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Have BDC's Outgrown the Dealership?

Sep 10, 2014
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First Name
Derrick
One of the key takeaways from last year's DSES was the idea that there is already an "old school Internet Manager," which is a sobering statement. So can the same be said for the BDC's on the dealer level? Has the BDC evolved or out-grown the dealership's needs?

Is there still a future for the BDC? One thing we do know is that OEM's 10 years later have largely ignored offering BDC training or the promotion of adding BDC's to the dealer level. What's next?

Thoughts anyone?
 
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Visit Generations Digital

bhudson

Green Pea
Jan 15, 2020
7
14
First Name
Brian
Only if the BDC is educated and has access to vehicle data in real time. Nothing worse than a retail customer communicating with someone who has to say, "let me check to see if that car has a Tow Package, I'll get back to you." Someone has to watch the hen house while sales is closing deals, that's why I like good BDC's.
 
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Reactions: ChrisR
Jan 22, 2020
4
4
First Name
Paul
I joined a dealership after their failed BDC experience, so most of what I know about how different BDCs work (or don't work) is limited to conversations with dealership executive management and others at dealer conferences. There are probably some dealerships who are using a BDC successfully, but my gut tells me that most BDCs wouldn't survive a strict cost/benefit analysis.

As someone who has joined automotive marketing late in the game, I am convinced that the most valuable functions of a BDC will be performed, much more cost effectively, by AI-powered marketing technology and highly personalized targeted digital marketing.

Since the rise of the BDC there has already been major shifts in how people communicate. The cell phone is king and dealers that aren't trying to figure out ways to use customers/leads cellphones to provide the most personal, convenient and least irritating experience possible, they will always be playing catch-up.

Texting/Messaging is the way that more and more people are communicating. Fewer people are using emails for the quick convenient communication that is depersonalized just enough not to be threatening. When you don't need a human voice to drive a communication and text is the way it is primarily done, AI-powered technologies will (and in some cases already do) reign supreme. A computer can know much more about a customer in a fraction of a second than any human could ever think of knowing in lots of minutes. Every year AI is getting more human in it's ability to drive conversation and respond to questions-- but it isn't perfect, but neither is bank of hourly employees dialing phone numbers and trying to talk to customers.

Add on top of 1-to-1 communication, that AI can dynamically create re-targeted digital marketing campaigns that can nurture leads through micro funnels targeted for specific customers.

I say this with the caveat that I recognize dealers come in all shapes, sizes and volumes. A large dealer group may be able to get the value out of an efficient BDC than a single-roof dealer, in a competitive market, possibly could.

PS. Do you use, or have you heard of ringless voicemail technology? Just exploring the efficiency of not waiting to leave a message on a voicemail could probably do a big chunk of what your BDC does automatically (without occupying phone lines) and could allow the same resources to process incoming warm leads rather that doing all the cold-calling and message-leaving that occupies an unfortunate % of BDC bandwidth.

I'll be interested in others thoughts, because we revisit the BDC conversation over and over again, as we certainly recognize the value but can't seem to justify the overhead as a permanent fixture at the dealership.
 
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Reactions: Jeff Kershner
Dec 19, 2018
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Bill
BDC = "We as managers are really bad at training and holding our people accountable and since it's easier to train a couple of people properly and make them follow up and since 10% is considered a job well done we will create a whole new department to disguise how bad we are at our jobs. "

Lot traffic continues to die and with it the BDC will have to as well because everyone in the sales department will have to get good at internet leads and the phone or they won't have any customers to sell to.
 
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Reactions: Tarry Shebesta

ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
244
233
First Name
Christian
BDC = "We as managers are really bad at training and holding our people accountable and since it's easier to train a couple of people properly and make them follow up and since 10% is considered a job well done we will create a whole new department to disguise how bad we are at our jobs. "

Lot traffic continues to die and with it the BDC will have to as well because everyone in the sales department will have to get good at internet leads and the phone or they won't have any customers to sell to.
I understand where you are coming from, to a point. However, I also know that when you have an effective BDC that brings in business, not just through lead response, but through equity mining, it does more than cover up the fact that sales people can't/won't do their follow up.

Why do customers need to wait hours for a response, if they send an email just as a sales rep starts working a fresh up? Is that good customer service? Would having a dedicated team of people to monitor inbound communications, so there is no long wait for responses be considered a bad thing?
 
Jun 1, 2016
5
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First Name
Vincent
I want to start by saying there are no right or wrong answers to how to handle leads. As long as you are trying to take care of your customers by responding quickly, professionally and are looking to provide your customers with value.

OEM's are still very much interested in BDC process and training. At least that is what we are hearing. AI is not the answer. If AI is the answer, then what are we all doing on this site? Why bother reading about the new and latest. The robots can do it then we should all start looking for new jobs now. That's not happening anytime soon.

People want to work with people, especially on a purchase as big as a vehicle. Look at Digital retailing tools today. Less than 2% buy it now. AI?? Can't tell a person if the car was smoked in, it can't read the vehicle history, handle objections about trade, credit, etc. No two customers are the same they do not ask the same questions and thank God for that. The term BDC may have run its course. Most BDC do not develop business, they develop leads and they support sales by responding quickly, professionally and personally to the most important person for any business, THE CUSTOMER! Automation has a place and you could take some steps to help with AI.

My team and I have read thousands of customer replies, messages, calls and texts. Unless dealers switch to a fully transparent approach, like Tesla, AI is 10 years away.

Why would anyone want AI to replace people? Have you considered the impact this would have on the salesperson or sales professionals? Next robots will be teaching our kids, coaching sports teams, writing articles for publications, running media and advertising, running for President and so on. Why is it that everyone wants to fit everything nice an neatly into a category or box so everything can be perfect. If it were easy everyone would be successful. I'm actually happy lots struggle. Struggle creates opportunities.

BDC is a term a lot use. Process and results are what everyone's after. Results are what we all want, I hope. A good BDC/21st century salesperson/internet salesperson/salesperson/whatever you want to call it, listens, builds rapport, overcomes objections and closes based on that person's ability to help the customer. If you can't relate and provide value you can't sell anything period. I have a saying. There are two ways to sell. Provide value and give a great customer experience or pretend to provide value. Great salespeople are not good at pretending but bad salespeople are very good at it. There lies our problem.

There also needs to be a well defined process for the customer when they arrive at the dealership. Call it whatever you want. I call it strong process and lead handing with the goal of giving a solid customer experience and getting the dealership results. You can design a process for any situation at any dealership. BDC, internet salespeople, internet teams, salespeople, etc. And all those ways can work and can be cost effective.

As for costs to run a BDC, will leave you with this, if you don't pay someone, train someone and respect those people, someone else will do it and will take business from you. Or you could Outsource it (shameless plug)

There are lots of cost affective ways to handle leads and this can be done with human beings. Thank God we don't have robots doing it yet. I hope to be well into retirement before these crazy ideas come to fruition.
 
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Tarry Shebesta

Full Sticker
Mar 17, 2011
93
39
First Name
Tarry
This is a great and relevant topic for me right now as we try and figure out how to help our dealers close more of our credit qualified Shop-by-Payment leads like this: https://shopbypayment.com/super-lead/

The options are:

1) Train the current sales staff or BDC center
2) Outsource it

We are trying to understand the best model for the credit qualified leads we generate.

Here is a direct quote from one of our dealer customers:

"We still like the product. It’s an internal problem here, not your product. Unfortunately, our BDC reps don’t dig into the lead as they should and have done a horrible job converting. We’ve tried to get managers involved in the leads internally and they haven’t done a good job. We are trying to simplify for the reps for now and hopefully, we can add the product back."

This absolutely drives me crazy!

I would love to set up some conversations at NADA to get this figured out for our dealer customers.
 
Jan 22, 2020
4
4
First Name
Paul
AI is not the answer. If AI is the answer, then what are we all doing on this site? Why bother reading about the new and latest. The robots can do it then we should all start looking for new jobs now. That's not happening anytime soon.
I think you might misunderstand my perspective on AI. AI is a tool, like the telephone and the internet, with a usefulness that fills a certain space. Will AI replace humans? I think in every space that is repetitive, mundane and time consuming-- yes... or, at least, mostly. If you have a BDC that is well trained enough to warm leads, answer questions about smoke in cars, and handle objections about trade and credit, you have a BDC full of knowledgeable and skillful salespeople. Maybe our dealership is incredibly ill-advanced, because outside of a handful of a high-performers, most of our actual sales people couldn't perform all of those tasks on demand for the majority of the 150 used vehicles on the used portion of our lot.

If you can get trained quality people to work a BDC, meet or exceed key KPIs, and do it for a cost that returns a clear and provable ROI, keep on doing it. I'd love to hear more details from dealers that are using BDCs well, because everyone that I have spoken to about it seems underwhelmed by the value they provide-- something I recognize about the difficulty of putting together and managing an BDC in the most effective way for each dealership or dealer group. I have yet to talk to anyone that has a BDC that works the way that I suspect one should.

Nearly everyone that I have talked to about BDCs seem to fall into one of two versions: a bank of phone jockeys that can do little more that follow a script and say, "I'll have to have my Internet Manager get back to you on that." or a hybrid BDC that basically takes the tasks of a BDC and distributes it to salespeople, which from what I gather, isn't very efficient and is very difficult to manage, especially when things are busy and salespeople have real people in front of their faces-- that's the reality that causes us to constantly discuss new options that don't require hiring, training and managing a new workforce or hiring a virtual BDC which can be little more that door warmers and information gatherers-- something that AI is largely capable of doing, even at this point in its evolution.

I spoke to a GM recently who told me the biggest bang they have ever gotten was choosing a product called Conversica which uses AI to help warm doors and get leads engaged, something that exhausts the average salesperson who only targets the lowest hanging fruit and is one of the biggest time-sucks of the sales BDC. That GM dumped their sales BDC and threw all that budget at technology that does all of the irritating and repetitive tasks that no one likes to do and uses the sales people to do all the difficult appointment closing and selling.

I don't think that doing something like that has to require the complete elimination of BDCs, I think as a resource, a BDC can serve an important business purpose. However, I think that the more tools and technology can remove the time consuming and repetitive tasks from the BDC team, the more they can hone the specific skills of getting the appointment and focusing purely on doing that with leads and customers that have been cultivated by AI-powered technology.

All that to say, I don't think AI can be a 1:1 replacement for the functions of the BDC, but I think technologies powered by AI will likely change how the BDC spends it's time and focuses on it's skills-development, making it more efficient.
 

Brittany

Full Sticker
Jun 25, 2019
60
52
First Name
Brittany
AI is not the answer. If AI is the answer, then what are we all doing on this site?
All that to say, I don't think AI can be a 1:1 replacement for the functions of the BDC, but I think technologies powered by AI will likely change how the BDC spends it's time and focuses on it's skills-development, making it more efficient.
Cue the rise of centaur teams

EDIT: Centaur teams = combination of technology/AI alongside real people. AI can be useful in situations, but you also have to have that human touch.
 

Marc Lavoie

3rd Base Coach
Jan 3, 2019
189
132
First Name
Marc
I'm not sure if BDCs have outgrown dealerships, but one thing's for sure, a BDC can make or break a dealership Sales & Service.

For me, this department is the heart of most operations.

It can have a huge positive impact on so many components of your store.
 
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