The ramp-up process is a vital stage in the transition from an outsource business development solution to an in-house BDC. Once you’re at this stage of the game, there are several aspects to cover before the final steps. During the ramp-up process, there are several tasks to complete:

• Get buy-in from the rest of the staff. It’s “grow or go time!”
• Determine the functions the in-house BDC will perform
• Get the proper equipment, hardware and software in place
• Train key members of management on greeting appointments and the reverse TO process
• Commence training for other employees (sales, finance, service), so they can familiarize themselves with the new and/or updated processes that will go into effect soon
• Begin recruiting potential BDC personnel for training evaluations

As I mentioned in a previous article, the entire process to transition from outsource to in-house business development efforts can take anywhere from a month to a year, and the ramp-up process is the longest step to complete because there are so many aspects involved..

In the preparation stage, you should have gotten buy-in from dealership management. In the ramp-up stage, getting buy-in from the rest of the staff should be less problematic if getting buy-in from management was successful. Having buy-in that trickles from the top down is crucial. With management’s support, present the same plan of action you presented to management to your other employees. Discuss how the in-house BDC will change certain processes, and explain to employees in detail how it’s going to enhance each area of their business and success. Address questions and concerns, so there are no unresolved concerns or reservations among staff members because commitments are ineffective when reservations exist

Work with your outsource provider to determine the functions your in-house BDC will perform. You can align what you want your in-house BDC to do with what your outsource provider is currently doing and build on that over time. There are many different functions a BDC can perform. Some of the most popular I see among in-house BDCs performing well include: working Internet leads, working purchased leads, taking incoming sales calls from advertising and direct mail and converting e-mails to phone conversations that, with skillful rapport building skills, will lead to more appointments and sales. 

If you haven’t done so already, determine the location of the BDC. Once the room is ready to go (a broom closet will not work; the BDC needs the be in a enclosed office space away from the sales floor), you can begin to set up the furniture and hardware in the BDC (i.e., data and voice lines, desks, phones, headsets, computers, etc.), and once the computers are set up, you can install the necessary software or network settings on the machines.

During the ramp-up stage, key members of management begin training (most likely sales management and possibly service management if your BDC will be setting and following up on service appointments). Specifically, they’re trained on greeting the appointments set by the BDC, as well as what I call the “reverse T.O.” process, which is the manager greeting the appointment and assessing  the customer before turning them over to a salesperson. I’m a firm believer of management doing the initial greeting with customers to assess the SF or retail fork in the road first.

In addition to the management training, you’ll want to set up some important training sessions for your other employees to acclimate them to the new processes. By this time, you’ve already worked with the outsource provider to determine what functions the outsource BDC will perform and what functions the in-house one will perform once it goes live, so your outsource provider should be able to assist you with both of these important training phases.

Towards the end of the ramp-up stage, recruiting and hiring BDC personnel begins. Remember, you might already have the right people to work in the in-house BDC already on payroll, so don’t forget to evaluate your existing staff before looking outwards to hire. Training and testing ensures better hires. During the preparation stage, you chose a point person, or as I was referred to back in the day a “pit boss,” to bridge the gap with the outsource BDC. The point person may or may not be suited to be the in-house BDC manager (BDM). Your outsource provider should be able to help determine if the point person will make a good leader for the BDC. If not, you’ll need to hire one along with business development representatives (BDRs). Training BDC personnel is part of the final stage of the in-house to outsource process, which I’ll cover next month. In the meantime, don’t give up. There are Dealers that will shine in ‘09! Some already are.

Vol 6, Issue 3