competitive driver. "We have always tried to hire a lot of women, which is unique to the car business. Since we opened Team Ford in 2000 we have always tried to hire people that have exceptional people skills no matter what fields they were in previously: car business, golf pro, restaurant. We look for reliable people with a great work ethic."

Team Ford purchased the Lincoln Mercury franchise this spring from Desert Auto Group when that company contacted him looking to sell the franchise locally. It was a call he'd been waiting for.

"I had always wanted Lincoln Mercury; it's a Ford-owned product," Olliges said. Team Ford has gained quite a bit with this acquisition.

"We have more people coming in and more products, a huge service department, we hired half their staff and are hiring more sales people," Olliges said.

Team Ford employs 120 people currently and is looking to hire about another 20, he said.

"Dealerships are still consolidating during these rough economic times," he said. "Team is adding two franchises to make it stronger financially so it can continue to be an integral part of the community it serves."

Ford reported a 43 percent increase in U.S. sales in February. The brand has also experienced a 74 percent jump in fleet sales to businesses.

Of Team Ford Lincoln Mercury's accomplishments, it is the top seller of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor truck in the nation. Team Ford is the No. 1 Raptor store in the United States. Olliges is part of the professional driving team for the off-road pickup, and has a lot of enthusiasm for its abilities in the Nevada and California deserts.

With its acquisition of Lincoln Mercury, Team Ford is looking to make more changes to its Centennial Hills location. The state-of-the-art facility is being upgraded this summer to increase its customer service abilities.

Olliges, A Las Vegan since he was 6 years old, graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1986. He moved to San Diego after college, where he began selling Fords. He returned to Las Vegas in 1989, working for Friendly Ford and learning the ropes of the business. He worked his way to general manager there. Under his leadership, the store rose to No. 1 in Nevada customer satisfaction and new vehicle sales.

Olliges takes his love of his job home with him and into the surrounding deserts. When not on the car lot, Olliges races off-road for Ford Motor Co. He was a factory driver on the famous Rough Rider Team as well as on the current Ford Raptor Team, which he has been running.

"I have been fortunate enough to win the Baja 1000 along with seven championships," Olliges said.

He was hand-picked by Ford when they came to Las Vegas to open a fourth point business more than a decade ago.

"I was fortunate enough to be chosen and be given the opportunity," Olliges said. "We came up with the name "Team" because of all the cool connotations and everyone here is a team, working together to earn business, and having fun together while doing it."

Olliges wants customers to feel comfortable when they are shopping for a car, and offers these tips to those considering buying a new or used car.

"It would maybe help for someone to check with their own bank first to see if they are preapproved and look into websites that show realistic trade-in values for a vehicle," he said. "Also check up on the dealership's customer satisfaction rating as well as their community and neighborhood involvement."

The bottom line for Team Ford Lincoln Mercury is the customer's satisfaction, which is why they are often the top sellers in Nevada and the nation, Olliges said.

"I love to help people," he said. "I consider myself the person that rarely tells anyone no, and I enjoy how great this town has been to me and my family. I love to give back in every way I can."