As vehicle inventory shortages continue to evolve, so do consumer demands and buyer loyalty trends. These disruptions in the auto industry are affording proactive dealers new opportunities to discover exciting ways to solve challenging problems inside their Business Development Centers.
What Does a BDC Do?
While a dealership’s Business Development Center (BDC) has served an important role in the sales process, dealers are continuously finding new ways to leverage the BDC to support other key dealership operations, such as:
- Supporting pre-owned vehicle acquisitions
- Customer retention efforts
For dealerships to build the best BDC, their team needs the right support to their approach, including:
In this blog post, we’ll explore why the dealership BDC is so important and share ways for dealers to improve BDC departments, including:
- Effectively and efficiently improving your BDC
- Structuring your BDC to support dealership-wide success
- Maximizing your BDC efforts to support service, acquisition and retention efforts
Tailoring Your BDC to be Effective and Efficient
In previous years, working in an automotive BDC meant making as many outbound calls as possible, focusing on the quantity of leads over the quality. Now, as customer loyalty is diminishing amid inventory shortages, many dealers are looking to their BDC to play other strategic roles such as supporting service-to-sales and retention efforts.
With the BDC capable of supporting numerous dealership departments and operations, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building an effective and efficient BDC. Successful dealers tailor their strategy to their unique needs, utilizing their BDC experience to bridge the gap between departments and patch any holes in their automotive dealership’s sales process.
To define your strategy, start by assessing your current BDC to identify areas of opportunity. Ask questions like:
- Where does your BDC gain knowledge on new products and vehicles?
- How can the hand-off between the BDC and sales be more streamlined?
- What size team do you need to build a robust customer experience?
- Is your BDC regularly assessing any gaps in your sales process?
Based on their answers to questions like these, dealers can maximize the efficiency of their BDC by implementing the proper equipment to ensure success for their team, including:
How to Staff Your BDC
Auditing your current process is another important step that empowers dealers to identify and fill any gaps in their BDC’s sales strategy. While BDC staffing models vary by dealership, in the most common model, the primary goal of the BDC is to deliver qualified prospects to the sales team for closing, rather than to close the sale themselves.
As, potentially, the first interaction between a prospective customer and a member of a dealership’s staff, a BDC representative can play a massive role in setting the tone for a customer’s buying experience. Starting at that first touchpoint, BDC managers need to ensure they’re providing their team with access to as much information and insight as possible about their prospects to support helpful, data-driven conversations with customers.
How to Manage Your BDC
A properly managed BDC starts from the top down. When selecting BDC managers, dealership leaders need to identify team members who can balance and prioritize both sales goals and 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.
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.
How to Structure Your BDC
Similar to strategy, a BDC’s structure should be driven by a dealership’s needs. Regardless of whether a dealership manages the approach with their BDC or leads are handed off to the sales department, the right BDC structure can support sales, service, customer retention and beyond.
To operate efficiently and effectively, the BDC needs to be 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.
DOWNLOAD THIS WHITEPAPER: 3 C’s of Building a Better BDC
Maximizing BDC Efforts to Support Service, Acquisition and Retention
Service departments are a valuable area to position and apply the efforts of the BDC. In addition to generating ongoing service revenue, the dealership service department supports sales, pre-owned acquisitions, and customer retention.
Consider tasking your BDC to mine your dealership’s upcoming service appointments for sales prospects, such as those out of warranty or over their lease mileage to present tailored offers. This is also a prime time for your BDC to identify which service appointments represent the best prospective trade or buy-back opportunities. This includes customers driving in-demand makes or models, as well as those approaching the end of their lease or finance term.
To further maximize success, it’s important that the BDC be managed against success metrics beyond solely sales-related figures or appointments scheduled. In addition, it’s important to measure and monitor relationship-building concepts and KPIs including:
- If the prospect continues to interact with the dealership, even if not for a sales appointment
- If they can successfully answer a customer’s question in a way that leads to continued shopping
Understanding the Customer’s Journey with Data
For the dealership BDC, success hinges on their understanding of where a customer is in their dealership buying journey and how well they can tailor their customer communications accordingly.
Knowing which customers present the greatest service-to-sales or pre-owned acquisition opportunities, your BDC can in turn serve as a service-to-sales liaison. This would put your BDC in charge of breaking down the barrier between service and sales and fueling an efficient service-to-sales process in both directions.
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.
Engaging and Retaining Loyalty Customers
In order to proactively prevent defection and protect their customer base, dealers need to consistently engage their loyalty audience. 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.
Remember, every communication touchpoint should build on the last. This meets your customers where they are in their ownership journey, and keeps them engaged through the years. Ensure your BDC is contacting prospects with a prepared upgrade offer in-hand, accounting for the customer’s trade-in value and any OEM incentives, as well as building off any previous communications or touchpoints.
While the dealership BDC has historically supported a dealership sales department, ongoing inventory shortages and diminishing customer loyalty has led proactive dealers to leverage the department in new ways.
Serving as a natural conduit between a dealer’s online and in-person buying experiences, the dealership BDC is critically important to:
- Pre-owned acquisition efforts
In order for dealers to reimagine their BDCs, they need the right tools, teams and processes to maximize their success.
Interested in learning how automotiveMastermind can help your BDC team effectively communicate with prospects? Contact us for a free demo.