As we continue to grow and rebuild during these challenging times, there are elements of the dealership that may have been cut, trimmed down, or completely removed because of reductions in staffing. When talking with our dealer-partners, the BDC was definitely one of them. In March, we had no idea if people would be looking at vehicles, who would be shopping online, and if there would be any auto-intenders in the market.
The declines that happened so rapidly in March and April began rebounding almost as quickly in May and June, with automotive seeing much less dramatic dips in sales than previously anticipated. Now, more than ever, we need qualified, trained, professional automotive BDC agents answering calls, texts, emails, and setting appointments to assist with some of the new ways we are selling cars.
Why are there so many variables?
BDCs at the dealership have been a topic of discussion as early as the 80s, yet it is something we still have not gotten quite right. There are thousands of “perfected” models, ideas on the right approach from volume to pay plan, to specific BDC training by professionals that we have paid thousands of dollars a week to try and perfect. Just to make sure the team is prepared.
And yet here we are, trying to figure out who needs a BDC, if we even need them, should we have a separate sales and service BDC--all the questions we have been asking for decades. Discussions continue on Dealer Forums (see DealerRefresh’s discussion from earlier this year) on just this topic, and will not be going away in the near future.
Dealerships are innately different. From size and structure, to brand requirements and OEM initiatives, BDCs cannot be one size fits all. And what works for some will definitely not work for all.
But there are some consistent elements that will ensure any BDC will be able to perform to expectations.
Automotive has been given a blank white board. You can write on it anything you want. Think about that--your BDC may have had some really bad habits. Possibly you had a great manager, but the team was inherited and was underperforming.
Maybe you had outdated KPIs that made the team feel as though they would never be successful.
Perhaps you finally have the opportunity to hire the RIGHT people and have them trained the RIGHT way, instilling the habits and behaviors that you know have been successful in the past or with others.
Take advantage of this and build the right team, the right way, with the right training.
How to Bring Back your Automotive BDC the Right Way
Hire the Right People
When researching what makes a great BDC agent, most of the traits probably won’t surprise you.
- Positive personality
- Good conversational skills
- Quick learner
- Technologically adept
- Sales mindset
Notice that knowledge of the dealership was not listed. It is INCREDIBLY important, but can be taught quickly to an agent who possesses the other traits listed above. You cannot teach motivation well, but you can train someone on the specific elements of your store.
Don’t Fluctuate the Pay Plan Every Month
Once you hire the right people, ensure he/she stays. One of the quickest ways to get a successful person to quit is to mess with the pay-plan.
Now, I completely understand, and have had to, adjust pay-plans to fit economic situations at the dealership, but at the end of the day, people work the plan. If you change or adjust too much, your staff will be frustrated, confused, and lose sight of your specific benchmarks they need to meet. You will see productivity decline and trained agents leave if you adjust pay-plans--especially when they don’t benefit the agent.
BDC Training is a Must
Speaking of trained agents, this is a non-negotiable. Training is an expensive investment, but necessary to ensure the voice and face of the dealership is engaging with customers in the best possible way. All you have to do is listen to recorded calls to hear the painful truth--if you are not investing in your BDC agents, you will lose opportunities.
Depending on your manufacturer, group, or location, training will vary greatly. And not all “trainers” are truly going to equip you for success. Make sure to ask the following questions before you move forward:
- Have you run/worked in a BDC previously?
- Are you familiar with my brand and brand voice?
- Ask for recommendations within and outside of your brand
- Will you be onsite to demonstrate calls for my agents and manager?
- Are you familiar with *chat/CRM/text/video, digital retailing tools you are using*
Have the Right Tools in Place
A truly effective BDC is a solid mix of amazing people and cutting-edge technology. Once you have the people in place, you also need to make sure they will have the tools to not only be successful, but to stand out in a crowded inbox.
- Is your chat tool optimized to be successful? Chat can be as robust or as paired down as you desire, but make sure you understand all of the elements. Is it managed, or do you need a team to respond. Can you take over a conversation or does the agent have to send it to you. How will your agents know when leads come in if they came from chat?
- Digital Retailing--this is all the buzz right now, especially once we entered this new socially distant time of our lives. Once you have chosen the right tool for you, ensure that your agents are fully trained on this as well. A DR lead must be handled differently than a website or form lead. These are generally low-funnel shoppers who are ready to move forward. Make sure your agents are prepared as well.
- Video is one of the best ways to build relationships with customers over the phone/internet. If you do not have a video tool you are utilizing, reach out and we can assist with some easy-to-use and cost effective solutions.
A successful BDC is a top-down endeavor
This may be the most important element of the discussion. As you are building/rebuilding your dealership’s BDC, make sure that you have the right person in place who will create a culture of success. Culture can be extremely rewarding or incredibly toxic, and if it is toxic, you will never have a successful team in place.
"Servant leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don't work for you; you work for them." -Ken Blanchard
If you want to win, have the right people in place from the top down, and then watch the team grow, develop, and exceed goals.
- If you are looking to rebuild your BDC, reach out! We can help maximize what you have and cut what you don’t need. Our research-based approach and years of experience with multiple manufacturers can help get you in the right direction
- If you want to avoid the constant turnover of BDC agents and managers, let us know. We have the perfect solution for you and your team!