|There is no army of one. Even in the United States Army, that really isn’t true either. There are no Rambos in the Army. The Green Berets, Delta Force, Airborne Rangers—all these units are elite teams, not stand-alone people. But for whatever reason, in Internet departments and BDCs across the country, Internet sales managers and BDC managers are expected to be an army of one or attempt to be, operating like Rambo, but without the firepower.|
There are two situations that are epidemic in dealerships across the country. Either dealerships still treat the Internet department or BDC as a necessary evil and constantly make life for those in that department difficult, or dealers expect the world from their Internet or BDC department without providing the necessary resources, training and support.
Most departments seem to be understaffed and under-resourced and are often overworked. This simply does not make sense. Almost 90 percent of auto shoppers go online before ever stepping foot into the dealership, so it would make sense that dealers allocate proper resources to that department.
I found myself in this situation when I was a BDC director, and it drove me crazy. I had this huge responsibility and this huge opportunity only to be limited in resources. Well, what was I going to do—give up? Nope. I taught myself everything I needed by using the Internet and reading books. These steps, however, will only take you so far.
One day I had an epiphany, and that was to leverage my vendors. Yes, my vendors, those wonderful people who come around or call me constantly trying to entice me to buy or use their products and services. I decided to use the resources at my disposal. Here are several types of vendors and how to utilize their services.
Web Site Developers
Make sure you are notified when there is a new design added to their template library. Lastly, use their training! That’s right; I always made sure there was constant training and re-training. I made sure my team and I knew our Web site inside and out to the point that we were able to use our Web site as a PowerPoint presentation.
Third-Party Lead Providers
It was great to get a perspective as to where a lead actually comes from. We did this with almost all of our lead providers. The ones that did not want to participate in our education or continually made excuses as to why they couldn’t show up were eventually cancelled. I also made sure my vendor representatives kept in constant contact with me. They notified me when and if they felt my department was slipping a little bit.
Used Car Classified Listing Sites
These companies occasionally gave me tickets to various events, like sporting events and Broadway shows. Sometimes, these tickets were used for contests created for the department. If you can get your vendors to provide any tickets or gifts, pass them on to your prospects and clients. These companies also offered regional training, which I often took part in.
Even if your dealership is small and has a little budget, even if you have dissention on the floor and an “us versus them” mentality, and even if you are a one-man or -woman show, stop trying to take on the world by yourself.
If you are new to the industry or whatever your situation, you always have options. Just don’t try to be an army of one. You can and will see very quickly which vendors actually care. Good vendors are your true dealership partners.
Brian Reed will depart F&I Express, the company he co-founded in 2008, four months following its acquisition by Cox Automotive.