Look for these essential skills and abilities when choosing the person who will helm your business development center.

Look for these essential skills and abilities when choosing the person who will helm your business development center.

The business development center (BDC) is the heart of the modern dealership. It drives traffic to the sales, F&I and service departments and sustains relationships long after customers walk out the door. As such, it is imperative to have the right person in charge of this critical operation.

A great BDC manager leads by example, inspires, motivates and earns the utmost respect from each member of their team. He or she will drive the entire department to achieve both individual and group goals, and will ensure your BDC lives up to its lofty goals.

Finding a great BDC manager begins with a great selection process. Dealers need to clearly identify the traits and talents the ideal candidate should possess, then make an effort to find someone who can live up to every single one of them.

The Ideal Candidate

First, successful BDC managers typically have an upbeat, engaging personality. This job requires passion, dedication and a love for everything that goes into running a profitable BDC. Like your sales team, a successful BDC is all about having the right attitude. If the manager believes in what they are doing, they will motivate the people around them to do push harder and do more.

If you can find someone who already has managerial experience, even better. A proven track record can’t be ignored, but don’t rule out employees looking to move up the ranks. You might have the right person already working in your BDC, just waiting for the opportunity to shine.

A competitive spirit is the next trait you’ll want to look for in your candidates. They need to have a desire and drive to not just meet expectations, but exceed them. They need to believe industry benchmarks are a starting point, not an end goal. And they need to be willing to push themselves along with their team to strive for excellence in every transaction. They need to take pride in a job well done, both their own and that of their entire team. That kind of attitude will trickle down through every person in the department, pushing everyone to do their best work at all times.

A good BDC manager will understand that his or her role isn’t to sell cars — their role is to sell appointments and build relationships. Making that distinction, and having someone who believes the success of the dealership is tied to the success of the BDC, is a key trait to look for.

Your BDC manager needs to understand their department’s role in the bigger picture. They must be comfortable working with the other departments to foster a team spirit. If the BDC manager respects their coworkers and customers across the dealership, their team will follow their lead. A good manager — and not just a good BDC manager — leads by example, showing their team what they expect in terms of work ethic, ability, respect and communication by setting the standard with their own actions.

Communication skills are important to look for as well. The BDC is all about communication, both with consumers and within the dealership. The BDC manager needs to have the ability to communicate clearly and respectfully both verbally and in print.

The BDC is often the dealership’s first and last impression for consumers. Ensuring they are welcomed warmly and leave feeling respected and valued is key to building the kinds of relationships that lead to referrals and repeat business. If your BDC doesn’t come across as respectful, knowledgeable and helpful, the dealership might lose customers before they even have a chance to walk in the door.

Time management is another must-have skill in a top-line BDC manager. They need to be able to prioritize tasks — both their own and that of their team — on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. They need to be able to keep the department on task, and ensure all the BDC responsibilities are not just done well, but done in a timely manner.

The ability to multitask is key here. The BDC manager needs to be able to keep an eye on individual team members as well as the performance of the group on a daily, weekly and monthly basis; ensure everyone on the team is using the CRM regularly and correctly; monitor lead response and be able to make adjustments as necessary; monitor the quality of all communications going in and out of the department; and, finally, be coaching and mentoring team members on a regular basis. Sound like a lot? It is, but a great BDC manager will make it look effortless.

The ideal candidate will be creative as well. They will constantly be on the lookout for new ideas for campaigns, call guides and templates to try to keep improving the performance of their team. They will embrace training, not just for their team, but for themselves as well. Industry trends and best practices are constantly changing, and new ideas come from a lot of different places. Having a manager who looks to push themselves and grow as a person and employee will ensure your BDC stays vibrant and successful, rather than stagnating.

Finally, dedication — to the dealership and the BDC — is essential. That’s not to say you should expect your BDC manager to work 60-plus hours a week and have no life outside the dealership — that is neither reasonable nor desired, given that kind of focus can only lead to burnout. Instead, look for someone who can work 40 to 50 hours a week and trusts their staff to do their jobs the rest of the time.

The mark of a good manager is a department that runs equally well whether they are physically present or not. If it does, that means they have built the kind of culture, attitude and drive you find in the most successful operations, and they have created and maintained a team that is just as dedicated to success as the manager themselves.

3 Tests For Your Next BDC Manager

Once you find a few individuals who possess the talent and traits you are looking for, I recommend the following items for a second interview:

Communication Skills Test

Create a scenario with an Internet customer. Explain the nature of the inquiry or create an email and have the candidate type up a reply. It doesn’t matter what your specific policies are. You aren’t looking to see if they already know how you do business. The goal is to see what kind of communicator your candidate is. The email should be helpful and compelling, and correct spelling and grammar is a must.

Phone Etiquette Test

Have the candidate role-play a call with another employee in the role of a phone up. Again, store policies are not important; you are testing their phone skills. Have the caller throw in a couple of objections and see how the candidate overcomes them. Does he or she feel confident on the phone? Are they a good listener? Do they have a professional demeanor at all times? Make it a “heat” call — does the candidate have an understanding of tone, suggest a resolution to the caller’s problem or a transfer to someone who can help?

Problem-Solving Test

Present a few challenging issues such as punctuality, public insubordination or other negative behavior experienced in the BDC, and ask them how they would solve the problem. Your candidate must be respected by and inspiring to the team, but must also have departmental standards for behavior, and know how to follow through when those standards are not met.

I have seen the benefits of hiring a BDC manager possessing these traits, and the damage that can be done and the time wasted with a person who does not fit the bill. Make your choice wisely. The growth, attitude and performance of your BDC depends on it!

Wendy Reeves is the BDC trainer for DealerStrong and an expert in improving show rates. [email protected].