Mercedes-Benz finished second last year behind BMW in the U.S. luxury sales race. But when it comes to dealer profitability Mercedes is not even in the top three, said Michael Cantanucci, chairman of the brand's dealer board and owner of three Mercedes stores in Connecticut and Florida.
"One of the main objectives of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board is dealer profitability -- increasing it," Cantanucci said. "We have established a subcommittee that we call Milestones for Profitability. We will be doing profitability modeling. We want to be the best in the Tier 1 luxury brands."
Lexus dealers are the most profitable among luxury brands, followed by Audi, BMW and Mercedes, he said.
But Cantanucci added: "We have seen quite a nice increase in the last two months because of increased sales volume and new models. We will study it carefully."
The goal is "comparing ourselves so dealers can get a fair return on their investment," he said.
The study is being done "in a cooperative spirit," with Mercedes-Benz USA. He said dealers want to complete their findings by midyear.
Cantanucci said he's certain dealers will maintain the good relations with Mercedes-Benz that they built over the past five years with former CEO Ernst Lieb, who was ousted last October for alleged ethics violations and misuse of corporate funds. Steve Cannon, former vice president of marketing, took the top job on Jan. 1.
Cantanucci said dealers support Cannon.
"Steve has built relationships with the dealer body that run deep," he said. "The continued momentum is important because we want to accomplish some ambitious targets together. We have every confidence that we have the right leadership in place, and we will."