Special Report

Ward’s
e-Dealer 100

COLUMBUS, OH – With a “blended” system wherein all leads are shared by the sales force, including those on the Internet, the eight Germain Auto Group dealerships in the Ohio capital achieved a lofty 38% closing rate last year.

The group is shooting for a record-breaking 50% in 2010.

Converting leads into sales “has become a science here,” says Germain Internet director, Shaun Kniffin.

“We boosted our lead run-rate to an average of 28,000 a month in 2009 from 20,000 in 2008, and that raised our Internet-based sales to 4,516 new and used units from 3,349 the previous year.”

This year started on an upnote, despite the Toyota Motor Corp. safety-recall troubles, he says. Internet traffic is up 42%, and phone calls are ahead 52% from year-ago.

“Our owners, brothers Steve and Rick Germain, have given the Internet side of the business growing support with one-third of the overall marketing budget allocated for Web-related activity,” Kniffin says.

“Cadillac, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus brands maintain nearly 100% customer Internet contacts with the dealerships,” he says.

The Germains own two Toyota dealerships in Naples and Sarasota, FL.