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Coming together: Daimler’s Elite Support program pushes for consistency in service experience

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“Any bad experience has more impact than the three great experience the customer had before. That’s why we are going to raise the bar in our dealer network,” said Friedrich Baumann, senior vice president of Daimler’s aftermarket division. It’s a sentiment that the OE is taking seriously, as it gathered dealers, customers and editors together to talk about the importance of providing a consistent, high-quality service experience.

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Daimler Dealer Elite Support

Here at Fleet Equipment, we are laser-focused on the equipment that drives your business, but as a fleet manager it’s your experiences both with the equipment and the partners, from OEs to dealers, with whom you work to keep your trucks on the road that drive your purchases. Uptime plays a critical role in what Daimler refers to as “Real Cost of Ownership” (RCO). Daimler’s Baumann put the focus squarely on Elite Support – a dealer certification process of more 120 different criteria, developed collaboratively between dealers and an internal Daimler panel, that must be recertified on an annual basis.

There are currently 179 Elite Support-certified dealer locations within Daimler’s network of 750 locations, but Baumann stressed that number will only continue to rise as the company puts not only a monetary investment, but also a “mindset” investment, behind its approach to its dealers and service locations to ensure the right people, the right leadership and right focus is put into place.

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From the dealer perspective, it’s an opportunity to improve its overall business, while providing decreased service turn-around times to its customers. Both Rick Reynolds, president and dealer principal, Peach State Truck Centers, and Brad Fauvre, president of Velocity Vehicle Group, agree that the Elite Support program was, and continues to be, essential in providing a better service product to its fleet customers.

“Where it all drives to is our metrics that we take very seriously. For us, and everyone who is a part of the Elite network, that impacts throughput time – from the second a truck hits the dealership to the time it leaves, we’re driving those turn times down,” Fauvre said. “For example, in Fontana, Calif., which is one of the biggest truck hubs in the country, our average throughput time in our shop was a little over four days, close to five days. We didn’t know this until we started with the Elite Support process and developed the metrics. Over the next year, which was 2014, that was driven down to below three days and our technician count has gone up from 45 to 80 techs.”

How exactly did the Elite Support system help Fauvre improve his turn-around times? That’s a question that’s easier asked than answered. For Fauvre, it was hundreds of little things that the process helped identify – from supply chain needs and inventory management issues to an increased awareness of the company’s overall service processes.

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“We did some value stream mapping,” Peach State Truck Centers’ Reynolds explained, “and found that we were pretty good when the truck arrived; getting the issue written up, but we were losing it once that truck needed to be scheduled and diagnosed. There wasn’t good communication with the parts department to find out if the part was the shelf or if it needed ordered. Until you start going through that detailed process and seeing the ‘waste areas,’ you’re blind to them in your day-to-day business. It is a helpful process to identify the gaps and eliminate them.”

It’s all about cutting the fat and streamlining the service process. Fauvre reported that he saw a 30 percent increase in productivity simply by identifying and then cutting the waste out of his technicians’ day.

Keep it tuned to Fleet Equipment for more updates from the Daimler aftermarket meeting, including a brand new episode of FE’s On the Road, coming soon.

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