The world's No.1 Lexus dealership faces a quandary as its Internet-assisted vehicle sales keep growing.
“We welcome the Internet's growth from 12% of the business to 30% in 2010,” says Robert Glasser, Internet director at JM Lexus in Margate, FL. “But we are coping with whether we are a dealership with an Internet department or an Internet business (that sells cars).”
Many other dealerships face the same question. Should a separate unit handle Internet leads or should the entire staff know how to do so? As Internet leads increase, several stores are opting for the latter.
Internet sales have become so robust for JM Lexus that the dealership now has an Internet staff of 21 employees. They recently relocated to larger quarters in a former Dodge dealership here in southeast Florida.
JM Lexus ranks No.22 on the Ward's e-Dealer 100 with 2,223 total Internet sales. That is up from 1,696 the year before. Overall, the store sold 6,877 new and used vehicles in 2010.
“Our Internet business is very important for us,” says Jim Dunn, the dealership's general manager, noting many Internet users give the store high marks on sites that rate dealers.
“Floridians watch this rating service very closely, especially those using the Internet to check out vehicle quality, owner loyalty and prices,” he says.
The store is an architectural gem and includes two golf putting greens, a Starbucks coffees outlet and an automotive library. The dealership is considered a destination spot for Florida's droves of sunbirds and auto fans.
Thanks in part to the reach of the Internet, the dealership's owner base extends as far north as New England.
Glasser gives new Internet sales people three weeks of training. The working of online leads is “altogether different from handling walk-in prospects,” he says.