The Final Stage of Transitioning to an In-House BDC

Up to this point in the outsource-to-in-house-BDC transition, the bulk of the in-house preparation has been planning, along with some training. While the entire transition can take up to a year or longer, the final stage should be completed in a month or less.

By this stage, buy-in should be dealership-wide, key members of management are trained, the functions of the in-house BDC are defined, the actual BDC is set up, and recruiting for BDC personnel has begun. Now, it’s time for hiring and training. While still outsourcing business development functions, a trainer from the outsource provider will assist in hiring and in the full-scale training of BDC employees. First, you need a business development manager (BDM), if you haven’t hired one already. BDMs must lead by example, have strong communication skills, and be able to take any customer T.O. in the BDC and set an appointment.

A BDM is a coach and must encourage competition while maintaining unity and teamwork in the BDC. He or she holds BDC employees accountable and when necessary, documents and addresses less-than-outstanding performance or attitude issues. While your outsource provider will assist in the initial staffing, training and set-up of compensation plans of BDC employees, the BDM will take over those duties once the department is live.

The two other positions to fill in the BDC are business development team leaders (BDLs) and business development representatives (BDRs). After looking internally for good BDC employees, the best way to locate BDC employees is to run an ad for customer service representatives on various online listing services offering a ground-level opportunity with room for advancement and free skills training.

Once you have applicants, conduct the first interviews over the phone. The main disqualifier during this stage is an inability to communicate well on the phone. You need to be particularly careful hiring in today’s job market; you don’t want people who have lost their jobs due to the economy and are looking for holding-pattern jobs. They are likely to move on once something in their field opens up.

The next stage of the hiring process is the training camp, which should last about three days. Normally, only about 50 percent of applicants who said they would attend actually show, so plan accordingly. As the days progress, the camp goes from a classroom instructional setting to an interactive role-playing setting and ultimately an assessment. I always give everybody all the information and train them top to bottom. Those who want it badly enough will go after it. They’ll study it. They’ll practice. They’ll ask questions, and they’ll begin to weed themselves out or shine. The first day of the camp covers:
    Commitment, attitude and stress management
    Communication skills
    How to adjust to different personality types and customers
    The importance of tonality while on the phone
    Selling the sizzle based on rapport-building
    Call guides and best practices
    Influence and persuasion techniques
    How to overcome any objection
    Basic job requirements (daily tasks, how to develop a work plan, etc.)

The second day of the training camp focuses more on BDC processes and extensive role-playing. The role-playing is, in reality, the second interview. It allows you to start eliminating applicants who can’t really grasp what you do. You ultimately want articulate individuals who can sell the appointment (not the car) and build rapport. I’m a big believer in information retention assessment, which is done orally through role-playing and written exams.

I use a pros-and-cons system for role-playing. I ask for 20-plus pros and cons to be written down on every role-play session so people really think about what it takes to “own the phone” by NOT sounding fake, scripted or insincere. The people who are listening closely and writing down what is done well, what is missed and what needs improvement get more out of the exercise than the people role-playing. Leaders begin to surface when they reiterate, encourage and actually begin assisting with the training discussions.

To end the training camp, give a written exam to see how much the applicants have retained. Essay questions are best for evaluating retention, but I also suggest including true/false, fill-in-the-blank, match-up and multiple-choice questions. After the exams, you’ll be able to identify the strongest candidates, with BDM and BDL candidates rising to the top. The makeup and functions of your BDC will dictate how many BDLs and BDRs you need to hire. Generally speaking, each BDL can manage three or four BDRs.

Once you have your BDC team assembled, the outsource provider should provide specific CRM- and process-training on the functions of the in-house BDC, in addition to compliance training on Do Not Call and state regulations. Someone in-house should train the new hires on HR-related matters and dealership policies (the standard policy/procedural training or orientation everyone in the dealership undergoes).

Once the post-hire training is finished, it’s time for the in-house BDC to go live. At this point, you may choose to do all business development work in-house or you may have the outsource provider continue to do some work while the new BDC gets on its feet. Many dealers utilize the latter approach, which I call a hybrid BDC.

Before the in-house transition is 100-percent complete, the trainer should follow up with mystery-shop calls and Internet inquiries for a minimum of one month. And, because 100-percent employee retention isn’t reality, the trainer may conduct mini-training camps for any new hires during the first month(s).

Vol. 6, Issue 4