Video advertising for the sales departments is the norm. Pull up any dealership web site and it usually contains some type of video for the sale of new or used cars. Few have any fixed-operations videos.

The usual excuse is that it's too expensive. Not anymore. The video-sharing web sites have created a new market for technology that allows people to shoot and post videos seconds.

This technology coupled with the social networks has created a new opportunity for your fixed operations to utilize this effective method of communications.

Let's discuss the technology first. Several electronics makers have small video cameras capable of shooting good quality video.

My personal choice is a flip cam. These cameras are available in a high definition version and shot good video. They are inexpensive and have software that allows you to create movies. You can edit and add clips from other files. Go to our web site (www.m5ms.com) and view our video for a sample.

Video clips added to your dealership web site will add credibility to your fixed operations. Here a few applications:

Video Biographies: One of your greatest assets is your people. Have your advisory staffers do an introduction with a short background summary, including their believe in providing best-in-class service. The technical staff could kick it over the top, with a bio and a description of how they ensure the repair/ maintenance is completed correctly the first time.

Video Introduction to Your Fixed Operations: New-owner clinic have been around for years. The greatest asset of these event have always been the opportunity for the dealership to introduction the customer to their service departments and most importantly to establish what to expect.

The biggest challenge has been attendance. Could you produce a shot video that accomplishes the same? Picture this: the service manager walking the customer though the service process, sells the value of the dealership service department, sells the value of your parts inventory and positions your operation in the customer's mind as their vendor of choice.

Maintenance Services: The consumer has seen several challenges to their “old” concept of vehicle maintenance. Why not produce a short video focused on taking the confusion out of this issue?

Quick Service Operation: What a great topic for a video. Develop an explanatory one that shows the customer your operations and why you should be their vendor of choice.

Body Shop: What are the fears the customer has about body work? Select the top three and develop videos that explain why you are different. Before-and-after photos are a strong marketing tool.

What's even better is a video of before, during and after. This alone could challenge the customers fear and give a sense of reassurance that your operation produces top-quality workmanship.

An area we have not even discussed is the video sharing web sites; YouTube, Yahoo, Google to name a few. These sites let you upload video to share with the general public.

These sites are a great way to store your video and share the addresses with your customers. Some dealership will post the video on the share site and embed a link into their web site for viewing.

Another Internet marketing tool is the social networks, such as Facebook or MySpace. These are free and allow you to promote your dealership. Most have the ability to store and share your videos.

Credibility increase when it's someone the customer will see when they come to your dealership.

I have earned another opportunity to provide a workshop this year at the National Automobile Dealers Assn.'s Feb. 13-15 convention in Orlando, FL.

My presentation is “Internet Marketing for Fixed Operations.” If you're at the convention, please stop by. I would enjoy meeting you.

Lee Harkins is president and CEO of M5Management Services Inc. You can contact him at 205-747-8305 and leeharkins@m5ms.com.

Questions or comments about this column? Send us an e-mail at Dealers@wardsauto.com.