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Anticipate Common Problems For An In-House Or External Dealership BDC

Find a quality business development manager who will train and closely watch the BDC staff.

BY MIKE HAEG

In analyzing more than 300 dealerships’ phone processes, my company has learned that a dealership could up to $500,000 a year of business based of poor phone skills alone. A BDC will take a lot of that pressure off your sales team, but a dealership shouldn’t rely on it to fi x its problems automatically. Instead, a lot of work should be put into creating a well-running BDC.

BDCs often are plagued with problems such as a lack of training processes and low overall staff motivation, because their people are not on the same page. These problems, paired with low wages, make for a high turnover rate in BDC staffing. At that point, a BDC can end up costing a dealer more than it brings in.

As a manager, it’s important to get ahead of the potential problems and make sure the BDC staff is properly trained, for these reasons:

  • Employee retention
  • Your dealership’s bottom line
  • Customer satisfaction

Let’s take a look at some common issues that your internal or external BDC may face, and how to over- come them.

HIGH TURNOVER RATES

With the potential for constant churn in staffing, a business development manager should give BDC employees a true understanding of the value of their jobs. Providing motivation for growth and keeping everyone on the same page will promote better performance.

Additionally, the business development manager (BDM) should develop and manage earning incentives and morale-boosters for hitting big goals. Examples of incentives are small bonuses, leadership opportunities, possibilities for promotion, and staff recognition at weekly team meetings.

THE BDM’S ROLE

A BDM is a super important piece of the dealer- ship’s sales team, so make sure the person appointed to the job doesn’t have split priorities. Your BDM could very well be a standout employee who already works in your dealership. This person should keep every BDC employee on track and make sure everything runs smoothly, day in and day out. A BDM must:

  • Be detail-oriented and organized
  • Have an effective coaching style
  • Have proven success on the phone
  • Easily adapt to constant change
  • Be excited and eager every day

Daily tasks include encouraging career development, showing BDC employees their true worth at the dealership, and avoiding constant churn in staffing with hourly-wage employees. This is what separates a BDC from a call center.

POOR TRAINING PROCESSES

Oftentimes, a dealership’s training process doesn’t focus much on handling the phone. When you think about it, a phone conversation provides the customer’s first impression of your dealership. Typically, sales teams are trained to focus on making the sale once the customer is already hooked, so when it comes to enticing the customer to make an appointment, things may fall flat.

That’s why it’s important to instill an inbound and outbound phone-training program that includes a feedback loop to keep BDC staff motivated to continue improving. This loop should feature management giving advice that inspires change in employees while offering incentives for good work, thus motivating employees to work harder. This is where your BDM’s role and commitment are vital.

There are crucial parts to every phone conversation. Yes, a phone script can help your staff steer the conversation, but every conversation is qualitatively different. Here are some key points to remember:

  • 39 percent of callers aren’t even connecting to someone who can help them. So, the first rule of business should be to pick up the phone and connect with the caller! Sales calls to the BDC should not go to the receptionist to transfer first, but instead straight to the agents.
  • Ask the caller for his or her name, and a phone number in case the call gets disconnected.
  • Ask for the appointment, every time. Currently, four out of five customers who call into the BDC are never asked into the dealership.
  • Follow up with all of your leads, even off the phone. The average response time to an Internet lead is 9.6 minutes. Beat the odds!

ADDRESSING OUTBOUND CALLS

Outbound calling has the dreaded “cold call” stigma, which turns off many sales agents from pursuing outbound opportunities. It takes on average about eight calls to reach a customer, which is a lot of effort to put into an activity that an agent isn’t confidently handling.

Many BDCs regulate these follow-ups with a minimum number of calls to be made each day. The problem with creating standards for outbound calls such as “make 100 calls this week” is that the metric being tracked doesn’t actually produce the desired results. Staffs become focused on making calls rather than talking to customers, which can lead to pitfalls like praying for voicemail. On some occasions, we’ve discovered that many of those 100 calls were repeatedly to a family member! The useful metric to track here would be if an agent connected to an actual customer.

Use your call-tracking to keep on top of your BDC team’s calls, and determine if live conversations are actually happening. If your people aren’t speaking with a real prospect for business, that call shouldn’t count toward their total.

POOR ORGANIZATION/LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

Many general managers fall into the trap of believing their staff is doing well on the phone without actually knowing. While having that level of trust with your staff is great, it’s still important to make sure everything is running smoothly and correctly, in order to catch any unknown mistakes and fix any process issues. Trust your team but verify the results. A great reporting portal provided by your call- tracker will show you how your team is really performing. This portal should definitely include individual agent data, a clear overview of company metrics and consistent communication with users. The best part of a CRM is the possibility to integrate information from your call-tracking provider. In a concise, easy-to-read report, you should be able to:

  • Manage and comment on tasks like prospect profiles and keep track of phone tasks
  • Track individual staff phone performance and see how well they’re connecting
  • Read trends in team performance to adjust training
  • Take advantage of missed business opportunities

Managing a BDC does not have to induce anxiety and should prove to be a worthy investment for every dealership. Make sure your team is aware of their goals and knows the true value of their work.

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Mike Haeg
Mike Haeg
Mike’s company produces the Car Wars automotive call-tracking program. He loves fusing technology with people to help dealerships “own the phone.”

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