Avoid the BDC pitfalls

Posted by



When set up properly, Business Development Centres (BDCs) are a great way to grow your dealership’s sales and service business.

The trouble is that many I have encountered over the years were designed and launched hastily, and have been dismantled as quickly as they were built.

I’ve often said that I’ve witnessed more BDC funerals than births. You’ll want to review this article if you are considering either building one yourself or dismantling one you already have in place.

Setting the record straight: I am a fan of BDC’s I am a fan of Business Development Centres and have heard from many that say it’s time for them to end. Why dismantle a BDC when they cover a lot of process failures within the current dealership structure, including poor inbound call and lead handling by the floor sales team?

BDCs also assist with the missing role of true Business Development, including marketing to Customers in Equity, Declined Services, Unsold Showroom Follow-up and so on.

Truth is, it’s time for us to go beyond the current BDC setups and arrange for a model that is more sustainable and helpful for your overall dealership.

Even when a dealership has a well-designed and high performing BDC in place, there are tons of opportunities left by the wayside.

One element that is particularly harmful for dealerships is the atrophy that sets in for the floor sales team. We have noticed with increasing regularity that the floor sales teams of dealerships with high performing BDCs tend to cease their own business development efforts.

This hinders the opportunity to create repeat and referral sales because of the reliance on the BDC staff to manage post sale follow up. In addition, when a customer doesn’t purchase on their first visit, we see be-back process breakdowns, as it tends to fall through the cracks.

The current BDC setup needs to be adjusted from a Dealership Centre to the overall Dealership.

In simple terms, a BDD is a dealership that has created a culture of Business Development throughout the entire dealership. On a daily basis, everyone who walks through the door as an employee is responsible for helping the dealership grow sales and services.

It is the difference between a dealership where the employees come to work-to-work versus coming to work-to-wait for someone to develop an opportunity-based environment.

The condition that exists in many dealerships is the waiting and wishing game where we just waste time hoping someone comes in to buy something instead of pro-actively generating opportunities.

This has been exacerbated in many instances by the creation of Business Development Centres because many employees simply use the excuse
that the BDC is responsible for developing opportunities. You have to decide what is best for your dealership. I already know which you prefer.

It starts at the top with senior dealership management. If the boss buys in, the team will buy in.

I hear all the time from senior managers that they are looking for the team to “buy in” before they act on an idea.

But this is the wrong sentiment. The team will never buy in until the boss decides if they buy in. The team may question or wish to improve an idea a boss buys into, but if they know the boss is set on it, they will soon buy in too. So, once the boss buys in, the team just needs to know how to do it.

A foundational element to set up your BDD is to create a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) culture at the dealership and track the business activities of your team members.

This seemingly simple concept is an Achilles heel in a lot of strategies because the managers do not actively use the system themselves.

If the managers use it daily and teach the team how to effectively use it, then great things can happen.

It also takes a lot of time to train the team properly on the CRM, so be sure to set aside the time and assign responsibility for training to a high ranking manager on the team.

Create a framework for what the team needs to know and start the teaching. Most CRM companies provide an excellent online training platform so self-learning is simple. Just make sure your team learns the essentials and test them to ensure they do it your preferred way.

Daily CRM checkouts are a vital step to making sure your team completes the agreed upon daily tasks. Once the CRM culture is established you will have some good momentum to move along the BDD path.

Part of what makes a BDC so attractive to dealership management is the fact that they generate a lot of work output because they have created effective daily work habits.

This is not always the case on the showroom floor where it is almost celebrated as an artistic workspace.

As a result, a lot of great salespeople do not achieve their full potential because we do not hold them accountable to daily work habits for calls made, emails sent, social media engagement, etc.

In a study of habit building at University College in London it was determined that it takes 66 times to make something a habit. This study convinces me that most people simply give up before they create good work habits. Great managers can make good employees great by just having them complete their daily habit.

If you expect your team to call, email and socialize each day, you’ll need to create the messages for them that are consistent with the marketing and promotion actions of the dealership.

Often when I train at a dealership I find that the sales team would love to do their daily work activities but they just don’t know what to say to prospects and customers.

The good news is one message a week can be powerful, and works with phone, email and social. In fact, maybe just start small with 12 monthly messages.

A good idea is to use what I used when I was selling cars at the dealership: The Holiday Follow up Plan… January – Happy New Year or Martin Luther King Day, February – Valentine’s Day, March – Happy St. Patrick’s Day and so on.

Once you have this mapped out think in terms of what you want to have your team communicate on a weekly basis…New arrivals, fresh trade-ins, try our service department, new accessories, etc.

Each member of your team has established circles of influence. They just may not realize it. The circles include friends, family, work contacts, neighbors, church or clubs and online social networks.

These circles may overlap a bit but if you asked them to list who they know and who they influence I believe your team would be amazed at how large their circles of influence actually are.

The key is to encourage them to let their circles know what they do for a living. Often we see salespeople frustrated because a friend or neighbor bought from a competitor because they didn’t realize the employee sold cars.

Social engagement within circles is very easy too, and can be accomplished by having your team members join Facebook, Google + and then “liking or plus one” posts made by customers.

They can comment (appropriately) and from time to time post a picture of a vehicle or a new story on a product or service.

With LinkedIn they can do “endorsements” of their customers for items they know they are good at.

Most dealerships are hubs of activity and it makes it tough to get much done during peak work hours.

Check your own work setting and make certain it is set up for uninterrupted work time.

Perhaps you need an electronic up system so your sales team knows they don’t have to watch the lot. Perhaps you need a room off the floor where you have work cubicles setup for making calls, sending emails or doing social posts.

In any case, eliminate interruptions and provide the right space for your team to be productive. Additionally, each team member needs to have set times where they can be on a computer to interact with the CRM tool.

In closing I’d just like to remind the leaders of the dealership (and that is each and every employee) that if it is to be, it is up to you!
No one can make you the very best. You have to make that call on your own.

Comments are closed.

Canadian auto dealer