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RFID Delivers Personal Service for Atlanta Car Dealer

Mercedes Benz of Buckhead is using MyDealerLot's RFID-enabled Service Drive Concierge system to identify customers and their vehicles when they come in for maintenance or repairs.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 03, 2009Automobile dealer Mercedes Benz of Buckhead, located in Atlanta, Ga., is utilizing an RFID system to provide personalized service for customers who bring in their vehicles for servicing. Since the system was installed in October 2008, customers' cars move through the service process more quickly. The dealership has also made more automotive sales, because the personalized service has prompted some patrons to purchase new cars, according to Geoff Meeker, Mercedes Benz's parking service director, who oversaw the installation.

The system includes RFID tags and interrogators, as well as several plasma screens that display personalized information for the customer, provided by MyDealerLot, a company set up to provide real-time location systems (RTLS) to car dealers, enabling them to pinpoint the locations of specific vehicles on their lots (see Atlanta Mercedes Dealership to Adopt RFID at New Location). The infrastructure required for that system, however, is too expensive for many dealers, says George Cresto, MyDealerLot's president and CEO.

What dealers are really interested in, Cresto learned while attending the 2008 National Auto Dealers Association Conference, is a system that would allow dealers selling high-value cars and trucks to provide personalized service to their customers. Based on suggestions Cresto received from some of these dealers, MyDealerLot developed the Service Drive Concierge (SDC) system now in use by several Mercedes Benz dealers in the Atlanta area. The system is also scheduled for installation at a Lexus dealership in Oklahoma.

To date, Mercedes Benz of Buckhead has placed 915 MHz passive tags complying with the ISO 18000-6C standard on the back of the rearview mirror of 1,500 vehicles, including new, unsold cars and those arriving for servicing. The company provides each customer with a tag containing a unique ID number linked to that vehicle's identification number (VIN), as well as to the customer's name in the MyDealerLot software system.

Antennas have been installed in front of each of three service lanes. One interrogator captures ID numbers from tags arriving on all three lanes. The system includes a computer provided by MyDealerLot that links the tag ID to the customer's name, then displays greetings and other information on two plasma screens within 2 seconds of the tag read. The system also alerts staff members that a customer has arrived, and in which particular lane, thereby allowing them to immediately provide personalized service.

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