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If you had to do it all over again, BDC or no BDC? And unicorns...

Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
307
292
Awards
1
First Name
Dan
Bear with me. There are instances in my life that I wish I could turn the clock back on. For instance, while working in the express lane at a grocery store when I was 17, I picked up a small product after scanning it to notice a coupon affixed to the box. I proceeded to use the phrase, while holding the box, coupon side up, to the young woman's face, "Miss, are you going to use this?". She, with a reddening face and mortified expression, just stared at me. The customers in line behind her were eyeing me as well. Turns out I had failed to notice it was a box of feminine hygiene products. With no words spoken and my eyes now pointing straight down, I peeled off the coupon, completed the transaction and didn't make eye contact with another human for the next 30 minutes. From that event I had a very clear idea of what I would have done differently if given the chance.

The clarity of a do-over isn't so clear if I look back at my internet career in auto. I started out selling over the internet in 2001. I was a cradle-to-grave guy and loved just having a name and email address and turning that into a sale. A few years later when conversations about "BDC" in auto came up I was always a little irritated that a dealer would complicate the hand-off, add expense, and allow sales people to not improve their written and phone skills. I, at the time, figured everyone would grow out of the BDC model because sales people would have to cycle through to a younger, more capable, sales professional. Right? Maybe? Nope. My fault in that idea wasn't a talent issue of sales people but rather a personality issue.

I was a unicorn. I'm sure many of you are unicorns as well. No, not the fancy rainbow kind but the mythical sales person kind that can write an email, make a phone call after phone call after phone call, write a thank you note, record a video, quick detail a car for delivery, get a drive-by to stop on the lot and come in the store, etc. The issue is those are so hard to find, and they're difficult to create, and they're difficult to keep in auto. Of your sales team, what percentage are "unicorns"? I would say we're probably in the 25% range at the moment. Issue is we are up 25% in internet leads and up 12% in (logged) phone ups in the last year. We did increase our internet sales by 33% and our phone sold by 21% but we still missed 1,400 sales because of performance. Do that gross math.

My question to this community is should I consider building a centralized BDC, staff with people that have great customer experience skills, written skills, phone skills, etc and leave the sales team, who are wired to take great care of our guests (we're one-touch), to maximize the guest experience while in our stores? I'm thinking I'm not going to find more unicorns and we probably will see more growth in the internet and phone channels this year. What would you do? What have you learned from hiring for a BDC? How are you structured?

P.S. If you're a vendor please don't chime in with magic software or 3rd party BDC services but offer your insight learned from dealers you work with and what they do/their structure looks like. Thanks.
 

Baron Ringler

Full Sticker
Jul 6, 2010
77
43
First Name
Baron
Bear with me. There are instances in my life that I wish I could turn the clock back on. For instance, while working in the express lane at a grocery store when I was 17, I picked up a small product after scanning it to notice a coupon affixed to the box. I proceeded to use the phrase, while holding the box, coupon side up, to the young woman's face, "Miss, are you going to use this?". She, with a reddening face and mortified expression, just stared at me. The customers in line behind her were eyeing me as well. Turns out I had failed to notice it was a box of feminine hygiene products. With no words spoken and my eyes now pointing straight down, I peeled off the coupon, completed the transaction and didn't make eye contact with another human for the next 30 minutes. From that event I had a very clear idea of what I would have done differently if given the chance.

The clarity of a do-over isn't so clear if I look back at my internet career in auto. I started out selling over the internet in 2001. I was a cradle-to-grave guy and loved just having a name and email address and turning that into a sale. A few years later when conversations about "BDC" in auto came up I was always a little irritated that a dealer would complicate the hand-off, add expense, and allow sales people to not improve their written and phone skills. I, at the time, figured everyone would grow out of the BDC model because sales people would have to cycle through to a younger, more capable, sales professional. Right? Maybe? Nope. My fault in that idea wasn't a talent issue of sales people but rather a personality issue.

I was a unicorn. I'm sure many of you are unicorns as well. No, not the fancy rainbow kind but the mythical sales person kind that can write an email, make a phone call after phone call after phone call, write a thank you note, record a video, quick detail a car for delivery, get a drive-by to stop on the lot and come in the store, etc. The issue is those are so hard to find, and they're difficult to create, and they're difficult to keep in auto. Of your sales team, what percentage are "unicorns"? I would say we're probably in the 25% range at the moment. Issue is we are up 25% in internet leads and up 12% in (logged) phone ups in the last year. We did increase our internet sales by 33% and our phone sold by 21% but we still missed 1,400 sales because of performance. Do that gross math.

My question to this community is should I consider building a centralized BDC, staff with people that have great customer experience skills, written skills, phone skills, etc and leave the sales team, who are wired to take great care of our guests (we're one-touch), to maximize the guest experience while in our stores? I'm thinking I'm not going to find more unicorns and we probably will see more growth in the internet and phone channels this year. What would you do? What have you learned from hiring for a BDC? How are you structured?

P.S. If you're a vendor please don't chime in with magic software or 3rd party BDC services but offer your insight learned from dealers you work with and what they do/their structure looks like. Thanks.
The reason BDC's exist in the first place is that the floor lost the ability to work calls correctly, handle incoming correspondence, and were generally allowed to run while by weak sales managers. If you skip the BDC, you need to be ready to hold to your guns that you won't hire salespeople from other stores, who can bring a certain lazy attitude with them when it regards phone work, e-lead work, prospecting, follow-up, etc. You may be able to train and put together a great team that doesn't use a BDC, but the last thing you want to do is introduce negativity to the mix, because just because YOU might train right and set the proper expectations, we already know that all but a very small percentage will not. How do I know this? Because if that weren't the case, BDC's would never have come in to existence in the first place.

So again, you have to gauge your commitment, because if you don't take it all the way, getting caught in the middle can be disastrous; unwilling and unable salespeople without a functioning BDC behind them.

I get amazed at the numbers of stores that have told me over the years that they save so much money without a BDC, only for me to show them the deals they've lost just by percentages. It's the same reaction every time, like someone fed them a turd-covered lemon, because no one wants to admit (or have shown to them) that they screwed up.
 

Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
307
292
Awards
1
First Name
Dan
The reason BDC's exist in the first place is that the floor lost the ability to work calls correctly, handle incoming correspondence, and were generally allowed to run while by weak sales managers. If you skip the BDC, you need to be ready to hold to your guns that you won't hire salespeople from other stores, who can bring a certain lazy attitude with them when it regards phone work, e-lead work, prospecting, follow-up, etc. You may be able to train and put together a great team that doesn't use a BDC, but the last thing you want to do is introduce negativity to the mix, because just because YOU might train right and set the proper expectations, we already know that all but a very small percentage will not. How do I know this? Because if that weren't the case, BDC's would never have come in to existence in the first place.

So again, you have to gauge your commitment, because if you don't take it all the way, getting caught in the middle can be disastrous; unwilling and unable salespeople without a functioning BDC behind them.

I get amazed at the numbers of stores that have told me over the years that they save so much money without a BDC, only for me to show them the deals they've lost just by percentages. It's the same reaction every time, like someone fed them a turd-covered lemon, because no one wants to admit (or have shown to them) that they screwed up.
I understand why they came into existence, I do. The middle ground is having an "internet department" of cradle-to-grave sales people, which we have done. The result was a "Floor vs Internet" rift which wasn't great for the team. Those "internet department" sales people were really just different in their strengths and the other issue, besides the battle with "floor" sales, was the more the internet department sold, the less time they had to pursue leads so it was a exercise in an extremely inefficient structure. What are your thoughts on mini store-based BDCs vs one big central BDC?
 

CallingCorbyn

Lot Lizard
Jul 30, 2020
17
19
First Name
Corbyn
(Vendor here!) I'm a BDC gal through and through. If every salesperson were a "unicorn," I'd be out of a job. The main reason the BDC-to-sales model works so well is simply time. If your dealership is receiving 70 or more leads per salesperson, it's nearly impossible for your reps to serve your customers well and sell cars, and that's not even counting walk-ins.

When searching for a BDC agent, you should look for intelligence, charisma, ambition, and adaptability. You want someone who makes conversation easily, no sales background necessary. Leave that to the sales reps. Your best salesperson probably wouldn't be your best BDC agent, and vice versa.

While it's entirely possible to do everything remotely, we've found that if there is one BDC agent on-site, it helps bridge the gap between the two teams and offers customers a smooth transition.

Hope this helps! Feel free to reach out with any questions, the BDC can be a difficult beast to tackle alone.
 
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joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
4,073
1,579
First Name
Joe
Consider that CVNA nor VRM could sell a car without a call center. If you have DR, it needs a call center and sales tools* to sell cars.

*Money Back promise, remote appraisals, valet svcs, etc.
 

Dan Sayer

Boss
Dec 4, 2009
307
292
Awards
1
First Name
Dan
Consider that CVNA nor VRM could sell a car without a call center. If you have DR, it needs a call center and sales tools* to sell cars.

*Money Back promise, remote appraisals, valet svcs, etc.
Not sure I follow you, @joe.pistell Carvana and Vroom are basically 100% "BDC", right? Did you mean "couldn't sell a car without a call center"?
 
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Baron Ringler

Full Sticker
Jul 6, 2010
77
43
First Name
Baron
I understand why they came into existence, I do. The middle ground is having an "internet department" of cradle-to-grave sales people, which we have done. The result was a "Floor vs Internet" rift which wasn't great for the team. Those "internet department" sales people were really just different in their strengths and the other issue, besides the battle with "floor" sales, was the more the internet department sold, the less time they had to pursue leads so it was a exercise in an extremely inefficient structure. What are your thoughts on mini store-based BDCs vs one big central BDC?
When there is a rift between the floor and BDC it's because they are being given different messages and are not being put on the same page. There is lack of productive communication, without set rules and guidelines. Once you have those, when someone oversteps them, you act appropriately depending on the severity.

I can make the case for either large and centralized or independent to a location.

Centralized - First, even when centralized, no Reps should be trying to work every lead leads of manufacturer. You still need delineation, with only occasional fill-ins to take another brand. From there, you have to have a high-level player, not just an Internet Manager (most of who are only glorified Reps), but a true Director. The advantages to the large centralized is having oversight from a top player who has a little more on the ball when coaching and teaching, having a consistent message across your brands, better cross-training possibilities that help to avoid downturns if you have a Rep leave, and just more consistency with training, etc.

A disadvantage to Centralized, and it's a biggie, is if you don't have one now, and you are a larger group, there aren't many people who have the gumption or ability to put it together and get it running in a decent amount of time (I've done it a few times: never easy).

The advantages of independent on-the-spot places is that a Rep has quicker access to a manager, if needed, and be a little quicker to the customer with needed information. You can also be more customizable for the customer. There is also more of a team mentality, being a direct and visible part of that store, because relationships can be very important.

Disadvantages include, and I mentioned this earlier, that if someone quits you could end up short-handed and scrambling to get leads answered, plus sometimes the interaction between Reps and Sales can get less than professional (not dating or the like, but pay-for-play cash for a lead situations). Also, any BDC Manager you have in place, mopst of them aren't Managers. They may be great team leaders, but the title is just that; a title. Not reality.

I know which I prefer, although I can work either angle, but it really depends on the abilities of the people you currently have to work your Processes, Style, Messaging, etc.
 

ddavis

Boss
Jun 28, 2011
1,495
496
First Name
Doug
First, Hey Joe, you might remember me from years past.
Some topics will bring me out of retirement and this is one of them.
You need a BDC if you salespeople aren't properly trained, unmotivated and poorly supervised. I walk into stores and think their salespeople should be ticked for loitering. You look at the stats on emails and it is rare to find a store where emails are answered in a timely fashion or at all. Sales calls are rarely monitored and appointments aren't confirmed.
I do business with the largest CDJR dealer in north Texas. They did away with their BDC about four years ago and have done nothing but grow since. Not only have their sales increased so has their gross. I remember when they had the BDC. They would offer fifty dollar gift cards for anyone coming in for a test drive and a spiff for whoever set the appointment. They would get on the phone and bring back every bad credit person that could use fifty dollars.
If you have quality salespeople, they know the product and how to talk to people then why do you need to replace them with clerks?
 
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