Dealer Bert Boeckmann has been in the business for 50 years, but he's got his eye on the future — especially when it comes to the Internet.

“If a dealer doesn't focus on that, he or she is making a tragic mistake,” Boeckmann, owner and CEO of Galpin Motors Inc. in North Hills, CA, says at a J.D. Power and Associates' conference on auto retailing.

He notes the Internet not only shows what auto dealers stock, but also what they don't. “If you're not on top of your Web site, it can bite you,” he says.

John Bergstrom, Chairman and CEO of the 21-dealership Bergstrom Corp. in Wisconsin, says, “Every month we communicate more with people on the Web and less through traditional means.”

That figures, says Roger Burdick, President of Burdick Automotive, a 20-franchise dealership group in central New York.

“Logically it seems it would have to grow with the number of users increasing and kids coming up as Internet-savvy,” he says.