Nuts and bolts web site works for California dealership Bob Corsons of Frontierhas never really bought into the hype of selling cars online.
The fleet sales manager says the Valencia, CA dealership created its web site a little less than two years ago to give customers better access to information.
"Of course we want our web site to create more sales, but people are not going to purchase vehicles online," he says.
Even with Frontier's goal of providing better access to information, the web site doesn't provide specific new-vehicle information. Mr. Corson says the dealership's inventory is too large and vast to provide that kind of information online.
Right on the home page, however, a place is provided for potential customers to e-mail the dealership requesting information on vehicles for which they are searching. Customers only need to provide an e-mail address, and not a phone number, when requesting information. Mr. Corson will respond within the day to any e-mail request. If the customer provides a phone number, he will first respond by e-mail, then follow up with a phone call.
Customers can find specific used-vehicle information, including pricing on the site. Pictures of the vehicles are not available yet, though. A unique feature is that prospective customers can ask for future e-mail updates of used-vehicles when they become part of Frontier's inventory.
Like most other dealership web sites, Frontier's allows customers to set service appointments online. The complete Toyota parts catalog is also there, along with coupons that can be downloaded.
Mr. Corson says the dealership gets about 60 Internet leads monthly. All come from direct access to Frontier's web site or from Toyota Motor Company's web site.
He says, "We do not use any of the third-party referral companies. They have a great concept, but some of them have too much incorrect information about vehicles and prices. That can frustrate potential customers, and I'd rather not be part of that."
From those 60 leads a month, Frontier Toyota averages between 6 to 10 new-vehicle sales each month.
Used-car sales from Internet leads average only two or three a month. Shawn Gilmarten, the used car sales manager, admits the numbers are below expectations.
"We've kicked around some ideas to increase that number," he says.
One idea considered is placing pictures on the web site of all the used-vehicle inventory, "but that will take some work on our part," he says.
Both Mr. Gilmarten and Mr. Corson say they need to do a better job of updating used-vehicle information.
Mr. Corson doesn't foresee making many tweaks and changes to the web site.
"Right now, our site is completely functional for us," he says. "It's giving us what we need. It invites customers to visit Frontier Toyota."