When he first heard about using Internet search engines to promote auto service, David Priester needed little persuading to try it at Hilton Head Automotive.
All he had to do was look at his typical workday.
"The first revelation for me was: 'How many times do I use the phone book anymore?' " says Priester, business development manager for the Bluffton, S.C., dealership group. "For good or bad, I sit in front of a computer 99 percent of my day."
For service departments, paid search is an "underleveraged" part of dealership marketing, says Max Steckler, vice president of advertising products at Cobalt Group, an automotive marketing firm.
For a fee, Cobalt advises Priester and other dealerships on how to build Internet leads.
Steckler says dealers use paid search mostly for sales. Using it for service can cost less per lead because people looking for service aren't just casual shoppers.