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How to Increase Dealership BDC Effectiveness

In recent years, ongoing inventory shortages, rapid digitalization and evolving consumer buying habits have created new challenges for auto dealers. Amid these challenges, many dealers are discovering new opportunities previously overlooked in their BDCs.  

Today, a dealership’s Business Development Center, AKA the BDC, is serving a role much greater than a call center, oftentimes representing the first critical touchpoint in a customer’s buying journey – and a conduit to the showroom floor.  

But to maximize the efficacy of this increasingly important department, dealers need to first look at the efficiency of their BDC’s processes. In a 2021 industry survey, 47% of dealers reported time was wasted by their BDC working on duplicate leads.

The BDC can be used to convert more leads, engage other inbound sales opportunities, and support critical processes like service-to-sales operations. However, in order to do this effectively, dealers need the tools and team in place to fully integrate the department into their dealership’s customer experience strategy. 

In this blog post, we share how dealers can maximize the efficacy and efficiency of their BDC, including: 

  • How to properly staff and manage an efficient and modern BDC
  • How to structure the BDC to support dealership-wide success 
  • How to track and measure BDC efforts 

How to properly staff and manage an efficient and modern BDC

As potentially the first interaction between a prospective customer and a human being at a dealership, a BDC representative can play an outsized role in setting the tone for a customer’s experience. To maximize effectiveness, BDC management must focus on providing their BDC staff with access to as much information and insight as possible about their prospects. 

Dealership leaders also must ensure the customer’s interaction with the BDC is a seamless component of the overall customer experience. They can do this by making it an integrated – and not isolated – part of the larger dealership team. 

Audit Your Current Process 

While BDC staffing models vary, the primary role of the most common model is to deliver qualified prospects to the sales team for closing, rather than to close the sale themselves. 

Based on your model, assess your BDC to find any gaps in your current process, asking questions such as: 

  • 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?

Download the Guide:
Strategic Staffing Checklist for Dealerships in 2022

Select Effective BDC Managers

A properly managed BDC starts from the top down. When selecting BDC managers, dealers need to ensure they’re identifying people who can balance the necessary concern for metrics with a broader dedication to customer experience and customer relationship management. 

While there’s value in having someone with experience in sales managing a BDC on a day-to-day basis, the CX focus of the role suggests considering candidates with diverse backgrounds and experience managing in non-sales environments.

How to structure the dealership BDC 

When they’re structured, staffed and managed appropriately, BDCs can be useful accelerators of the prospect’s decision process and helpful contributors to the customer’s satisfaction with their overall dealership experience. Those engaged and happy customers ultimately show up in a dealership’s bottom line. 

But dealers need to make sure they’re staffing their BDCs with the right team., They need to arm the staff with the right information and insights about prospects and manage them to metrics that measure their success in building a relationship with customers.

When furnished with the right tools and insights, your BDC can streamline its entire process, from lead generation through identification, prioritization and activation. This isn’t limited to strictly new sales, however. If service-oriented BDC staff are provided with meaningful data-based information and insights about customers and prospects, they can return powerful results in customer experience and relationship building. 

Similarly, some dealers are leveraging their BDCs to mine their market for profitable pre-owned acquisitions by tasking their team to identify and engage customers driving in-demand vehicles who are well-positioned for buy-back or trade. 

Download the Whitepaper:
Pre-Owned Acquisition Checklist for Every Dealership Department

But for your BDC to direct their efforts and support any of these processes, they need to be connected to the rest of your dealership, including regularly communicating with your sales team on details like in-demand makes and models, sales and service goals. 

How to track and measure BDC efforts 

Some BDC teams are new, while others are updated models of traditional customer service center functions. In either case, they need to be managed against metrics that track not just immediate sales-related figures like sales appointments scheduled, but also relationship-building concepts. 

 This includes tracking: 

  • whether the prospect continues to interact with the dealership in some way even if they’re not ready for a sales appointment 
  • whether they are able to successfully answer a customer’s question in a way that leads to continued shopping. 

Remember: Aside from bringing in leads to the dealership, the BDC should also be committed to building relationships with customers regardless if they’re ready to purchase now or down the line.

 Engaging with the Right Customers

This is especially true for loyalty and retention clients who are still early in the sales cycle and not quality candidates for a sales appointment in the near term, but who still benefit from a personalized connection to the dealership through the BDC team. Over time, those customers will become hotter prospects ready for their next showroom visit, and your BDC should be compensated fairly for their long-term efforts.

The key motivating factor for every dealership BDC should be the importance of interacting with the right customers, in the right way, at the right time and with the right message. 

Managing BDC teams primarily to a metric that is appropriate just for customers at one stage in their relationship with the dealer – sales appointments scheduled – incentivizes them to either deprioritize customers at different points in that relationship building or to try to force customers into a stage for which they’re not ready.

Either response to that pressure ends up limiting the very outcome you’re hoping your BDC will accomplish: Moving prospects from the early fact-finding stage to an informed decision where you get them on the showroom floor.

Key Takeaways

While the need for an effective BDC had already grown in importance in recent years, new challenges brought on by rapid digitalization, inventory shortages and revitalized customer expectations are pushing some forward-thinking dealers to reconsider the dealership business development center’s role altogether.

To maximize the efficacy and efficiency of their BDC, dealers need to make sure they’re appointing the right team, arming them with the right information about prospects and managing them according to metrics that accurately measure their success. With this approach, dealership BDCs are empowered to truly build lasting relationships with customers – not just get them on a showroom’s calendar.