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FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — Mercedes-Benz Financial has upgraded its First Class Finish lease vehicle turn-in process by providing the automaker's dealers with new software on their hand-held Dynamic PDA devices. The goal quite simply is to make the turn in process run quicker and more efficiently.

These PDA devices were provided to Mercedes-Benz dealers by the OEM last year, and have been used for such purposes as pre-delivery inspections of vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz has given dealers anywhere from one to four of these devices, based on the size of the individual store.

Officials explained that the new software begins a series of technological upgrades for First Class Finish, which was launched in 2009.

Basically, dealers can scan the VIN of returned leased units through the PDA to begin the final inspection, which is the first step in the new lease turn-in process.

In the previous process, this task would take 30 minutes, but now it only takes 15.

"This technology is beneficial to both the customers and the dealers because it eliminates paper forms for the dealer and is a much faster and efficient process for busy customers," shared Jeff Gartland, director of remarketing for Mercedes-Benz Financial. "We see a great opportunity to end the paper process and replace it with a green process that benefits everybody."

Mercedes-Benz dealers began using the First Class Finish process was in the second quarter of 2009.

It can eliminate vehicle's final inspection by an independent third party and is designed to provide greater clarity to customers via more communication with the dealer.

Specifically, the new process:

—Adds a brief pre-inspection at the originating dealership at about 90 days before the end of the lease term.

—Allows final inspection at any Mercedes-Benz dealership at the end of term.

—Provides final documentation and billing to the customer on the spot instead of several weeks after turning in the vehicle.

—Explains all applicable charges to the customer. 

—Allows dealers to pre-inspect the vehicle, discuss the condition with the customer and determine the customer's future intentions.

—Gives customers a preview of brand new product at the dealership.

—Lets customers know if they are eligible for loyalty pull-ahead programs, which may waive the remaining obligation on their current lease. 

"The best-case scenario that benefits the customer, dealer and Mercedes-Benz Financial is if the customer comes in for the pre-inspection, discovers that they qualify for a pull-ahead loyalty program and they drive home in a brand-new vehicle," Gartland concluded. 

Editor's note: For more details on this upgrade, stay tuned to Auto Remarketing.