Under the Hood: Lessons from Managing a BDC

March 11, 2020

Welcome to our new series of anonymous interviews with the people who make the retail automotive machine work. Interested in knowing what’s on your BDC Manager's mind? You’ve come to the right place. We interviewed an anonymous BDC Manager so they could give honest answers directly. Read on to find out the qualities our anonymous BDC manager looks for in a successful rep, the importance of bringing hospitality to the role, and a trend some dealerships are trying with their BDC departments that doesn’t seem to be working out too well.

What would you like management to know about your role and your department but wouldn't feel comfortable saying without anonymity?

A well run BDC is worth it’s the expense for the success of the front end of the dealership.  Too often salespeople that work the “floor” are not inclined to work the phones and emails with the same energy.  Today’s internet has given consumers the ability to get instant price and availability gratification without ever leaving their computer monitors. Statistics show that the first response to an inquiry is often the dealership the consumer ends up buying from. BDC reps are the only employees who are focused on the quick internet/phone response and offer the best success for bringing potential customers through the doors.

Favorite thing about the BDC role? Least favorite?

As the Manager of the department, my favorite thing was seeing how impactful the department became to total monthly sales. When I started, the BDC was a part of 32% of the monthly sales.  When I left the department, the BDC had touched 83% of all the monthly sales!

My least favorite thing was the enormous amount of rejection.  Each rep is expected to contact 100 people a day. We hope to get 10-20 appointments. That’s A LOT of “No’s!”.  It takes a special person to do that day in and day out. This leads to my second least favorite thing: always looking to hire and train new people. Turn over was often big!

If you had a magic wand what tools would you like to have? What would help the BDC the greatest?

My magic tool would be anything that could give the department an infinite amount of leads.  This would be most helpful for the department as leads are the first step to success and it’s always been a numbers game.

How is your role viewed versus the traditional sales role?

They are very different. A floor salesperson is an individual that can work face to face with a customer (I.e. meet and greet, test drive, do a well-versed walk around the vehicle, and negotiate). The BDC does not SELL cars, BUT there is a SALES component to what they do.  BDRs are often the first point of contact with our consumers - who act as the store’s concierges. First impressions cannot be changed later. A BDC rep motivates the consumer to want to take action and visit the dealership. Their job is to drive traffic! The floor sales person’s job is to show the product, negotiate and close the deal.  Both are essential to the success of the sales department.

How is your relationship with your sales team and customers?

Overall, I believe the connection the sales team makes with our customers is essential to result in a sale.  Often, a customer would rather deal with the BDC rep when they arrived because they had made the connection with them (and not the floor salesperson).  In order to create a better transition, we would have the BDC rep come out and meet and greet the customer, and then personally introduce the customer to the salesperson who would be taking them on the test drive.  The BDC rep might pop back in to check on the customer during the sales process to show a united front and help promote a family-type experience for the customer.

How do you think BDC and sales teams' relationships are at large?

I believe the GM sets the pace for this relationship. If pay plans result in pitting one department against another, then the result will be a volatile relationship. However, if the situation is one where the lead/customer is handed off in a professional manner from the BDC rep to the floor salesperson it should be a win-win for all involved. I can only speak for my dealership and tell you that it was a wonderful working situation.  Again, my GM set the pace and the environment in a very positive manner.

What could make these relationships better?

Pay plans that don’t interfere with one another. GM’s that set the right environment. The process that includes both the BDC rep and the floor salesperson working together to serve the customer.

Can BDC answer everything in one call?

For the most part - yes.  If they can’t then they don’t have the correct tools at their disposal.  In this day and age, every detail of a vehicle should be right in front of them.  On occasion, we might get a really strange question about I.e.: the interior color of the glove box, etc. and we’d have to go pull the car.  However, that’s the exception and not the rule. The number one rule in the BDC: once you have the consumer engaged, don’t lose them until you make the appointment!  Having all the information the consumer is looking for, at your fingertips, is imperative for a smooth and successful outcome.

Actually, the problem we encountered more often was the timing! GMs want cars on the internet ASAP, but often it wouldn’t have a full description or it would be without pics, etc… and we’d have to go find the car to answer a customer’s question.  Quickly getting the ENTIRE listing on the web is essential.

What are some of the issues in the industry and how it could be better with BDC?

The trend I keep seeing is that dealerships are trying to eliminate their BDC departments and train their floor salespeople to do it all.  I am unaware of success with this model. They have different skill sets so it would be nice to allow each team to specialize and simply make sure that the handoffs are better.

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