Over the years we have seen huge improvements in the effectiveness of sales department Business Development Centers (BDC’s). With this success, it seems that more and more dealerships are looking to copy this BDC success over to the service department.

There is huge potential for success with a well-functioning service BDC. The opportunity to reach new customers and increase the amount of RO’s is often beyond the capacity of most service departments to handle without some adaptation.

Here are some ideas to consider when looking for ways to improve your service department BDC.

Begin with the End in Mind

The success of your service BDC will depend greatly on your plan of attack. There is no way your service BDC and your service department can be all things to all people. The first step in building a successful service department BDC is to define your end goals and work backward.

If you hire enough BDC employees, you can place a lot of phone calls. But, should you chase every possible RO? This is where your strategic plan is very important. If your goal is to increase RO’s for profitable repair work, be careful that your BDC efforts don’t focus too heavily on oil changes and minor maintenance.

Beware of Work Overload

Success in your service BDC can create a disaster in the service department very quickly if goals are not clearly defined and executed. There is a fine balance between attracting more business and taking good care of these customers when they appear in your service drive.

You will need to be judicious about your BDC activities and the types of business you chase. You may need to turn away (or not schedule) some work in an effort to stay focused on your end game. Don’t make the mistake of getting so busy on the wrong work that your productivity and profitability suffer.

Ideally, you will never be forced to pull a productive line tech off of a profitable repair job in order to take overflow quick-service work. Plan ahead and stick to your plan.

Work overload can also apply to the BDC itself. Some dealerships may claim to have a service BDC, but are not willing to devote the manpower to doing it right. Your BDC personnel should have enough time each day to stay on top of CRM to-do’s as well as schedule appointments, make follow-up calls, and resolve concerns. If these things are not happening, you may need to hire more help.

In short, make sure you have enough manpower to 1) handle the daily CRM task load and 2) handle the increase in business coming into your service drive.

Hire the Right Personnel

Dealerships need to run lean to maximize profits. It is always preferred to solve inefficiencies with processes as opposed to more personnel. However, effective management of your service BDC will require specialized skills to do the job right.

Your BDC needs to be staffed by employees who understand the demands of the job. Some dealerships have seen success hiring workers with telemarketing backgrounds. Call center experience combined with basic knowledge of the vehicle repair process makes an ideal candidate.

BDC success may also require more technicians, especially C technicians to handle the inevitable increase in quick-service work. Pace yourself and monitor closely the correlation between BDC activity new work coming in. Hire new personnel accordingly.

With all of the potential of an effective service BDC, the question should not be if, but when you start to implement changes. With the right plan in place, you will sell more service and improve customer satisfaction from a department that will pay for itself many times over.

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