The new model will give Mercedes' dealers the flexibility to invest in things they believe drive their business — whether it's traditional marketing, store improvements, service and parts or investments in digital retail platforms.
"We're not putting rules around those dollars," Slaven said. "We trust our dealers enough to know that they need those investments and where they need them, and what they want to do with them."
Reallocating the Tier 2 spending frees up "tens of millions of dollars" for dealers to use at their discretion, Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board Chairman Jeff Swickard said.
"It is really meaningful to Mercedes-Benz dealers," said Swickard, CEO of Swickard Automotive Group. "It allows us to drive our businesses, and we're not beholden to old processes that have grown less effective over time."
As business leaders in their markets, dealers can be more effective than the manufacturer in creating brand awareness, said Jeff Aiosa, owner of Mercedes-Benz of New London, in Connecticut.
"Whenever dealers are allowed to figure out how best to delight their customers — be it marketing, loaner cars, events — it is better than one-size-fits-all manufacturer initiatives that are not always good for everybody," said Aiosa, who also is the National Automobile Dealers Association brand rep.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson referred to Mercedes' strategy as a "benchmark" for the industry.
It "will be a win-win-win for Mercedes, its partner dealers and customers for the long term," Jackson said.