Michael Baker says he is “trying to get creative online at the dealership level.”

That includes new efforts to use website videos not only to pitch vehicles but also to tout the dealership and its various services.

“I envision more videos integrating online with the different dealership departments,” says Baker, CEO of the Bob Baker Auto Group in San Diego, CA.

Relatively few dealers use online videos. Those that do tend to focus on vehicle sales. But a dealership's service department is one of its biggest profit centers.

“Having a video featuring a short message from a service advisor talking about his department can build trust as well as introduce him by name and face,” Baker says at a J.D. Power and Associates Internet conference in Las Vegas.

“You don't want the advisor rambling on, but a message showing sincerity and appreciation is beneficial,” Baker tells Ward's.

“Explain why it is important to go to a dealership for service. Say why 15,000 and 30,000 mile maintenance is important,” he says. “Tell why they should consider going to your body shop.”

Several new services help business post videos across the Internet. “They can stitch videos and throw them to hub sites and all the stores' sites,” Baker says.

“Videos are one of the most popular online activities,” says JP Colaco, senior vice president-advertising for Hulu, an online video network. “Videos are getting close to email in terms of online usage.”

Fifty-five percent of auto purchasers watched an automotive video prior to buying, says Jamie Byrne, a marketing manager for YouTube, which has 1 billion video views a day.

Each of Baker's seven dealerships has its own site as well as umbrella sites. He also uses links to and from YouTube.

“YouTube has great advantages,” he says. “For one thing, it is owned by Google. So a video is sitting there next to searched videos, and next to that can be a linked to the dealership website. If someone is searching for, say, an '06 Volkswagen Jetta, there it is on YouTube.”

Baker also is starting to use voice-overs with online vehicle photos. “It's not hard to include a voice-over from the used-car manager saying something like, ‘The backseat of this car looks like it has never been sat in.’”

Another use of e-photos at Baker's stores is snapping shots of customers taking delivery of their purchased vehicles.

The photo is emailed to the customer who spurred by pride of ownership presumably will forward it to family and friends. Because the photo shows where the vehicle was purchased, it provides a plug for the dealership.