Mercedes-Benz has reached and, in many cases, surpassed the standards for automobiles. But that wasn’t the case for its IT infrastructure in Canada.
With 14 retail and service locations across the country, Mercedes-Benz Canada believed it impossible to provide a standard desktop experience for
Enter little known QuietTouch Inc., a reseller based in Toronto. QuietTouch has been in business for 20 years and became a partner of Citrix Systems Inc. just five years ago. Company president David Templeton always maintained a focus on customer ROI and believed that the Citrix MetaFrame technology could provide a low cost LAN or WAN solution for data repositories for large customers.
Mercedes-Benz Canada was that large customer and became an early adopter of the MetaFrame solution.
“”We did a pilot at Markham Mercedes, a flagship store with high volume sales. We customized a solution, which basically has grown. This is the message. It has grown across all stores and Mercedes saved money on a centralized solution through a utility model that QuietTouch runs at its Toronto-based data service centre,”” Templeton said.
The result? Mercedes-Benz Canada has estimated that the Citrix access infrastructure solution has halved the dealerships’ related IT hardware and support costs, according to John Westcott, the CIO of Mercedes-Benz Canada.
Before QuietTouch became involved, Mercedes was running on a client/server model and the dealership, itself, had to manage the system, which admittedly they did not have the talent to do.
“”We do it from a centralized site and run it from there, and Mercedes — they sell cars. That is what they do. They do not want technical problems,”” Templeton said.
The Citrix system may have looked simple to enabled Mercedes-Benz Canada, but it helped them to sell cars in a timely manner, Templeton said. Sales personnel can now access all applications from their desktops to do proper credit checks, special pricing, finance options, and test-drive scheduling.
The next step was to take the system and implement it into the service bay. Mercedes service professionals now have access to technical information online, all schematics and they can receive technical bulletins.
“”You can book your car in and bring you into the service area and they already know everything about the car,”” Templeton said.
He said this system saves Mercedes-Benz Canada more than $400,000 a year just on communications, and has increased sales over last few years by several hundred per cent.
In terms of margin made on this deal, Templeton said it was hard to tell, but the key is offering services and building upon the company’s recurring revenue business model.
He added that Citrix margin is between $1,000 and $2,000 per seat depending on the situation and Mercedes-Benz Canada had 500 seats.
QuietTouch also installed IBM 5100 Netvista servers and dual processor Xseries machines along with Neoware thin clients. Dealer management system software for parts ordering, customer service and sales was also installed. Packages of Office 2000 and Internet Explorer from Microsoft, Lotus Notes 5.0, Electronic Parts Catalogue, Workshop Information System, Vehicle Credit application CRM and Desking tool was part of the solution mix at Mercedes-Benz Canada.
QuietTouch also hosts Mercedes-Benz’ Web site and Templeton said it gets 11,000 hits per second.
At Mercedes-Benz Canada, the Citrix-based system has helped the dealership accomplish its customer excellence goal and has set new disciplines for sales people.
According to Templeton, sales agents have to be quicker and must respond to customers faster.
“”The customer buying experience is exceptional. They can turn around a sale very quickly. Technology is a weapon to do more business. Through Citrix and (the company’s own) best practices it was able to achieve that,”” he said.