Autobytel: Internet Helps Auto Dealers

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Car dealers credit the Internet with improvements across every dealership department -- from sales and customer retention, to finance and insurance and parts and service, to marketing and operations -- according to a survey released yesterday by Autobytel Inc., Irvine, CA, an Internet automotive marketing services company.


Autobytel surveyed its dealers last month to learn how the Internet has affected their dealerships and to what degree. Dealers agreed that the Internet/online technologies have:


· Lowered marketing/sales costs (66 percent).


· Improved customer relations (84 percent).


· Made it easier to manage customer information (92 percent).


· Helped them retain more sales customers (78 percent).


· Helped them retain more service customers (53 percent).


· Increased the number of financing customers (65 percent).


· Helped them provide marketing/sales information more easily and quickly (96 percent).


Also, 80 percent "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that the Internet has helped them sell more new vehicles, while 77 percent strongly agreed/ agreed that it helped sell more used vehicles.


The Internet's most positive impact, according to dealers, may be in CRM. Sixty-two percent strongly agreed/agreed that they've successfully used the Internet to retain more customers who previously purchased a new or used vehicle from their dealership. Eighty-eight percent strongly agreed/agreed that the Internet has improved customer relationship management overall at their dealership.


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