In its latest gambit to boost slumping sales, Ford Motor Co. (F) said that it is offering employees and retirees up to $1,000 in cash to entice friends, relatives and neighbors to buy vehicles with employee discounts.
The No. 2 U.S. automaker is allowing each of its 300,000 employees and retirees to give the 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 Wednesday to employees.
Ford spokesman Jon Harmon said Friday this is the first time that the company has offered payments to its employees for attracting customers, although it has allowed employees to pass along discounts to customers for some time.
"The response so far has been positive from employees," he said.
Under the 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, $150 for the following four sales and $175 for the eighth sale.
Ford's move follows General Motors Corp.'s (GM) recent effort to boost sales by offering all customers the same discounts available to employees.
Ford sales are off 5.7 percent this year, while its U.S. market share has fallen by a percentage point, to 19.1 percent.
Shares of Ford fell 11 cents, or 1 percent, to $11.26 on the New York Stock Exchange (search), where they have traded in a 52-week range of $9.07 to $16.48.