Chrysler Pushes Dealers to Hire More Salesmen to Reach 32% Goal

Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne
Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker operated by Fiat SpA, is pushing its U.S. dealers to hire more service workers and salesmen to help the company boost vehicle sales 32 percent this year.

“While it’s still early in the calendar year, now is the time to act,” Peter Grady, vice president of Chrysler’s network development and fleet, said in a memo to dealers this month. “Hiring additional personnel in preparation for the spring market is essential for success in 2011.”

Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is targeting global sales this year of 2 million vehicles, including 1.57 million in the U.S. The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker has begun selling new or revamped models including the Chrysler 300 large sedan, Dodge Durango sport-utility vehicle and Fiat 500 subcompact.

Chrysler, aiming to boost U.S. deliveries by 45 percent this year, has been working with its 2,311 dealers in the market to extend store hours and add quick-lube services. In February, Marchionne said 80 percent of the automaker’s U.S. dealers were operating profitability, the highest percentage since 2000.

“After analyzing our competitors and your 2010 financials, we believe there’s still some work to do,” Grady told dealers in the memo.

Chrysler’s sales staff productivity was “considerably lower” than competitors’ and the number of salesmen fell 10 percent last year while rivals increased their forces, he said.

“Chrysler underperforms by almost two vehicles per month per salesperson,” Grady said.

Service Revenue

Chrysler’s service advisers generated $8,500 less each month in sales than their General Motors Co. counterparts and $2,500 less than those at Toyota Motor Corp., Grady said.

“Peter Grady corresponds regularly with the dealer body, but we don’t discuss business operations publicly,” Ralph Kisiel, a Chrysler spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Chrysler dealers in recent months have hired 600 sales consultants, 500 technicians and almost 100 service advisers, Grady said. He said metropolitan dealerships should hire six additional sales consultants, three technicians and one service adviser.

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