How many sales does your staff lose because of inaction or worse? It might be more than you'd care to know.

Shirley Knapp, Ward's office manager, just purchased a certified-used Ford Escape from Imlay City Ford Lincoln Mercury in Michigan.

She began her search on AutoTrader.com and Cars.com. She initially contacted another store because the website said, “Ask about our Internet price.” A sales representative got back with her soon. But it soon went downhill, she says.

“When I asked about the Internet price, he said, ‘You got it off the Internet, that is the Internet price.’ When I tried to negotiate he said, ‘There are additional fees, including a cleaning fee. And the price of the vehicle is going up tomorrow.’”

She ended up emailing two other dealerships — the one in Imlay City, which is an hour from her house, and the other (which I'll call Dealership B to protect the guilty), a few minutes from her home.

Imlay City Ford included several pictures of the Escape on its AutoTrader.com listing and did a nice job marketing the vehicle online. Dealership B failed to post any pictures of its Escape. But Knapp liked the price and the mileage, both of which were better than Imlay City Ford's Escape.

She sent an email to both dealerships asking for payment information and letting them know she had excellent credit. Tina Williams, Imlay City's Internet manager, called her within 15 minutes and provided Knapp with all of the information she requested.

Dealership B? Well, she heard from them several days later. The Internet manager did apologize while blaming a busy showroom.

Sometimes, this isn't rocket science. If you do your job, the results will take care of themselves. Here was a great opportunity wasted. It's not only the sale the dealership lost, but possible service revenue. Of course, Imlay won't get the service because of the distance. But Dealership B lost out on a potentially great customer by not responding to an Internet lead.

Another mark against Dealership B — the Internet manager has a Yahoo e-mail address listed on the store's website. It's both unprofessional and may indicate he's getting ready to make a move and wants an easy to way to take his customer information with him.

Meanwhile, kudos to Tina Williams and the team at Imlay City Ford Lincoln Mercury. You guys have your act together.