Stoneage.com today will unveil an online feature that will tell its new-car customers if the vehicle they configure exists and where it is located.
Bud LaCombe, Stoneage.com's COO, said the problem with many new-car Web sites is that they encourage consumers to configure a new vehicle, but the vehicle often does not exist. The Road to Ownership, though, will search dealers' inventory, which also will be updated frequently.
Consumers provide their names and addresses and details about the vehicle they want, including optional equipment, color and price. Customers also indicate how far they are willing to travel to purchase the vehicle.
Stonage.com then will list all vehicles that meet those requirements.
LaCombe said the inventory database will be updated two or three times a day to ensure that consumers have access to current inventory.
Stoneage.com also will filter consumers' names and addresses through a national database that will yield credit risk information to help dealers determine customers' financing needs.
The Road to Ownership will cost dealers $20 to $35 per lead, depending on how much customer detail the dealer wants. LaCombe said the company still will offer dealers non-inventory-based leads.
Stoneage.com is a Troy, Mich., Internet referral company that sends new- and used-car buyers to dealers who subscribe to the service. LaCombe said the company is profitable, generating $18 million in revenue in 2000.
"The referral model is not going away; it's evolving," he said. "This is referral plus. We've got more integrity in the lead; we've moved from the hypothetical model."
Dealers representing 1,500 franchises subscribe to Stoneage.com, LaCombe said. The Web site attracts about 1.6 million visitors and generates 120,000 new-car purchase requests for its dealers a month, he said.