Why limit your BDC team’s potential? Skilled agents can generate sales and service opportunities by taking on new assignments such as showroom outcome calls and database marketing.

Why limit your BDC team’s potential? Skilled agents can generate sales and service opportunities by taking on new assignments such as showroom outcome calls and database marketing. 

Many dealers I meet think of their business development center as a way to handle phone calls and respond to Internet leads. Of course, in a perfect world, every legitimate lead would go directly to a trained salesperson. But they are often too busy to answer the phone and sort through emails; in any case, many otherwise talented sales consultants simply don’t have the knack for it.

But consumers who call or email the store are narrowing their search to the one or two dealerships they will actually visit. You can’t afford to blow that call or burn that lead. So in comes a BDC. Problem solved? Not quite.
Structured correctly, a BDC should develop incremental sales, drive down your per-sale advertising cost and increase net profit. Let’s discuss two new jobs your BDC staff can take on this year.

1. Showroom Outcome Calls
To get the best and most useful feedback, showroom outcome calls should be made by a third party rather than the salesperson or manager, and they should try to reach everyone.

• Sold Customers: A brief, survey-type call to every buyer will help gauge their overall satisfaction, likeliness to recommend your dealership and any lingering questions or concerns. It’s also your first opportunity to confirm or set the customer’s first service appointment; you should also follow up in 60 days and again a few days before the appointment. Your service department will thank you.

If your agent asks, “On a scale of one to 10, how did we do?” and they come back with a “10,” you’ve got an advocate who would likely give you a glowing review online. Like I always say, we need the happy people telling on us, too.

• Unsold Customers: Unsold showroom customers also deserve a prompt phone call. Your staff should take a neutral, non-combative approach to find out what prevented the delivery. It can usually be narrowed down to one thing; common offenders include an unpleasant exchange with a salesperson or being pushed into the wrong vehicle. Sometimes you can work through it and sometimes you can’t. The point is, without knowing, you are powerless.

Look at your unsold traffic count and subtract your normal be-back percentage. What would a 10% to 15% close on the remaining customers mean to you in gross dollars? Add the long-term benefit of a high first-service ratio, the online reviews (even unsold customers sometimes have nice things to say) and the impact on CSI, and you can see how outbound calls can drive revenue.

2. Database Marketing
Marketing to your database offers limitless opportunities to employ strategies, campaigns, offers, events, service, coupons, rewards and more. The effectiveness lies in how individualized your message is. This represents the high end of CRM strategies and precision of execution.

Your BDC offers a highly organized environment that can devote more focus to a campaign than you’ll ever create in the showroom. They certainly have the capacity. A BDC agent can make eight times as many calls in a day as a salesperson, all while keeping the CRM updated, following up with an email and scheduling the customer’s next visit.

How about crossover between sales and service? How many times a day do you hear about a salesperson setting a service appointment or a service advisor scheduling a test drive? I started my first BDC in 1993. There was no such thing as Internet leads or email marketing. We didn’t have a CRM. We didn’t even use Excel. We relied on graph paper and follow-up cards.

It may sound archaic, but a lack of technology forced us to be targeted in our approach. We called closed service ROs. We called lease customers. We called conquest lists, manufacturer manifests, referrals and customers who were going out of warranty or near the end of their installment loan. Our goal was to set appointments, and we did. … We just weren’t very efficient. Today, with the technology made available by CRM providers and data-mining software companies, a BDC can be both effective and extremely efficient.

Finally, if you’re thinking in terms of ROI, nothing on this page should deter you. The advertising costs for incremental sales from a BDC are typically negligible. With the correct pay plans in place, adding these functions will benefit all parties. BDC pay plans will be the subject of next month’s article, so be sure to look for it. Meanwhile, good luck and good selling.

Greg Wells is president of AllCall Automotive Contact Center. He is a 25-year industry veteran with nationally recognized expertise in BDCs and Internet sales. [email protected]