Ronnie Shipper faces the same problem as those who have founded other Internet auto buying services.
But the rules have changed since former car dealer Pete Ellis launched Autobytel.com in 1995.
Shipper is president of Auto Buyers Assistance Inc., a small but profitable Dallas buying service with annual revenues just under $1 million. Once a company that only served Texas, Auto Buyers Assistance is trying to sign up dealers outside that state to use its Web site Autobuyersassistance.com.
The question Shipper asks himself: Does he stay small and profitable or boost promotional expenses and risk red ink?
Shipper has 150 dealer subscribers in Texas and is seeking national subscribers.
He can't go to the public market for money as Ellis did. Investors would snub another little company with big dreams about being a national auto Web site.
While it would be fun to spend millions of dollars of somebody else's money, Shipper says he is content to try a different approach.
He founded the buying service in 1989 and took it online in 1996.
In other dot-com news:
General Motors has entered a partnership with CollegeClub.com by sponsoring an auto information service on the site called AutoGuide.
The guide, which will offer automotive feature articles and information about automotive events, online clubs, message boards and chat rooms, will be launched this fall. GM will promote its programs and vehicles on the site.
Parts.com Inc., a marketplace and software provider for the auto parts industry, ended its free TradeMotion Storefront promotion and has begun billing dealerships for the software program.
Parts.com signed up nearly 2,700 dealers during its 90-day marketing campaign, offering the software free to dealers for the first year.
Staff Reporter Donna Harris can be reached at [email protected] or 540-668-7295