What is believed to be the first online shopping service directly linked to dealer web sites has opened for nationwide business with a substantial investment from longtime Chevrolet dealer Stanley Graff, of Grand Prairie, TX.
On the Internet as metroautomall.com, the Dallas-based web site has compiled a data base of about 29,000 franchised and independent dealers since completing a year-long local pilot and going fully online, says founder and CEO Peter Martin Jr.
A former marketing executive with Ricart, Columbus, OH, Mr. Martin says, "MetroAutoMall is different from lead generators and broker-type direct sellers because we connect directly to dealer icons and refuse to compete with local dealerships."
Dealers pay $100 a month to subscribe to Metroautomall, for which their web sites receive names and e-mail addresses of shoppers already in receipt of vehicle data, pricing and dealership contacts from the Texas web site.
Extent of the Graff investment was not disclosed, but Mr. Graff has joined the metroautomall board and is helping to prepare what Mr. Martin, 35, says will be an initial public stock offering in eight to 10 months.
Mr. Martin says, "As web site-to-web site, we differ from other portals which access phones and faxes only, offer `leads' for sale, do brokering arrangements or compete against member dealers by selling to former customers. The Graff investment attests to our model."
Other MetroAutoMall subscribers in the Dallas area include Friendly Chevrolet, Plano Lincoln Mercury and Eldorado Motors, a Chevrolet/-Plymouth-Jeep/ dealer.