GAINESVILLE, GA – Nearly three-quarters of all franchise car dealers plan to increase spending on their Web sites over the next 12 months, investing heavily in tools that will give them more control of the entire online transaction, including finance, trade-appraisal, service scheduling, and price negotiation tools, according to a research project sponsored by Black Book.

Dealers also rated leads from their own Web sites as having the highest quality compared to other sources, such as manufacturers or third parties. Forty percent of dealers perceive their own Web site to generate the highest quality sales leads, compared with 30 percent from manufacturers’ sites and 23 percent from third-party lead providers.

“The number of high quality leads from their own sites combined with significant investment in new tools will make 2008 a watershed year for dealer Web sites,” said Black Book Representative Mike McFall. “Dealers will continue to invest in their own brands and will continue to refine their online business practices, making their Web sites a more important part of dealership operations than ever before.”

Additionally, 59 percent of dealers plan to invest in search engine optimization to drive more visitors to their Web sites, and 58 percent plan increases in direct e-mail promotions of online inventory to prospective customers in the coming year.