Senior business and information-technology managers from Ford’s 500-strong U.K. dealer network are urged to concentrate on providing an enjoyable and positive online experience as well as good customer service, both pre- and post-transaction.

The more than 100 dealers attended the company's second profitability and technology conference, exploring new opportunities to improve efficiency and customer communication through the use of cutting-edge technology and online resources.

Belinda Poole, senior industry head-Google Automotive, told the dealers most customers conduct their car-buying research online and will decide on their desired make and model before ever stepping into a dealership.

“One of the most exciting changes Google has witnessed in recent years is the fact that over 20% of Internet car searches on Google now occur on a mobile or tablet-based device,” she says.

The conference also marks the start of collaboration between Ford and the Carbon Trust, an organization helping U.K. businesses, governments and the public sector accelerate the move to a low-carbon economy through energy-saving strategies and commercialization of low-emissions technologies.

Ford says the link with the trust aims to reduce the carbon footprint of Ford’s U.K. dealer network through the adoption of new energy-efficient technology and eco-friendly processes at dealerships.

Working with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the Carbon Trust has found many dealerships can achieve cost savings of up to 10%. Installing new energy-efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling equipment can vastly reduce a dealer’s carbon footprint and the returns on investment can be surprisingly quick, the auto maker says.

“In a challenging economy, the opportunity for improving energy efficiency and reducing costs is important to Ford, its dealers and the U.K. motor industry as a whole,” Ford of Britain Managing Director Mark Ovenden says in a statement.