How Stellantis Improved the Dealership Experience for Customers



“The dealers adopted it pretty quickly,” said Jeff Kommor, the automaker’s US sales manager. Automotive News. “They made a commitment to use the tablet, one for each salesperson.”

The effort is part of a larger push by Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares to address the dealership selling experience, which had been a weak spot for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles prior to the January merger with the PSA Group. Tavares said Automotive News in January that if the company cannot satisfy customers with its products and services, “we don’t deserve to exist.”

FCA has struggled over the years over the study of JD Power’s US Sales Satisfaction Index, which measures the experience of buying new vehicles. But the fortunes of several of its brands, now under Stellantis, increased in the latest index, released this month. Dodge jumped into the top five and Jeep was ranked above average for mainstream brands. Alfa Romeo scored above average among luxury brands after finishing second to last in 2020. And Ram – while still below average – improved by 14 points on the mass market side.

Kommor acknowledged the rapid rollout of tablet checklists for helping to keep customers happy. He also cited stores following up on buyers after delivery and taking the time to explain vehicle technology as factors.

Stellantis is gearing up for continued progress, with initiatives such as training certified Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer ambassadors; creating an elite network of Dodge Power Brokers dealers who meet higher standards of customer service and in-depth product knowledge; and the regular roll-out of Jeep-focused showrooms as well as some stand-alone Jeep stores.

The JD Power study was based on responses from people who bought or leased a new vehicle in the spring, right at the start of the tablet initiative. It also measured satisfaction with brands and dealers that customers have bought but ultimately rejected.

JD Power said his buyer satisfaction scores have six components: the delivery process, dealership staff, deal development, paperwork completion, dealership setup and the dealership website. Concession.

“I think what’s impressive about improving the Stellantis brand is under these categories, there are these [key performance indicators], or diagnostics, which determine the score, and they were able to improve that, ”said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at JD Power.
There has been a culture shift at Stellantis, said Dave Kelleher, chairman of the automaker’s dealer board. Incentive money that once depended solely on meeting volume targets, Kelleher said, is now distributed based on customer experience.

Kelleher, president of David Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Glen Mills, Pa., Said Stellantis now wants dealers to do a second vehicle quality inspection before a sale. Products are already inspected upon delivery and software updated if necessary prior to display. Going forward, Stellantis expects stores to start over.

Kelleher said it made sense, especially if a vehicle has been on the lot for a month or more.

Stellantis has also agreed to reimburse dealers for refueling the vehicles before handing them over to the customer. That benefit was a victim of the Great Recession, Kelleher said, but it returned this year.

Steps like this move the company away from the focus on volume, large discounts and risky customers that Kelleher said were central to Chrysler’s culture when its dealership opened in 2005. Even more Recently, under CEOs Sergio Marchionne and Mike Manley, FCA hasn’t discussed customer satisfaction often or prompting dealers to make improvements, he said.

“This is all Mr. Tavares and the people who came up with the Stellantis merger,” Kelleher said. “When they looked at the state of the business, they said, ‘OK, we like it, we like it, we love it, we don’t like where we are in terms of customer satisfaction.’ And, to be honest with you, it just wasn’t a priority. “



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