DaimlerChrysler Corp. dealers soon will be able to reduce the time they spend completing a deal with a customer.
Currently, with all the options, quick-order packages, incentives and information and paperwork a customer and a salesperson wade through, the process can take three or four hours, according to an internal DaimlerChrysler study.
To reduce that time, the company has developed the Electronic Sales System, computer software that puts all current information at a salesperson's fingertips.
The system was developed with the input of dealers, said Tom Peyton, DaimlerChrysler's senior manager of retail technologies in Auburn Hills, Mich. It will be available to any Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep and Dodge dealer, but not to Mercedes-Benz dealers at this time.
The objective is to make buying a vehicle easier on both the customer and the salesperson.
'The customer and the salesman will now work through this deal together, taking some of the voodoo out of it,' Peyton said. 'It's all graphic. It has nice pictures, it's easy to use and very intuitive.'
DaimlerChrysler is unveiling the new system in San Francisco this week during the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Exposition.
A handful of dealers will begin testing the new tool in a pilot program this week, Peyton said. It will be available to other dealers after the test period, but it will not be approved until it is working without any glitches, he said.
Dealers must pay for the software, and they and their sales personnel will have to be trained. Prices and training details have not been determined.
To conclude a purchase, a salesperson often must sift through catalogs and factory communications looking for current incentives, price changes or even the retail prices of accessories.
'This ends all those nagging questions like, 'Gee, did that incentive end yesterday?' Or, 'I heard there was a price change last week. Let me see if I can find the notice from the factory,' ' Peyton said.
How much time the Electronic Sales System will save is unclear. DaimlerChrysler will not know that until after the pilot program.
'In a nutshell, we were able to put all our sales, pricing and product information in one active database here at Chrysler,' Peyton said. 'Then, via satellite, we send it to our dealerships through a server we have there.'
The information is updated nightly.
'It can feed PCs out on the showroom floor to give the dealers a ton of information that they don't have access to today,' Peyton said.
That will include competitive information. If a customer is considering a Jeep Grand Cherokee, but wants to compare it with a Ford Explorer, the salesperson can use the system to call up information on the Explorer, such as cargo space and towing packages.
Peyton added, 'It gives both the salesman and the customer a sense that this is a much more professional process with great integrity.'