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How to Maximize the Dealership BDC in 2022

As uncertainty regarding new vehicle inventory, evolving consumer demands and changing buying models challenge the automotive industry, some progressive dealers are discovering new, exciting opportunities by transforming their BDCs.  

No longer are BDCs simply a dealership’s notetakers, sitting in the back room cold calling customers with the same script. The modern business development center is a conduit to the dealership’s showroom floor, as well as your dealership’s director of first impressions with customers.

While the BDC has long been an important part of the dealership’s sales process, amid ongoing inventory shortages, dealers are discovering new ways to leverage the BDC to support other key operations and processes.

In this blog post, we’ll share how dealers can maximize their BDC operations in 2022, including:

·   Supporting pre-owned acquisition strategies

·   Supporting the service department

·   Supporting ongoing customer retention efforts

How the BDC Supports Pre-Owned Acquisitions

As dealers are searching for vehicles to fill their lots and auction prices continue to rise, many dealers are looking to their BDC to help acquire in-demand pre-owned vehicles through customer buybacks and trades. Since these customers are typically not yet in-market – and competition for their vehicle is at an all-time high – a well-connected BDC can fuel a dealership’s used vehicle acquisition strategy by empowering dealers to engage prospects before they return to market.

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When equipped with the right tools and insights, a dealership’s BDC can streamline its pre-owned acquisition efforts by identifying, prioritizing and engaging leads with the most profitable trade-ins. In order for your BDC to prioritize their efforts, ensure they are in-the-know regarding which makes and models are most in-demand.

Data Driven Insights 

From here, it’s important for your BDC to analyze data from your dealership’s DMS, CRM, sales platform and other datasets to identify which customers driving in-demand makes or models represent the best pre-owned acquisition opportunities. This includes customers who are over their lease mileage or warranty, have declined repairs, or those with equity in their vehicle.

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To engage prospects before the competition, it’s important your BDC can identify the behaviors that precede a customer returning to market. To do this, dealership marketing tools powered by predictive analytics are key. It allows your BDC to utilize all your dealership’s available data, as well as high-quality, third-party insights to automatically identify the best prospective trade or buy-back customers in your market.  

Connecting Service and Sales Through the BDC

As the service drive grows more and more valuable in 2022, many dealers are looking to their BDC to support their service marketing and service-to-sales efforts. But your BDC’s strategy for getting customers into the service department needs to be different from their approach for setting up sales appointments, of course.

Outreach to Potential Customers

Just like when assessing which customers represent the best prospective trade or buyback opportunities, it’s important your BDC take a data-driven approach to identifying and engaging prospective service customers. This means understanding where in their vehicle ownership journey a customer is in order to identify when they will likely be the most interested in service.

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Identifying Sales Opportunities

The BDC can also serve an important role in breaking down the barrier between service and sales and fueling an efficient service-to-sales process. As many dealers are looking to “do more with less,” some have tasked their BDC to serve as service-to-sales liaisons. The department mines their dealership’s upcoming service appointments for sales prospects, such as those out of warranty or over their lease mileage to present tailored offers. 

In this role, it’s important your service BDC engages prospective service-to-sales leads before they arrive for their appointment with a personalized offer. 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.

Using the BDC to Promote Customer Retention

The rise of online-only retailers and tight dealership inventories is pushing more and more buyers to shop around. According to a mid-year report from IHS Markit, brand loyalty among U.S. consumers for new vehicles dropped to a six-year low in June 2021 following steady declines in April and May. At the same time, body style loyalty remained strong – increasing by 1.1% year-over-year in June – meaning customers are more willing to brand hop to purchase the vehicle body style of their choice.

Engaging With Your Customers

To proactively prevent defection and protect their customer base, dealers need to consistently engage their loyalty audience – a job perfectly suited for the BDC. Using the previously mentioned dealership marketing tools, equip your BDC take a similar, data-driven approach to engaging loyalty audiences, regularly reminding customers with personalized messaging why they trusted your dealership with their business in the first place.

By staying in consistent communication with loyalty audiences, your BDC can help ensure your dealership is top-of-mind when your customers return to market. Every communication and customer touchpoint should build on the last in a useful manner, meeting your customers where they are in their ownership journey and keeping them engaged through the years.

Supporting Customer Experience with Predictive Analytics

Dealership tools powered by predictive analytics play an important role in this process, as well, empowering your BDC to follow each customer’s journey and engage customers before they start shopping around. With the service drive playing a key role in customer loyalty, many dealers have optimized their operations even further. Dealers use conveniently timed service notifications to support both their service and loyalty efforts with a personalized approach.

Taking a similar approach with Mastermind, dealer partner Lexus of San Diego increased their year-over-year loyalty rate by 4% – 3.5% higher than the brand’s regional average.

While the dealership BDC had already grown in importance in recent years, new challenges brought on by rapid digitalization and inventory shortages are pushing some forward-thinking dealers to rethink the dealership business development center’s role.

Serving as a main point of customer contact, a well-connected BDC can provide value far past the sales department, supporting your service department, F&I efforts, vehicle acquisitions and beyond with a data-driven approach.