The Hendrick Automotive Group sold 11,154 vehicles online in 2003. Matthew Belk, e-business director of the 43-dealership chain, thinks the company can exceed the 15,000 mark this year.

It’s an ambitious goal for the dealer group. Hendrick sold 11,000 vehicles online in 2003.

To help him better keep track of what he spends per unit sold, Belk has developed an in-house revenue finder system. Basically, it’s a daily log of the leads that come into the Hendrick stores – walk-in traffic, phone calls and e-mails.

Matthew Belk

The sales staff log all of the information, then Hendrick-built software analyzes it.

The system allows Belk to know which third parties are pulling their weight.

He’s also experimenting with eBay Motors, an online auction house, to help turn used vehicles faster.

“Certain stores do real well with it, but it is a real labor of love because there is so much time involved,” he says. “It silently has become a monster for us, though.”

Belk pushes used units that may not turn as fast (ranging from expensive to cheap vehicles) through eBay. The margins aren’t as good, but the dealer group is saving money by turning the vehicles faster, he says.

The group will be launching a Hendrick-branded auction on eBay Motors sometime this year. It’s just another idea he’s playing with.

But the labor of love may be the website. The site is set up to make it easy for customers to navigate and conduct vehicle searches. Belk also showcases the Hendrick dealerships on the site. Several of them are high-end facilities that provide amenities such as playrooms and coffee shops for customers.

‘We’re just trying to show off the facilities, our people and the customer-friendly culture,” says Belk.

He also likes to promote the Hendrick NASCAR racing team on the site. “Racing is big in the areas where we’re located. The racing helps us brand ourselves better,” he says.

cbanks@primediabusiness.com