The story goes that Bill Gates wanted to measure the accomplishments of Microsoft against General Motors.

He came up with this: If automotive technology had kept pace with computer technology over the past few decades, you would now be driving a V-32 instead of a V-8, and it would have a top speed of 10,000 miles per hour. Or an economy car would weigh 30 pounds and get 1,000 m.p.g. In either case, the sticker price of a new car would be about $50.

GM responded, “But would you really want to drive a car that crashes twice a day?”

Now, rather than trading barbs, computer technology and the car business are embracing each other.

With the demands of today's economy, dealerships expect their employees to continually learn, grow and add value. Investing time and money to train employees is a fundamental part of operating a dealership, but with new technology and the advent of Web-based training, it need not be a financial burden.

In today's work environment, it is sometimes necessary to bring the learning process to the workers. Web-based learning is ideal for that. Not only is it a cost-effective, it accommodates employees who lack time for traditional classroom training.

Administrative duties play an important role in a dealership's success and profitability. Until now, limited learning opportunities have been available to these vital positions.

Some of the key players offering administrative Web-based training are Reynolds & Reynolds, Dixon Odom and ADP.

Reynolds & Reynolds' Certified for Control includes online seminars and live classroom settings. Reynolds & Reynolds also offers interactive CD-Rom training followed up with live classroom instruction.

This course is a well designed training product for the controller who needs a review of the capabilities and utilization of the Reynolds & Reynolds system along with training on their widely accepted and continuously updated, windows based ERALink access emulator and report writer.

ADP's, provides some products and services needed to operate a dealership, including education and training.

Some limited online training is provided for ADP's computer applications with some other training available on certain Microsoft products such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These services allow training for specific computer applications and can be followed up by classroom instruction in many cases.

Dixon Odom is a public accounting firm dedicated to automotive accounting and consulting. Dixon Odom's differs from the other products of comparison on the market.

Their online training product includes a School of Automotive Accounting tailored specifically to dealership accounting employees.

The difference between this online tool and those offered by the computer vendors is that it is not specific to a certain computer system.

Any accounting employee at any dealership will benefit from such resources. But keep sight of the real objectives. Those are to develop or improve skills, attitudes and behavior that enhances profitability, market share and customer satisfaction.

You'll not get a “sticker price” of less than $50. But it will be cheaper than traditional classroom training.

Don Ray is a Senior Member of the George B. Jones Dealer Services division of Dixon Odom PLLC, a national accounting and consulting group for automobile dealers. He's at 901-684-5643 and