Navistar eager to roll out Digital Dealer ecosystem as part of service solutions transformation

user-gravatar Headshot
Updated May 2, 2024
Fabio Souza, Navistar’s executive vice president, Service Solutions
Fabio Souza, Navistar’s executive vice president, Service Solutions, speaks during the company's 2024 Service Solutions Expo in Kissimmee, Fla., last week.

Navistar’s dealer channel is undergoing a customer solution revolution.

With new technology being rolled out to make service events more proactive than reactive, coupled with improvements across the company’s supply chain, an expansion of dealer services and more, the truck maker believes it is in the midst of major transformation.

During its recent 2024 Service Solutions Expo in Kissimmee, Fla., Navistar’s leadership shared its progress toward delivering a best-in-class experience focused on consistency and increased uptime for customers across its more than 700 location North American dealer network.  

“We are in a journey to move our business from selling parts to selling complete solutions to our customers,” says Fabio Souza, Navistar’s executive vice president, Service Solutions. “We don’t only want to support our customers by selling parts or providing service; we want to provide a complete solution customers can rely on all the time.”

[RELATED: Navistar's Carlbaum talks inevitability of electrification at TRALA meeting]

Souza pitched the complete solutions idea to the company’s dealer network in 2023, stating the industry norm of waiting for customers to come to dealers with parts and service needs was far too passive in eliminating downtime. He stressed to the company’s dealers that change was not only possible but essential — and that the parties could join forces to create real change.

Digital Dealer is the first result of that cooperation.

Developed with collaboration between International and IC Bus dealers and Navistar, Souza says Digital Dealer is a digital ecosystem that interfaces with a dealer management system (DMS) to enable service advisors to better schedule preventive maintenance service and repairs, part and technicians ahead of time, create leads for future parts and service opportunities and more.

Souza says the goal with solution isn’t to fully replace how dealers and customers interact today, but reduce the amount of emergency unit down jobs making their way through dealer shops. To create a solution that will improve future interactions, schedule service in advance of breakdowns and bolster overall dealer and fleet relationships.

[RELATED: How to build best practices for tough customer requests]

“We need to change from being reactive to proactive,” he says. “It requires a lot of investment. It requires a lot of data. It requires a lot of systems. It requires new processes. What I can promise you is that we are putting everything in place to work in that way.”

An important part of this new way of working strategy, Souza adds, is investing in bundled solutions and the “orchestration” of data systems and processes. That means putting a lot of basics into place, like the need for integration and a new repair system, improved diagnostics, improved parts pricing and improved parts tracking.

IC Bus interior and view of dashNavistar recently welcomed its International and IC Bus dealers to Kissimmee, Fla., for its 2024 Service Solutions Expo.

“We know where we want to go,” Souza says. “We have a crystal-clear road map, and we also have a clear understanding of the situation today.”

When Souza first pitched the concept at Navistar’s 2023 Service Solutions Expo, dealers were skeptical but willing to listen. He says dealers were open to a tool that would increase shop throughput and customer uptime but weren’t sure how it could be built.

Which is why Navistar has developed Digital Dealer with its dealer input. Souza says by bringing dealer representatives into the project — listening to their thoughts and concerns, developing the product explicitly to meet their needs — he’s confident the finished project will reap major rewards across the company’s entire network.

“We believe it could increase productivity by 25%. In a 20-technician shop, that could be another $1 million in the dealer’s pocket by the end of the first year,” he says.

And to ensure that success moving forward, Navistar has been and continues to put in the work. Thus far, the OEM has invested more than 9,000 hours in the development of Digital Dealer and has put a team in place to develop procedures and pilot projects. 

Navistar is also investing in a new parts pricing system, will open a new parts distribution center in Washington state and is releasing bundled solutions for all vehicles equipped with the International S13 Integrated Powertrain.

Throughout 2024, Navistar will begin pilot implementation of Digital Dealer for 70 dealer locations in the U.S., with the hopes of having all dealers using the product by mid-2025, Souza says. Other Digital Dealer modules, for parts managers and technicians, also are in development, with rollout plans scheduled in the years ahead. 

Souza adds the Digital Dealer service advisor module will provide two lead categories — safety campaigns that dealers can use marketwide and fleet-specific leads presented to dealers to use directly with customers. The latter is a key element to a total service solutions platform, he says.

Ed Reitman, dealer principal from West Michigan International, and Navistar’s early Digital Dealer pre-pilot, initially had his doubts about this new way of working. West Michigan was the first dealership to test Digital Dealer in the U.S., with Navistar’s Service Solutions team spending week after week, month after month since June 2023 co-creating the Digital Dealer program with the dealer team.

[RELATED: Learn more about 2023 Successful Dealer Award finalist West Michigan International]

“I appreciate the opportunity to be one of the first pilots,” Reitman told dealer parts and service attendees last week’s Expo. “At first, I didn’t think this was going to work, but they proved me wrong.”

“The real value of the program and how it was developed is that it was done with our team,” he added. “I think sometimes we get the idea that programs are just designed at Navistar headquarters and shelled out to the dealer network, but that was not the case at all. These guys were at the dealership probably every other week for months. That helps you see the big picture, rather than just looking at it from the service side or from just the parts side. You work at it together. That’s the success of the program.”

Since coming onboard, Reitman said his location that is piloting Digital Dealer is outperforming another West Michigan location by nearly 5%.

“It does work. The bigger thing is what it’s doing for your customers,” he said.

Souza also touched on the customer advantage. The Digital Dealer solution is a dealer tool to drive end user success.

“More and more we are seeing that everyone is aligned. This is a win, win, win,” he says. “Good for Navistar, good for our dealers and even better for our customers.”

Learn how to move your used trucks faster
With unsold used inventory depreciating at a rate of more than 2% monthly, efficient inventory turnover is a must for dealers. Download this eBook to access proven strategies for selling used trucks faster.
Used Truck Guide Cover