NORTHFIELD, Ill. — Many smaller dealerships won't be expanding any time soon, according to recent research.

A Small Business Research Board study in the third quarter of 2007 found that only 24 percent of respondents indicated they would expand their dealerships in the next 12 to 24 months.

That represented a 5 percent drop from the second quarter, when 29 percent said they were planning expansion.

Of the respondents planning to expand, 24 percent said they would add new locations and 19 percent indicated they would improve customer-service programs.

Sixteen percent said they would expand their current location, another 16 percent planned to add more services and 14 percent indicated they would provide more products. Five percent chose "other" reasons for expansion, and 5 percent noted they would expand through acquisition.

According to the report, the two improvements most companies were more likely to implement before anything else were adding staff and enhancing employee training.

Improving existing technology or automation or adding new technology were third and fourth on the list of priorities, respectively.

Upgrading employee incentive programs was fifth, the study pointed out.

According to the officials, more than 800 small businesses throughout the country participated in the survey, which was co-sponsored by the International Profit Associates.

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