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To BDC or Not to BDC

October 29, 2010

I’ve been involved with departments framed around the business development center name since 1999. Funny thing is, we’re closing in on 2011 and some of the same questions that came up back then still persist today: “Do I need a BDC?” “What should a BDC do?” and “How should people in the BDC be paid?” My favorite is: “What’s the difference between a BDC and an Internet department?”

I always smile when I hear someone at a dealership tell me, “We don’t have a BDC, we have a CDC.” For those who haven’t heard of that acronym before, it stands for customer development center. Another variation is customer retention center or CRC. The truth is, the goals are the same regardless of the label you attach to that department. 

Now, there are experts out there preaching the certain demise of the BDC. They are telling dealers they need to become an Internet dealership. The belief is that, through the dealership’s CRM solution, every salesperson can be their customers’ Captain America. It sounds good in theory, but adopting that belief is more abstract than practical for a majority of today’s dealerships.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about the small percentage of stores that have successfully gone the route of the Internet dealership. But why did we create a BDC or Internet department in the first place? Did it have to do with the theory that salespeople aren’t good at following up with customers, as their main focus is on the bird in the hand (i.e., in-store customer)? Did we do it because we wanted to maximize all revenue streams and just allow salespeople to do, at least theoretically, what they do best? It’s probably a bit of all of the above. 

I’m always amazed at how industry pundits prophesize about the future of the dealership environment. That’s because after visiting hundreds of dealerships and with thousands of dealership personnel, I have yet to find a store that doesn’t have trouble implementing the fundamentals on a daily basis, let alone investing in the education required to serve the future Gen-Y buyer.

Take this story I caught wind of a few months ago: A salesperson was sent into early retirement because of a simple mandate the dealership put forth. What was it? Well, all management wanted was for salespeople to contact customers on their birthdays. Talk about a dealership in need of a BDC.

Now, let’s look at the typical tasks of a BDC:

• Handle incoming sales calls.

• Follow up with unsold showroom customers.

• Be responsible for equity and other promotional calls.

• Administer targeted e-mail campaigns and e-newsletters.

• Build fleet business.

• Handle lease returns and renewals, including all related phone, mail and e-mail communications.

• Handle Internet leads and appointment setting.

• Conduct parts and service retention marketing.

• Conduct internal CSI calls and e-mails.

• Resolve all parts and service-related issues within pre-determined parameters.

• Monitor and manage dealer reputation issues.

• Turn over deals that involve Internet customers.

• Provide updated market pricing data to management and staff.

Should I go on? Now, here are a couple of reasons a BDC fails:

• It wasn’t staffed correctly.

• Functions and desired outcomes were never properly defined.

• You deem the job as entry level, pay entry-level wages and hire entry-level talent.

• No one on the BDC staff is empowered.

• There is little to no investment in training.

• Success hinges on one person.

Whether you have a roomful of people and call them your dealership’s BDC or not, you will need people who are capable of executing a sophisticated, business-generating and customer-retention plan. To achieve that, you need to ask yourself two important questions: 1) How much change am I open to? and 2) How far am I willing to go to push my employees?

Answers to those questions must factor in the culture of the store and the style in which the store is run. So, to BDC or not to BDC … Is that really the question?

Cory Mosley is principal of Mosley Training LLC, a nationally recognized training provider focused on new-school techniques, products and services. E-mail him at cory.mosley@bobit.com.

 

Comments

  1. 1. Garrett Sanders [ October 29, 2010 @ 10:39PM ]

    Excellent article, you hit the nail on the head.

  2. 2. Curtis Gambrell [ March 23, 2011 @ 12:59PM ]

    BDC... my personal oppinion is that a BDC, should never be responsible for bringing customers into the the store. Let the sales people do it. BDC, can do whatever else. The reason so many dealers don't like the sales people doing it, is because they think sales people pre qualify. I say offer the phone training, then check the sales people on recorded incoming phone calls, either privately or during sales meetings (constructively of course).

  3. 3. Aaron Evans [ March 21, 2013 @ 04:29AM ]

    A well thought out and informing article, thank you. My experience shows that those dealerships that invest money in their BDC staff will reap huge rewards and take their success to a new level never before achieved.

    There are many shops that pay 10-20 K per mos for internet leads that are potentially 80% garbage, or on the same car that was sold last week...why not invest those dollars into your BDC personnel?

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Author Bio

Cory Mosley

Dealer Consultant

Cory is a sales training specialist who brings a new-school approach to automotive retailing. Get his monthly take on the opportunities and challenges impacting today’s front-end departments right here at www.fi-magazine.com.

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