Some dealers dislike the Internet; some dealers fear the Internet. But all dealers had better get hooked up to the Internet.
That's the word from the dealers who shared their experiences on the Wonderful World of the Web with Automotive News.
For most, Internet sales are not a huge factor in dealership volume, but those sales are growing. Some dealers can see 50 percent of sales coming from the Net in five or 10 years.
But don't tell that to Tom Vann at Team Hillsdale Chrysler-Plymouth in Hillsdale, Mich. He's at 60 percent and counting. He also teaches his selling routine to other dealers.
Lynn Kimmel of Lockhart Automotive Group in Indiana has a message that every dealership can apply to its Web site: Keep it simple, current, useful and quick to use.
Quick response to Web users is vital. Kimmel answers inquiries within an hour; her goal is 15 minutes. Even that isn't fast enough for Colin Wickstrom at Wickstrom Ford in Barrington, Ill. His goal is to answer e-mail messages as soon as they arrive.
At Ken Garff Automotive Group in Salt Lake City, Sonny Baird uses a cellular phone, a pager and a computer to respond to customers on the spot.
The Web has made believers out of a lot of skeptics. Says Rick Galles, whose family has been in the auto business in Albuquerque, N.M., since 1908: 'A year ago, I thought of the Internet as a necessary evil. Now, I just see it as necessary.'