Better Car People Blog

Are you a BCC or a BDC?

A BDC in the automotive industry is not a new or innovative concept. People have been writing about, researching, and developing BDCs for years--and much more so with increased online presence. So why the sudden resurgence in discussions, blogs and forums again?  Maybe because BDCs vary so much in size, style and approach and people are searching for common ground--a place where the BDC will actually develop business.

Because BDCs vary, there is much to read regarding how to appropriately create, staff, and manage a BDC. There is one commonality I have noticed, though. Many BDCs have nothing to do with business development. One of the guys I work with calls them BCCs--Business Communication Centers. The staff answers e-mails with templated responses, may or may not address customer questions, and leaves voicemails to customers. They are communicating--sometimes well and sometimes poorly--but are they developing business?

A Business Develop Center does just that--develops your existing business and causes it to grow. The staff creates bridges to the community and to your potential and current customer. They help bring your dealership from Point A to Point B, all the while developing relationships and inviting customers into your dealership.

This obviously cannot happen overnight. Cultivating a great BDC takes a few key elements to ensure its success.

Here are three key elements to a highly successful BDC--not a BCC.

Hire the right people.

Too many times BDCs are staffed with well intentioned, but ill-equipped employees. Some BDCs have morphed into these space-aged technologically advanced hubs where the staff have the newest computers, excellent scripts,  and innovative processes. Others are staffed with the two schmucks who never sold a car and someone’s second cousin who just graduated high school.They were given a laptop and a desk located in the break room.  

To be a part of the BDC takes a specific skill set and personality. If you think about it, the majority of car sales start through a BDC. It is estimated that 90% of buyers start their search online and send in an inquiry. Once that inquiry is received, it is up to your BDC to respond. You know that you are not the only dealership receiving the lead. It is more likely that at least two additional dealerships have received the same lead as you, so how your BDC responds is of the utmost importance.  The right people will be well trained, able to hold a conversation, have the ability to think on their feet, and know enough about the dealership, product and process to sound authoritative and set appointments.

Train your BDC and INVEST in them.

There are some basic skills that every BDC must have to not only function, but to develop business. Phone skills are obviously the first key ingredient. Phone skills sell. Whether it results in setting an appointment or selling the car at that moment, you must train your BDC how to talk and interact on the phone.

When training phone skills, you can also incorporate the relational sale. I am a firm believer that relationships still highly affect the sell. In this market of click and buy, there are still times when you want a person--a point of contact-- to help you navigate your bigger purchase. In these situations, relationships win. Train your BDC to ask the right questions, to truly listen to the customer, and assist them in their search. If you can transition from begging for the appointment to consulting the customer, you will see a dramatic shift in the culture of your BDC and the number of appointments set.

An additional note--often there is training on what to say to customers, but it must also be noted that we must train our BDC with what NOT to say. In our desire to disclose as much information as possible, we can talk someone out of the sale. Remember--less is more. Answer questions, but don’t give so much information that you paint yourself in the corner. Sometimes silence can sell better than 1,000 words.

Be Innovative.

For everything you do to reach a customer, there are three other dealerships trying the same approach. You want to be innovative and think broadly. When you are in the trenches, you have a different perspective on what works and what does not. Keep an open mind and collaborate as much as possible with your BDC.  If you have hired the right people and have trained them well, listen to their ideas.  The main point is to think outside of the box. What sells cars? Focus on what works and put your effort there. If phone skills are more important than e-mail skills, focus on the phone. There are companies, such as BetterCarPeople, who can help with the initial first response via e-mail. They are trained in how to respond with an original, individualized, not automated response. That will free up your BDC to make calls and build relationships with customers.

BDCs are hugely important to the growth of your dealership. BCCs are not. Make sure that your dealership is developing business and reaching customers where they are.

 

 

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Published on January 28, 2015 by Better Car People.

Three Components of an Effective BDC

In the past few years, BDCs have become THE topic of discussion. How big should it be? What are the defined roles? Why do we even need a BDC? It’s can become just another “thing” we have to implement.

 

BDCs are not going away. They are an invaluable tool for the dealership, and in many cases (depending on the market and how you label an internet lead) they bring in over 75% of the sales.  Your digital presence is incredibly important, and with internet sales and marketing making huge strides, it’s value will continue to increase. 

So--how do you make the most of this group? You cannot just assume that employees with computers will magically turn into a BDC.  If you do, your BDC will fail. We have seen it happen on multiple occasions, and it is a waste of time and money. A BDC is something that needs to be implemented with specific metrics in mind. 

I decided to investigate the most effective BDCs and how they reached that status. The best place to start is to talk with experts in the field and read their work. They did not become successful by chance, but through research, training, and investment in the human commodity--not just the implementation of technology. Matthew Belk, BDC/Internet Response Guru, Educator, and owner of BetterCarPeople, gave me some valuable information in regards to training up effective BDCs. There are three simple, yet highly overlooked components of a BDC. Get these right, and you will supercharge your BDC. Ignore them, and you will miss sales.

 

  1. Train e-mail skills. I know that most have templates that go out to the customer quickly. If you are using these templates, train your BDC to review the template, ensure there are no grammatical errors,  make sure the customer’s name is spelled correctly and not in either all caps or all lowercase, and that if there is a question, the question is addressed. NOT ANSWERED, but addressed. Let them acknowledge the question, and then let the sales team answer it when they make contact. I have avoided dealerships before when they have sent me incorrect information, poorly worded e-mails and texts, or templated responses that have not been adjusted for my request. The internet has made our world pretty small and very competitive. Don’t lose a sale because of a bad first response.

  2. Train phone skills. This is one of the most important aspects of a BDC. A BDC or internet department (or any employee for that matter) with poor phone skills can kill your sales and drive people away from your dealership. Invest in training your BDC concerning how to connect with customers, ask the right questions, and LISTEN. Also, there is a huge difference between effectively calling someone and hounding them. You need to know this and contact them specifically and wisely. Every communication needs to show the customer that you are valuable and that they need to come in and talk with you. There are many ways to train employees on these skills, and specialists like Matthew, who know what is needed, and can help move them from unprepared to amazing.

  3. Make appointments. This is most likely to happen if the first two are in place, and less likely if you are bad at 1 and 2. Train your BDC on how to set appointments without being pushy. Train them to use inviting language that gives your customer choices for appointment times, but also encourages them to set the appointment.  Once appointments are being set and confidence rises, you will see results.

Great BDCs don’t just happen. It takes research, work, and accountability to not only have a functional BDC, but to have a profitable one. If you have time to do the research, there are great blogs and website dedicated to this. If you do not have the time or if you want expert advice, BetterCarPeople is a great place to get help with your online presence, your phone presence, and your ability to get people in the showroom.

 

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Published on January 21, 2015 by Better Car People.

Are you listening to your customer?

socialmedia and automotive sales

Who is your customer? I have had many discussions concerning who the target automotive customer is and how to market to them. Social Media is obviously a relevant topic in this discussion, as it reaches customers where they are and is becoming a regular segment of the advertising budget (and growing with each quarter). But is it effective? Who are the impressions on your Facebook page? Who reads your tweets? And are they truly potential buyers? 

There are some who say Social Media is the wrong avenue when marketing to our customers for a few reasons:

  • No one will buy a car because of a facebook like

  • The demographic of car buyers is older. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Boomers (mostly aged 55-64) are the cohort purchasing cars. (Businessweek)

  • Millennials (Digital Natives) are not purchasing cars at a high enough rate to focus on, and fewer even have a license than ever before. (Time Magazine)

I see these figures and think this is EXACTLY why we need to focus marketing on meeting consumers where they are in their native language. Baby Boomers are using Social Media outlets such as Facebook and Linkedin, even if at a lesser rate, so your message will not be ignored by them. Millennials, though, use Social Media as their search options, their queries, and their market research. Get their attention now, and when they are in a position to purchase a car, they will know who you are.

Social Media is much more than just social. This concept that began just a few short years ago as a means to connect people has turned into a multi-faceted tool. Who knew the advertising giant it would become? You are not going to sell a car off of your facebook page or through a tweet, but you will generate awareness, which drives leads. If leveraged correctly, your internet presence will rise exponentially.

What do we know about Social Media and car buyers?

  • Millions of people have friended a brand or a company on facebook

  • 9/10 Millennials use Social Media when shopping for a car. (NBC News)

  • 13% of millennials view visiting a dealership as their preferred method of shopping, while 25% of older buyers prefer to go to a showroom. (NBC News)

  • 87% of car consumers will use the internet and/or mobile device for research, price comparison, and sales. (Read Article)

Keep marketing on social space, and do it well. This platform is not going away. The vehicle may change (new Social Media sites are developing at an increasingly high rate), but the idea will not. If you meet your customers where they are and give them a welcoming, warm customer experience, they will engage and are more likely to choose your dealership. A great site for hints and tips with Automotive Social Media Selling is Kathi Kruse’s website Kruse Control. I have learned massive amounts from her expertise, and it is a great place to glean best practices.

Remember--as you increase your Social Media presence, you will increase your leads. It is the law of averages. Increased presence will increase lead generation. Make sure that you don’t fumble the ball at this point. Why spend money on advertising and 3rd party leads, only to lose the lead due to a poor response.  Gaining consumer awareness is only the first step. Keeping the customer interested is the next, and that can happen with the initial contact. Selling is relational. There is no avoiding that fact. So when the customer sends in a lead, make sure you handle that like the gold it is. Respond Quickly. Respond Well. Respond Personally.





Aimi Gundersen is an Automotive Lead Specialists, Blogger, Speaker, Educator, and a Project Manager for BetterCarPeople. BetterCarPeople is the industry expert in internet lead response. Aimi has her masters in communications and her doctorate in Higher Education and Adult Learning. Her life is dedicated to making people smarter, stronger, and more efficient in any capacity of work. Contact her at aimi.gundersen@bettercarpeople.com or connect with her on LinkedIn. You can also follow her blog here.

Permalink Digital Dealer, Dealer Magazine, Dealer Training, Internet Training, Lead Response, Overnight BDC for Sales, OvernightBDC, Quality Assurance Staff, Social Media Management Digital Dealer, Digital, Social Media, Lead Responses, Lead Answering Service for Car Dealers, Lead Response, OvernightBDC, BDC

Published on January 12, 2015 by Better Car People.

Tap That Number--And Do It Fast with BetterCarPeople

tapthatnumber.png

What did your morning look like today? I am willing to bet that if you are an Internet or BDC Manager, you spent at least an hour answering and assigning internet leads from last night.

You know these leads are important and that timing is everything. If you catch someone at the height of their interest, the opportunity to sell is greater. That is why there are so many studies on the life cycle of an internet lead and the speed in which they should be responded to. Whether they are 3rd party, OEM, or website leads, they all have the opportunity to convert into sales if handled correctly.

We know you have to respond to those leads and answer them well, but do you know why? I constantly see these magical numbers stating how fast you MUST respond, but have you ever read the research behind them? I am a quantifiable gal and I need to see how people create these statistics.

Here is a short list of articles which describe WHY you need to respond to your internet leads quickly:

  • If you contact a potential customer within an hour of receiving the lead, you are 7 times more likely to have a conversation with a customer than a lead which sat for an hour or more, and 60 times more likely than the lead that sat for 24 hours (Harvard Business Review)
  • The odds of contacting a customer via phone decreases over 10 times after the first hour.
  • After 20 hours, you will actually HURT your ability to make contact and qualify a lead. (Lead Response Management Study)
  • Autoresponders actually hurt your chances of contacting a lead as well (Automotive News)

These are just a few of the articles I have read on how valuable internet leads are and how we are losing money daily by ignoring or incorrectly handling them.  There has been much research done, and they are all pretty consistent regardless of when published or who published them.

Speed in response matters. Quality does as well. Fast and poorly done will not bring anyone running into your dealership.

Let BetterCarPeople help.

We have a new, innovative feature for our Overnight BDC (our 24/7/365, original, custom built response) called Tap That Number. We can help you not only reach your customer quickly, but do it in a consistent, professional, engaging manner that will make your sales and internet team look and perform like rockstars!

  • We provide an initial e-mail response within 10 minutes. This response is created by live people who address questions within the lead, include Evox images of the desired car, value propositions, and next-step directions.

  • Our response is mobile friendly. You can respond to the customer when you are on the sales lot or in the dealership. All from your phone.

  • Most importantly, we send you a copy of the response with the contact information for the lead. The customer's number is listed on top, and all you need to do is Tap That Number and call the customer. And the sooner you can call the customer, the higher your conversion rate.

  • We can respond as a single representative or as a specific salesperson--the choice is completely yours. 

 

Regardless of when a lead comes in, we will respond to it with an amazing, personal, original e-mail that the customer will receive within 10 minutes. Then, we will provide you and your sales/BDC team with the same response and the phone number instantly so you know exactly what was going on.

All you need to do is Tap That Number and work your magic.



Aimi Gundersen is an Automotive Lead Specialists, Blogger, Speaker, Educator, and a Project Manager for BetterCarPeople. Aimi has her masters in communications and her doctorate in Higher Education and Adult Learning. Her life is dedicated to making people smarter, stronger, and more efficient in any capacity of work.

 

Permalink Digital Dealer, Digital, BDC, OvernightBDC, internet, Internet leads

Published on January 07, 2015 by Better Car People.

New Year--New Monday

I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Mostly because I constantly break them. I put thought into them, make an effort to better myself through them, and then consistently break them.

I mean, really--who tries to give up coffee? Failure was inevitable.

There is one thing I DO find useful in this seemingly pointless activity, though. The thinking. The analyzing of the past year to evaluate what was effective and what needs to be changed.

I talk with many people whose sole job is to make sure all leads are responded to. Whether they are responsible for responding to the leads in a timely manner, or providing an excellent response, many of them say the same thing when talking about one thing they would like to change.

Monday Mornings.

Monday Mornings. I don’t  know many people who love Mondays. The phrase alone is enough to make you turn around and climb back under the covers. You know that you have a ton of work to do to catch up on the weekend leads--you need to organize and distribute, answer the leads, follow up with calls, and log everything into your CRM. All while answering the new leads coming in all day long. One BDC Manager from Delaware told me it takes her about 2 hours every Monday morning to sort and answer all of the incoming leads from the weekend. That is in addition to answering them on Friday night and Saturdays during the day. And that is just the normal work week.

Add in a few holidays like Christmas and New Years, and your schedule can become completely crazy.

So, for 2015, let’s vow to make Mondays more bearable.  Here are a few tips to help you to walk in Monday morning like a boss.

  • Answer the leads as they come in. Yes--as they come in. I know it seems impossible, but it can be done. And it can be done without taking away your personal life, weekends, or family time. There are great products which can help you with this (BetterCarPeople has an unparalleled Overnight BDC service at a ridiculously low price) and allow you to walk in on Monday with all of your leads responded to with an initial custom built, engaging, professional e-mail.
  • Turn off your autoresponder. I have talked about this at length previously. No matter how amazing a template from an autoresponder, they can do nothing more than tell your customer information they can get online and that you are away from your desk. They can not read the lead, respond to questions, and engage your customer in conversation. Autoresponders can actually hurt your chances of getting a customer on-lot. Turn it off.

  • Have a plan for your new found Monday morning time. With your leads answered, you will be able to walk in Monday morning, make sure the leads are distributed, and begin calling your customers. An e-mail alone will not sell a car--a person on the phone can sell the car. Get off the computer and get on the phone.

Take a moment before the New Year to analyze 2014. What needs to be modified to help you continue on your path to increased success?  I am definitely ready to make some changes for 2015. How we see these changes through will be what defines our future in the industry.

 

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Published on December 29, 2014 by Better Car People.

It is almost 2015! Now What?

So--it is almost 2015. Another year past and a new future approaching. As I follow the news in the automotive industry, it reminds me much of Y2K. I remember waiting for the clock to turn to 12:00 am on January 1, 2000 and worrying that all of the electricity would go out, that banking as we knew it would end, and it would be slightly reminiscent of one of those dystopian novels where civilization had to re-organize and reinvent itself.

Of course, none of that happened in 2000. Y2K did not destroy life as we knew it and my New Year’s party continued on while Dick Clark spoke through our television.

In the same fashion, there are major changes on the horizon with how we sell cars, but everything previously known will not disappear. There are some trends that need to be watched, though. It is only the foolish who pretend change is not happening. However, the change does not mean erasing past practices. It just means that you need to meld the two together.

The Trends

Companies such as Beepi, Carvana, and Sonic have reduced the face to face interactions with customers to a bare minimum. Beepi (a very interesting concept) entirely removes the dealership from any purchasing transaction while still providing thorough inspections and customer satisfaction promises--but no test drives. They do have a 14 day return policy, though. Carvana offers the same 100% online experience with delivery to the door, but does have a 7 day test drive. Both remove the dealership and sales people from the equation and focus solely on the power of the purchase.

Sonic (and others soon to join this digital experiment) still have a brick and mortar dealership where the customer will land to finish paperwork and receive their new vehicle, but still the majority of the purchase is done digitally.

These experiences are consumer driven. There are people who will guide and help you through the process, but they are not selling--they are facilitators. The customer drives the interaction, the research, and the purchase. They are essentially driving the sale.

Is this good?

This is a very subjective question--but one that must be discussed. This CAN be good, if leveraged in the right fashion. Consumers drive the industry. Experiments and inventions come from the necessity and desire of the buyer. Obviously buyers want a more independent online experience with less interaction. Old school would say that this will never work--that people buy from people. I agree with this statement to a point. Relationships do sell--but so does the internet. Successful dealerships will be able to utilize old school practices while integrating an online approach. You must make sure that you are competitive when searched online. If you can marry the ideas of selling online and and a strong customer service presence, you will not only be able to manage this new area of the car dealership, but thrive as well.

What to do?

There are some initial things you can do to help you transition from completely on-lot selling to a hybrid of online and on-lot.  You should never forget all the methods that have made you successful in the past--but you SHOULD follow industry trends and introduce some new techniques.

  • Leads are important. Make the most of every internet lead that comes into your CRM. I don’t care what time it is, you need to make sure you respond with a welcoming, original, informative response to your potential customer. The average customer does their research online and only visits an average of 1.6 dealerships before purchase (McKinley Report). You need to make your first impression as engaging and responsive as possible, or your customer will just click in the next dealership listed.
  • Be relevant. Keep your responses as up-to-date and timely as possible. Do not use an auto-responder to try and connect with your potential customer. Answer their inquiry with a relevant, informative e-mail. And then call them as soon as you can or as soon as it is an appropriate time.

  • Customers Matter. Very few customers are going to just walk onto your lot or into your showroom without having researched make, model and pricing. They are in your dealership because they know what they want. It is now up to you to keep the sale. Treat them as respected customers--odds are they know more about that specific vehicle than anyone else in the room

I had a professor in college who used to always say “Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." I always thought that was an odd statement, but it is true. New ideas should never erase old practices. They should enhance and re-energize. Here is to the re-energization of 2015 and the melding of the old and the new.

 

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Published on December 22, 2014 by Better Car People.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

image from huffingtonpost.com

image from huffingtonpost.com

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….”

That song, while beautiful, always seems slightly ironic to me. It is a wonderful time of year--the decorations, the wonderfully bad for you food, the parties…..it is enough to keep you constantly busy.

Internet leads don’t realize you are at a holiday party or shopping for presents. They don’t care. (they are inanimate, so that could be part of it…..) All the lead knows is that it needs to be answered. As a dedicated Internet Manager, Director of E-Commerce, or BDC Manager, you know those leads need to be answered in less than 10 minutes. And not with an autoresponder.

How is that possible during the holiday season?

Overnight BDC.

BetterCarPeople created Overnight BDC for people like you. People who know the value of leads--especially the ones which come in after hours or on weekends. Overnight BDC will answer your leads 24/7/365 or whenever you want to switch us on. But we don’t only answer the lead--we answer it with live people. We create a customized, professional, engaging response to every individual inquiry. Each response will be answered as you, for you with images, value propositions, engaging questions, welcome videos featuring the individual salespeople, and very specific call to action directions for your potential customer. Overnight BDC also gives you the tools to customize anything within the response. You can add pricing statements, your own personal value propositions--the sky's the limit.

And we do this all in under 10 minutes.  

Busyness is inherent in this season. We do want to slow down and enjoy the moments, but there just aren’t enough hours in a day. So when you add working in a industry with a selling cycle that never turns off, it only adds to the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Imagine a date night, a party, a Christmas Eve, a New Year’s Eve, or any night without having to worry about an initial response.  A night without your phone buzzing or having to log into your CRM. Imagine a Monday morning with all of your leads answered and organized. All you would need to do is call the customer.

Would you sell more cars?

Would you have more time?

It is not too late to enjoy the season. Contact us to see how we can not only change your end of the year, but your 2015 as well! Until then, hum your favorite carol while you finish sending those emails!

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Published on December 17, 2014 by Better Car People.