Tire dealers hoping to perhaps cash in on some of the auto service appointments pouring in to the www.autos.msn.com Web site are out of luck-at least for the time being.
ADP Dealer Services Group in Portland, the dealer management systems firm that set up the online service and repair appointment component, is offering it to car dealers only.
ADP's Iain Smith told Tire Business: ``This particular service is only targeted at car dealers because, at ADP, we get the vast majority of our business within dealer services from car dealers. And one of the reasons they sign up is it's a way to compete against the aftermarket.
``So we might be very remiss if we were to offer this to tire dealers, who might compete with car dealers. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we couldn't explore some opportunities outside of this particular (venue). The technology can be applied in many places...But the way it is today, we just support car dealers.''
Mr. Smith said that, following an article about the online service published in Automotive News, a sister publication of Tire Business, it was ``staggering, just staggering the number of inquiries we received.... There seems to be a huge pent-up demand on the part of car dealers for this. We've been quite amazed at the level of sign-ups from those dealers.
``We've really hit the mark because it's interesting that a lot of car dealers have put online (appointment) scheduling on their own Web sites, but they're fishing in a small pond.''
He explained that potential service customers may not necessarily visit a specific dealer's site. ``Are you likely to go to www.hondadealer.com? Or to Yahoo.com or MSN.com? People hang out on the (Web) portals, and if they can do a couple of clicks and book an appointment with a car dealer, that's great. So we've really learned how powerful that is.
``And I imagine we'd get some similar interest from the tire dealer community.''
Based on the large number of inquiries ADP has received from the car dealer market segment, Mr. Smith said, ``it might be worthwhile having a talk'' with tire dealers.
The company has ``started to really hit our stride in terms of sign-ups,'' he said. The program (at www.dealersuite.com) now has more than 700 car dealers enrolled and, ``on a good day we probably get 10 contracts sent in. Just last week alone we did close to 50.''
ADP just signed a very large car dealer group, Mr. Smith added, ``and we'll probably have around 750 dealers when the dust settles on the final numbers from last week. That's pretty encouraging.''