It impresses many car customers when dealership staffers use computer tablets as a modern way to highlight sales presentations, arrange loans and write repair orders.

“All of our salespeople have them,” says Bethany Johnson, Internet manager at RBM of Atlanta, a Mercedes-Benz store. “They are very effective with customers.”

But not all shoppers are impressed with iPads and the like. Those mobile devices can flummox certain people, says Scott Krenz, senior vice president at dealership chain Asbury Automotive Group. “You pull out an iPad, and some customers react like a deer in the headlights.”

That doesn’t particularly surprise Steve Anenen, president of ADP Dealer Services, a leading information technology provider with 25,000 clients worldwide and projected revenues of $1.6 billion this year.

ADP has introduced high-tech products this year, including DriveMotion, a new-generation system that lets dealerships and customers use mobile devices to do things ranging from evaluating trade-ins to scheduling service appointments.

But Anenen realizes not all shoppers are marching into the brave new digital world.

“It’s about choice,” he says of how dealership customers want to get information.

“Dealers have to figure out which way a customer wants to go, usually based on age and demographics. Sometimes there’s an initial fear of technology.”

Then again, “it’s just another extension of the human element” when a showroom staffer uses an iPad during a vehicle-walkaround sales presentation, Anenen adds.

Customers can use the DriveMotion mobile portal in many ways, including reviewing inventory and getting price quotes on their smartphones and computer tablets before entering the dealership, says Kevin Henahan, senior vice president-marketing and strategy for ADP’s dealer unit.

“At the dealership, a salesperson can hand an iPad to a customer who wants to look up inventory or build a quote,” he says. “The customer can do those things with a mobile device or in person or go back and forth.”

Although some old-school consumers aren’t yet ready for a full digital-dealership experience, “one of the things dealerships have said to us is that they want to take advantage of computer tablets,” Henahan says. “Mobile has become pervasive. It’s an unending journey.”

sfinlay@wardsauto.com