DETROIT - General Motors' captive finance company has created a dealers-only Web site that gives dealers everything from monthly lease payment calculations to an electronic version of the finance company's monthly newsletter.
General Motors Acceptance Corp. piloted its 'Dealer World' site with 10 dealers in the Detroit area for 21/2 months starting in March, said Mike McFall, GMAC assistant director of merchandising, advertising and communications.
While Dealer World has been available to all GM dealers with Internet access since mid-May, GMAC will start promoting it this week in the form of press releases and advertising in trade publications.
The idea is to give dealers information quickly and efficiently, McFall said,
'Information is most valuable when it is current,' he added.
The Web site (www.gmacdealer.com) can be accessed by dealers who enter their password, GMAC branch code and dealer code.
The site has several features. For instance, dealers can review and sign up for training classes when they click on GMAC Educational Services. GMAC Advantage is an electronic version of GMAC's newsletter for dealers, and SmartBoard is a place for dealers to post messages and exchange ideas.
While Dealer World offers dealers a variety of information, its NetQuote is by far its most popular feature, McFall said.
NetQuote allows dealers to calculate monthly SmartLease payments online. The user clicks on the NetQuote icon and chooses a specific make and model vehicle. The user fills in information such as vehicle price, down payment, customer's credit rating, trade-in value, credit life and/or disability insurance and an extended service contract.
Within seconds, NetQuote will factor in all applicable national or regional incentives, residual values, sales taxes and interest rates and will calculate a monthly payment.
NetQuote is a valuable tool for dealers because its database is updated daily with new regional and national incentive programs. Also, it automatically calculates residual values, eliminating manual calculations that are time consuming and prone to error.
During the pilot phase, participating dealership managers and/or their finance and insurance representatives tried out NetQuote using different real-life finance scenarios.
DEALERS OFFERED HINTS
Users critiqued the system and made suggestions about how it could be more useful, McFall said.
For instance, users told GMAC that it took too long to download information. Also, they wanted a mechanism that allowed them to see what information they had previously entered rather than having to start the process all over again. GMAC shortened the download time and created an area on the screen that shows information previously entered.
'We continue to get messages from dealers; we knew it wouldn't be absolutely perfect,' McFall said. 'We test, we learn, and we get better.'
Kevin Yzquierdo, sales manager at Al Serra Auto Plaza in Grand Blanc, Mich., is among those who participated in GMAC's pilot program.
He said he often played around with NetQuote from his home computer during the wee hours of the morning after his children were asleep and the house was quiet.
He says it is a great concept.
'I got comfortable real fast,' he said. 'It's a phenomenal tool. It will revolutionize how we work with customers.'