Dealer.com's Checkered Flag site helps generate leads

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For Checkered Flag Motor Car Corp., a family-owned and operated dealership group serving the Hampton Roads, VA, area since 1964, the Internet is the company's most important marketing tool. Its CheckeredFlag.comáWeb site has been online since 1997. Today more than 90 percent of its customers use the site.

Checkered Flag is a leading force in the sale of foreign automotive brands in the area, selling more than 1,000 cars per month at its five dealership sites. An integrated marketing program, particularly focused on the Internet, is a key factor in the company's success.

Alex Snyder, Checkered Flag's e-commerce director, explained that his company's previous system had some serious limitations. Updating the system was difficult, particularly capturing current inventory, and rigid templates limited design and functionality.

In addition, slow response to Checkered Flag service requests became unacceptable.

Checkered Flag's Dealer.com-built Web site came online in mid-September. It went live with the functionality Checkered Flag was seeking, but even more important is the speed and success of the design and build process.

The most critical aspect of the new site is inventory management. Today Checkered Flag customers can log onto the site and custom build a vehicle. The vehicle can be built by any number of specifications the customer requests - brand, price, features, best warranties, monthly payments and more.

The system then scans the selection across Checkered Flag's dealerships and displays every vehicle in Checkered Flag's inventory that matches the search.

Customers can also use the system's CarFinder capabilities. This is an automatic feature that allows customers to plug in any vehicle he or she desires.

If the car is in stock the site will direct the customer to that particular vehicle. If it is not in stock the system runs a "fuzz" factor that suggests other in-stock vehicles that may suit the customer's needs.

The system also sends the lead to the Internet marketing department and automatically notifies the customer when the vehicle is in stock. The same search capabilities apply to pre-owned vehicles as well. Customers can also search for vehicles based on monthly payment amounts.

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