By Stan Sher
Don’t you just get tired of those three very costly letters known as “BDC”? I bet some of you are cringing right now as you read this. I have exciting news for you. It is not so bad once you understand what I am about to discuss. This is a profit center that is often mismanaged but required in order to sell and service more customers. For over ten years now I have often referred to the business development center as the new billboard.
The reason why companies like mine exist is because auto dealers often fail to understand how to make this department work. There are so many scientific aspects to truly understand business center operations. Many think that it is all about pounding 100 calls per day, sending emails and “just getting them in”. The industry slowly continues to grow as technology is supposed to make it easier to operate our dealerships. For people like me it is a passionate topic and it is a business that I love to be in. I love to drive massive sales and service traffic to dealerships. I also love it when I can hold dealer management accountable for their results.
To me the BDC department has many moving parts and I consider it to be a science. Here are the scientific parts to the success of this department:
Advertising: How much advertising are we doing? Are we training the department to understand where and how the calls and leads are coming from? Are we looking at how many opportunities each source brings?
CRM: Are we logging every customer? Do we merge duplicate opportunities? Do we have an effective process for internet leads, phone calls; email marketing campaigns, data mining, unsold follow up and texts? Do we remove outdated campaigns from the five previous BDC Managers in the system to make sure our customer base does not get spammed?
Technology: How are we using chat programs? How are we doing digital retailing? How are we navigating through platforms given to us by our vendors? Do we know how to properly read a VDP? Can we use our technology tools to help us communicate to customers better?
Training: Are we training our people how to use those tools I mentioned? Are we training our people on how to communicate effectively?
Recruiting: Are we hiring people for the core skills that the job demands? Are we screening and interviewing properly? Are we setting proper expectations?
Management/Accountability: How much training, coaching and mentorship are we giving our people? What metrics do we analyze and manage? How thorough are we on managing missed opportunities? Are we communicating as a team to make sure that the job gets done every single day?
Retention: Do we continue to re-engage past and current customers to properly retain their business in sales and service? Do we retain employees that continue an ongoing relationship with the customer?
The list can continue to go on and a whole book can be written about the road map to success in the BDC. As a Dealer Principal or General Manager we have so many departments to manage that it is easy to get frustrated when drilling down on each and every department. It makes it harder to sell more when there is too much involved in managing. The goal should be to manage less and sell more. This only happens when the science of the BDC is properly followed. The numbers do not lie. Massive follow up action with a strategic approach will bring maximum results to driving traffic for both variable and fixed operations department.
About the Author
Stan Sher has over 18 years experience in retail and dealership sales training. He currently serves as the director of operations for Dealer Retention Services, the premier BDC services firm in the auto industry.