Chrysler Group will reorganise its field operations from January 1, adding three Regional Business Centres (RBCs), replacing the current zone office structure.

The move is designed to more closely align the field organisation with the company's corporate sales and brand marketing team structure and improve communications between the company's Auburn Hills headquarters, field organisation and dealers.

Each centre can make decisions about vehicle content, incentives and marketing elements in its region.

"The market requirements for selling trucks in Texas are different from those in New York, so why should we try to apply a national sales and marketing approach equally to both of the regions?" said Chrysler sales chief Gary Dilts.

"We'll give the regional business centre management the resources necessary to make the smart decisions in order to respond quickly to local market demands. They'll be responsible for managing significant advertising, incentive, product and distribution decisions."

The business centres will have their own finance, legal, marketing, parts & service, fleet, customer relations, training and warranty staff.

"The restructuring of our field organisation is being done in an effort to more directly service our dealers and their local markets," said Dilts. "The resulting organisation will be leaner, faster and more responsive."

DaimlerChrysler opened its current network of five regional centres in March 2001, located in Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Florida, and Dallas.
The expanded network will add offices in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and Denver and absorb staff from the 24 zone offices.

The plan replaces the 24 individual zone offices supporting 78 dealer operations managers with a more efficient field marketing organisation.

At present, the 24 zone managers have responsibilities for all aspects of the dealer relations business.

Under the regional business centre system, each RBC will have a service & parts Manager, field operations manager, marketing manager and dealer network manager with dedicated management staffs.

The current zone managers will be redeployed to one of the three areas of responsibility, allowing them to focus on one specific discipline to meet the needs of the dealers.

A Chrysler spokesman said the regional centre concept had been accepted so readily by staff and dealers that the company has shortened the change-over process from two years to just 90 days.

Chrysler Group anticipates operational savings from the consolidation of facilities and other fixed assets.  The company has offered relocation and continued employment in a regional business centre to all affected zone office employees.