As new vehicle inventory shortages, evolving consumer demands and shifting buyer loyalty disrupts the auto industry, proactive dealers are discovering new, exciting opportunities inside their Business Development Centers.
While a dealership’s Business Development Center, AKA the BDC, has served an important role in the sales process, dealers are finding new ways to leverage the BDC to support other key dealership operations, including pre-owned vehicle acquisitions, service-to-sales and customer retention efforts.
But to build a better automotive BDC and equip their team to succeed, dealers need the right tools, training, structure and process to support their approach.
In this blog post, we’ll explore why the dealership BDC is so important and share ways for dealers to improve their BDC department including
· What makes an effective and efficient BDC in 2022
· Steps to structure your BDC to support dealership-wide success
· How to maximize your BDC efforts to support service, acquisition and retention efforts
Tailoring Your BDC to be Effective and Efficient in 2022
In previous years, working in a BDC meant making as many outbound calls as possible, focusing more on the quantity of the leads than the quality. But as brand loyalty is diminishing amid inventory shortages and many dealers are turning their focus onto their service drives to fuel their automotive sales and retention efforts, the BDC can play a new strategic role in the dealership.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building an effective and efficient BDC, the most successful dealers tailor their strategy to their unique needs, utilizing their BDC to bridge the gap between any holes in their dealership’s sales process.
To define your strategy, start by assessing your current BDC to identify any gaps in your process. Ask questions like:
· How does your BDC connect with the rest of your dealership? How do they communicate on topics like new programs or models?
· How can the hand-off between your BDC and sales staff be improved? What details are being shared between departments?
· What size team do you need to improve the customer experience from beginning to end?
· What are your dealership’s current job descriptions for the BDC? Do they appropriately assess the gaps in how your dealership is assisting customers?
Structuring Your BDC to Support Dealership-Wide Success
Similar to strategy, BDC structure should be driven by a dealership’s needs. Regardless of whether a dealership takes a cradle-to-grave approach with their BDC or leads are handed off to the sales department, the right structure enables the BDC to support sales, service, retention and beyond.
To guide their approach, it’s critical the BDC is well-connected to the rest of the dealership and equipped with up-to-date customer insights to fuel personalized sales and service interactions. Your BDC should meet regularly with your sales team to discuss important details like in-demand makes and models, as well as the goals of each department.
To support a connected approach, ensure you’re tracking success against metrics and KPIs that encourage and measure relationship-building – not just immediate sales-related figures like appointments scheduled. This includes recognizing efforts like your BDC successfully answering a customer’s question in a way that leads to continued shopping.
Look at what empowers your team to deliver that exceptional CX and incentivize employees to take these actions including cooperation with teammates, engagement in training and effective use of resources and tools.
Maximizing Your BDC Efforts to Support Service, Acquisition and Retention Efforts
With the service department supporting a dealership’s sales, pre-owned acquisition and retention efforts, it’s an incredibly valuable area to position and apply the efforts of the BDC. However, it’s important for the BDC to take a data-driven approach when identifying and engaging service customers.
Understanding the Customer Journey with Data
Success hinges on a BDC understanding where in their vehicle ownership journey a customer is in order to identify when they will likely be the most interested in service. It is also important to know which customers present the greatest service-to-sales or pre-owned acquisition opportunities.
To support this approach, instruct your BDC to serve as a service-to-sales liaison, in charge of breaking down the barrier between service and sales and fueling an efficient service-to-sales process.
Task your BDC to mine upcoming service appointments for sales prospects, such as those out of warranty or over their lease mileage to present tailored offers. Ensure your BDC is contacting prospects with a prepared upgrade offer in-hand, accounting for the customer’s trade-in value, any OEM incentives and more. Provide the best overall BDC experience.
Taking this approach also empowers your BDC to identify which service appointments can convert to sales appointments for prospective trade or buy-back opportunities, fueling your dealership’s pre-owned inventory while maintaining optimum levels of customer satisfaction. Leveraging customer data and a dealership sales platform like Mastermind, task your BDC managers to identify which service customers are driving in-demand makes or models and which represent the best pre-owned acquisition opportunities. These are often customers approaching end of lease or finance term
Finally, to proactively prevent defection and protect their customer base, dealers need to consistently engage their loyalty audience – a job perfectly suited for the BDC, especially one well-connected to the dealership service department.
Leveraging conveniently set service appointments, notifications, and reminders, your BDC should be looking for opportunities to regularly remind customers of why they trusted your dealership in the first place. Every communication touchpoint should build on the last, meeting your customers where they are in their ownership journey and keeping them engaged through the years.
While the need for a new kind of BDC had already grown in importance in recent years, new challenges brought on by shortages of inventory, new kinds of digitalization and post-pandemic consumer buying habits are pushing dealers of every size to reconsider the role of the BDC altogether.
To build a better dealership BDC in 2022, dealers need to make sure they’re appointing the right team, the right tools and the right expectations for success. With this approach, dealership BDC staff are empowered to truly build lasting relationships with customers – never again penciling someone in while hoping they show.