Can customers find your dealership while navigating the Information Superhighway or ``Infobahn'' as some computer enthusiasts refer to it? A small but growing number of tire manufacturers and dealers are establishing ``home pages'' on the Internet in order to attract today's customers and to establish their presence in what is widely predicted to become the electronic ``Yellow Pages'' of tomorrow.
Whether most of us are ready for it or not, an exciting new marketplace is evolving for the benefit of buyers and sellers alike-an electronic ``shopping mall'' that already is estimated to hold more than 18 million consumers in North America.
Independent tire dealers will want-and possibly need-to be part of this new marketplace. And the sooner they examine the potential afforded by the Internet, the sooner they can determine the opportunities it presents to their businesses. Dealers, for example, could band together to create a home page directing consumers to their respective locations.
Most major tire manufacturers, the American Retreaders Association, at least one state tire dealer group and a handful of individual tire dealerships-both large and small-already are taking advantage of this opportunity. And some are finding it's paying off.
The owner of one large retail dealership, in fact, was so anxious to keep competitors in the dark, he refused to tell us about his company's activities on the Net.
Yet the manager of a Firestone company outlet in Ohio farm country told us he's ``personalizing'' his store's home page with information and photos of himself and his family.
Tire makers, meanwhile, are using discount coupons in their home pages to boost store traffic and sales.
Perhaps it's still too soon to determine how effective advertising and marketing on the Internet will prove for dealers and tire makers as a whole. But with the number of Internet users currently doubling every two months, it's an avenue dealers can hardly ignore.
The ``Information Age'' is here and its opportunities appear boundless. Dealers should look into it.