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.
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.