Daimler Trucks North America has launched Elite Support, a collaborative program between DTNA and its truck dealers, to improve the customer experience at Freightliner and Western Star dealerships. The new program provides quality assurance, rapid diagnostics, faster turnaround times and consistent communication.

During the coming months, Elite Support truck dealerships across the U.S. and Canada will be holding open house events to share program details and show local customers the impact that this program has made on their dealership.

"Dealer standards programs from OEMs are nothing new, but dealer-driven ones are," says Martin Osborne, general manager of distribution network development for DTNA. "What sets Elite Support apart is that DTNA-affiliated dealers are using continuous improvement methods to provide the foundation and skills for dealers to address their self-identified opportunities for improvement."

To become Elite Support certified, dealers are required to demonstrate proficiency on an annual basis in 19 different areas such as Express Assessment, service and parts processes, technical and operational training and customer amenities. Currently, 79 dealers have been certified with 76 more dealers in the process of becoming certified. In most cases, dealer certification achievement takes approximately seven months.

Some of the major steps are:

- Orientation for dealer ownership and general managers
- Completion of a self-assessment by the dealership Change Management Team
- Completion of a two-day Elite Support boot camp
- Completion of a three-day Continuous Improvement Coordinator course
- Completion of all Elite Support requirements by dealership (currently 129 standards)
- Validation of standards by a third-party to achieve certification
- Post certification, dealers are required to complete quarterly continuous improvement events and monthly audits along with specific monthly metric tracking

"This collaborative program between DTNA and our truck dealerships will continually raise the bar so our end customers benefit from the improved customer service experience and standardization Elite Support offers," Osborne says. "The renewed culture of pride the program is building with our dealer partners is an added benefit."