Phil Fagen, Arrow Chevrolet's general manager, does not envision purchasing vehicles online as a standard practice in the future. Instead, he expects the future of vehicle shopping will be much the same as it is today - prospective buyers using the Internet to search for information about the vehicle they wish to purchase, then heading for the dealership to do business.

Mr. Fagan believes that advertising is "one of the key purposes" of Arrow's web site. The objective in developing the web site was to create a "billboard" providing increased visibility for Arrow's name.

It's important to provide web site information that makes customers want to come into the dealership. "Getting people to come in for an appointment is the trickiest part," says Mr. Fagan.

The two-year-old web site averages 30 leads a month. Approximately 75% (22-23) of these leads are translated into sales. Mr. Fagan expects both numbers to increase in the future, as more people get online.

Arrow's web site has plenty of information and is simple to navigate. With two clicks of the mouse, the prospective buyer can either browse the entire used-vehicle inventory or enter a search for a particular type of vehicle. Provided is detailed information, including a clear picture and the price of each used vehicle in the inventory.

The Chicago area dealership does not include new vehicle pricing information on the web site because so many factors determine the end price of new vehicles, says Mr. Fagen. However, the available APR financing and rebates for each line is listed, along with the number of available units in each line.

"Keeping this information current is extremely critical," says Mr. Fagan. Usually the changes are sent to APPS Communications, the company who developed the web site. But time-critical changes are entered at the dealership.

The web site also provides financing information on each commercial and specialty vehicle line.

Each vehicle category (new, used and commercial) provides a place where interested parties can request that a salesperson contact them with information about specific vehicles.

Arrow has two employees who each spend about 25 hours weekly responding to customer inquiries online. The response time is usually less than a day. To speed up the process of purchasing a vehicle, the customer can fill out and submit a credit application online.

Other web site features include information on the parts specials that Arrow Chevrolet offers each month. Also, job seekers can search for employment opportunities with the dealership.

The web site's graphics are simple, yet attractive and are highlighted by an animated Indian in the left-hand corner. The phone number, address and business hours are prominently displayed. A very readable map is provided. Prospective customers will likely find the web site to be informative and easy to navigate - two important ingredients for a successful web site.