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 AutoTrader.com 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.
|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|
|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|