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8/29/2006
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In Focus: Chrysler Scorecard Gets Auto Dealers Firing on All Cylinders

Freda Bane-Prastitis explains the evolution of Chrysler's scorecard project--from human beings actually cutting and pasting information to the new interactive version that lets dealers, company field force managers and Detroit-based executives drill down on the metrics.

The Chrysler Group has developed a monthly scorecard that tracks the performance of more than 4,200 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships in the United States and Canada. Freda Bane-Prastitis, director-dealer relations and development, explains how the project evolved and how it's aligning the manufacturer and its dealers around shared goals.

What was the objective of the dealer scorecard project?

We wanted one view of our dealerships across the key metrics that are important to our business, including sales, service, parts, finance and customer satisfaction. We had a multitude of reports in each area, but we didn't have one report that had all the key metrics.

You replaced a first-generation scorecard launched in early '04. Why the upgrade and what did it entail?

The first scorecard was a PDF-based report that had to be manually updated every month--meaning human beings had to actually cut and paste information into a view. It was a static report with no drill-down capability; it was a quick fix, but it really didn't meet our needs.

In mid-2004 the scorecard was turned over to my team, and the directive was to make it interactive and automated. We had to identify all the sources of data for the metrics, and we were asked to launch the new scorecard within about six months. Given the time constraints, we brought in Latitude Consulting Group, which had developed several applications for our [custom] Dealer Connect portal. They knew our systems and helped us identify where the pieces of data were coming from and which snapshots in time we would move into the data warehouse automatically each month.

In what ways is the new scorecard interactive?

The dealers, our field force managers and our executives here in Detroit can drill down on the metrics [using predefined reports and queries developed in Business Objects]. If you want to look at a dealership's retail sales, for example, you can see the trend for the current year, you can look at their past year's sales and you can find out if they're selling more or less of a specific model, so you can troubleshoot if they're having a problem in a particular area. It's a 1,000-point system, and we assign points based on where each dealership falls on each of the 37 metrics we track. We have eight [regional] business centers across the country, and we tell the dealerships where they rank within their business center and where they rank nationally in percentiles for each metric.

Is the scorecard aligned to strategic goals?

Many of the metrics on the dealer scorecard are the same metrics our business centers have on their scorecards for the corporation, so district managers in the field and their managers get to see how dealers are performing on the metrics for which they're held accountable. And of course that rolls up into our scorecards here at the corporate level.

Have you developed any scorecard-related incentives for dealers?

We have an annual Dealer of the Year award program, and a number of those awards are now tied to scorecard metrics. There's an award for the top store and top dealership, and we also have awards for the top sales, service, parts and finance department managers. We held eight regional banquets where we honored the top-three dealerships across each franchise and the top-three managers across each of the four key departments. Those finalists went to the national event in March.

Are dealers embracing the scorecard internally?

Our dealerships are all privately owned and each one does things a little bit differently. We do know that nearly 60 percent of our dealers now view the scorecard on a regular basis. Those that are truly competitive are probably more in tune with how points are assigned and the latest scores, but it has helped many of our dealers focus on each part of the business, how they can improve and how they can become more well-balanced as a dealership.

Outtakes:

What do you collect?

I am known around the office as the audio-phile. I have nearly 12,000 songs on my iPod. I also enjoy photography; the walls of my office are covered with pictures of my family.

Most rewarding recent work experience?

I enjoy mentoring Hispanic women through the DaimlerChrysler Hispanic Employee Network, which attracts and inspires women at all levels of the corporation.

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