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Chrysler Group wants to know how well US dealers are taking care of customers. So it is dispatching an audit firm, SGS Group, to find out.
Dealers' performance will be measured in four key areas: customer care, aftersale care, facility and management.
The auditors have made preliminary visits to most dealers to establish a baseline. Audits will begin late in the first quarter.
Chrysler will reward dealers who meet standards. The company has not announced how the awards structure will work. It has not determined how the new standards will mesh with Chrysler's longstanding Five Star dealer quality program.
"This is the first time we've literally had a third-party audit to see if we're compliant with some kind of standards," said Chuck Eddy, owner of Bob and Chuck Eddy Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Austintown, Ohio, and Chrysler's NADA representative.
Chrysler officials know their service and their vehicles historically have not fared well in customer satisfaction reports or in reference guides such as Consumer Reports.