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The Death of the Internet Dept.?

Internet departments are so yesterday. In fact, you could say Internet departments are as traditional as the showroom.

Special Report

e-Dealer 100

Internet departments are so yesterday. In fact, you could say Internet departments are as traditional as the showroom.

Years ago, Chip Perry, in one of his more memorable quotes predicted Internet departments would “go the way of the DoDo bird.”

Perry, the president of is just one of many industry observers who believed Internet departments and traditional showrooms would merge.

The Web is becoming more of an accepted part of dealership operations.

What is happening is many dealerships are folding their Internet operations along with the showroom operations into business-development centers. BDCs typically handle all of the incoming leads, whether they be phone calls, Internet purchase requests or walk-n traffic. In most cases, BDCs will do all of the follow up and set up appointments with people who contact the dealership.

But some dealerships are avoiding the BDC. The Koons Automotive Companies, whose dealerships are mainstays on the Ward's e-Dealer 100, late last year eliminated its Internet departments. For years, the group had a central department that acted as a BDC, farming the leads to the various in-store Internet sales people.

Now, general sales managers in the dealerships oversee Internet leads and distribute them among the sales staffs. Many of the Internet sales people now are working the floor, along with the Web-based leads.

Acton Toyota still uses a traditional Internet department (See story on p. 14). But Internet Director Matt Lamoureux wonders if that will change once the dealership moves into a new facility in 18 months.

“We'll likely be on the floor near the showroom,” he says. “We may see the departments merge then.” Also, as sales people become more adept at using Web-based tools, Lamoureux thinks having a blended staff makes sense.

Currently, Acton's Internet department is in a storefront adjacent to the dealership. That is due to the small size of Acton's building.

General Manager Mike Hills isn't so sure. “We'll see,” he says. He's not a fan of the BDC, calling it a “disjointed process.”

However it plays out, we likely are seeing the end of the separate Internet department.

Top 25 Dealer Groups By Internet Sales Volume
Rank Dealer Group City State New Used Total
1 AutoNation Inc. Ft. Lauderdale FL 96,561 34,949 131,510
2 United Auto Group Bloomfield Hills MI 34382 9,931 44,313
3 Group 1 Automotive (estimate) Houston TX 20,000 15,000 30,000
4 Sonic Automotive Group Charlotte NC 19,657 6,547 26,204
5 Hendrick Automotive Group Charlotte CA 18,168 5,979 24,147
6 Koons Automotive Companies Tysons Corner VA 14,893 3,494 18,387
7 The Herb Chambers Companies Somerville MA 6,771 2,902 9,673
8 Dave Smith Motors Kellogg ID 6,771 2,197 8,968
9 The Suburban Collection Troy MI 3,840 1,054 4,894
10 Gillman Auto Group Houston TX 3,835 872 4,707
11 The John Eagle Dealerships Dallas TX 3,649 976 4,625
12 The Bob Rohrman Auto Group Lafayette IN 2,421 1,802 4,223
13 Fred Haas Interests Spring TX 3,186 732 3,918
14 Victory Automotive Group Morristown TN 2,372 1,449 3,821
15 Holler Automotive Group Winter Park FL 2,695 603 3,298
16 Huffenes Auto Dealerships Plano TX 1,800 1,377 3,177
17 Galpin Motors North Hills CA 2,724 388 3,112
18 Rick Case Automotive Group Fort Lauderdale FL 2,400 600 3,000
19 Bob Baker Auto Group San Diego CA 1,663 921 2,584
20 Allen Samuels Auto Group Waco TX 1,506 910 2,416
21 Bergstrom Automotive Neenah WI 1,305 1,025 2,330
22 Hitchcock Automotive Resources City of Industry CA 2,090 145 2,235
23 Tuttle-Click Automotive Group Irvine CA 1,677 470 2,147
24 Phil Long Dealerships, Inc. Colorado Springs CO 1,080 848 1,928
25 Day Automotive Group Monroeville PA 1,072 670 1,742
TAGS: Dealers
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