Great Service BDCs: Lessons from Talladega Nights

If you ain’t first, you’re last.

~Ricky Bobby

I am not a wealth of knowledge when it comes to NASCAR. I love watching it, but could not tell you why drivers do what they do.

Now, ask me about Talladega Nights, and I go on about the symbolism of the cars and colors, the metaphors ensconced in Ricky and Cal’s odd, but endearing friendship, and the religious aspects of their obsession with the newborn baby Jesus.

However, the one lesson that always hit home was “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” You either come out on top, or you are on the bottom. You either win, or you lose.

In life, I am not sure I completely agree with this, but in regards to relating with our customers, I would have to support it 100%. If you are not the most helpful, the most friendly, and the most invested in your dealership, your customer will find the one who is.

Ricky: “You can’t have two number ones”

Cal: “Yeah...cause that would be 11.”

If you ain’t first, you’re last.

Business Development Centers are the front line for this customer service. And now there is the push, or possibly a need, for dealerships to have Service BDCs. Owners, manufacturer’s and managers recognized that they could be missing out on service opportunities because of missed calls, un-returned emails, and missed appointments. There must be staff dedicated to interacting with, communicating with,  and reaching out to customers. Not everyone wants to do this--nor does everyone have the skill to positively relate to customers. However, it is a necessary and important role in the dealership. Service BDCs, if implemented well,  can be a wonderful development and retention tool which will drive CSI and retention.

3 Key Elements for Implementing a Productive and Functional Service BDC:

Begin with the End in Mind--

We called this back mapping when I was in the education industry. In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby’s dad called it driving with a cougar. He knew the end goal (getting Ricky over his fear) and took action towards the goal. You decide where you want to end up, then plan backwards to determine the actions that must be taken to be successful. You must know what your end goal is with your BDC before you begin implementation. What is the expected outcome of your BDC? Brainstorm with your team, read about service BDCs, join forums, make connections with people who are successfully running BDCs --do the necessary research to create an informed outline for your startup. Below is a list of major elements that need to be in the forefront when creating the Service BDC.

  • Staff--Who will make up the Service BDC? The first position to assign is the manager of the new team. Depending on the size of your dealership, this could be a newly hired Service BDC manager, the manager of the Sales BDC, or the Service Director or Manager. Once decided, you must next choose the team. The goal of the service BDC is to free up the writers, managers, etc to do their job and not have their time taken by answering service leads, setting appointments, and responding to customer emails. It makes no sense to take an already overworked employee and assign them as part of the BDC. You may need to choose someone who can be dedicated to answering phones, e-mailing customers, interfacing with customers--essentially the face of the Service Department. If you know it is not possible to have one person dedicated to that job, make sure the person chosen will be able to reach customers and return calls/emails within 10 minutes of receiving the call/email. 0% of calls to dealership service departments either go unanswered or go to the wrong person. Choose people who are customer orientated and quick learners.
  • Increase CSI/Customer Retention-- The need for customer satisfaction is at an all time high. And depending on your manufacturer, it can lead to additional funding (SFE money). A happy customer is a repeat customer. Your BDC must be in the business of customer service, which means they are also increasing retention. How will your BDC team increase CSI and Retention?
  • Increase R/O--The ability to increase revenue through additional services is another function of the Service BDC.  They must have adequate product knowledge to be able to offer additional services in an informative and educated way.
  • Evaluate your progress-- If you begin with the end in mind, you will also need to know the basic metrics you will use to evaluate the growth/ success of the BDC (both individually and as a whole). Metrics are personalized based on the requirements of the dealership--there are very few situations where one size fits all. Plan with leadership, ask questions of people who have already been successful, and move forward.

Check back next week for part two of  “BDC Lessons from Talladega Nights," which will focus on the additional two elements and how to implement these ideas.  I will also include great places to gather quality information and training!.


A Service BDC cannot just be thrown together and expect success. As with many things in life, vision + plan = successful implementation. Know where you want your Service BDC to go, know the basic metrics you will use to evaluate the success, and start setting more appointments.