In-house vs external BDC: How and why to make a switch

For a dealership, follow-up with customers is absolutely crucial. Some customers will choose which dealership to shop at based on interactions with salespeople over the phone, through text, or email, and might even pick based on who responds faster or more professionally. This is where either well-equipped salespeople or business development centers come in. We’ll explain when and how to switch to a business development center (BDC), and when to just have your salespeople do the work.

What is a Business Development Center?

A business development center is a term used for the people who are often following up on prospects from the sales floor, the internet, and also prospect the service department for appointments.

Typically, BDC workers are good on the phone and with a computer. They scour through activities in your customer relationship manager software and have a pleasant, and possibly assertive personality to get people in, AND make them happy!

So how do I pick between in-house, outsourced, and letting my people do it?

I’ve worked with all three, so I’ll offer a glimpse of what I know:

Do your salespeople regularly stay on top of follow-ups and document them? Are they closing more than a few percent of new internet leads that aren’t previous customers? Do they respond to new leads within a few minutes, especially if they aren’t busy with a customer?

In this case, we suggest either hiring an in-house BDC or outsourcing one. And there are a few key differences, some of which are more business-related than anything else.

In-house BDC

An in-house BDC can be fairly flexible. If you can find a person who previously sold or did customer service over the phone, you’ll be in good shape. You’ll also have to keep in mind that you’ll likely want to train an in-house BDC person on best practices, which to be honest, can be a challenge if you don’t know what those best practices are. Another business decision to make here, you might not have the best luck locally. Keep in mind that if you do offer health insurance and other benefits, you’ll be paying a bit more, just like any other employee.

Outsourced BDC

Consider this: You won’t have to train an outsourced BDC on much of anything minus a few specifics about what you want to say and what you don’t want to say. An outsourced BDC might have a monthly rate plus a cost per lead. The good news here is that most outsourced BDCs will follow whatever list of activities you want them to do. 

To me, an outsourced BDC is great for dealerships that want to get started as soon as possible without having to deal with an actual hiring process. The downside is that they can be fairly expensive.

What improvements does a BDC offer?

Regardless of which method you choose, having people dedicated to following up with your customers will almost certainly lead to an increase in sales, especially if you feel like you were significantly lacking in Internet deals being closed before.

With either method of hiring an in-house BDC or outsourcing it, you’ll probably start to see a more serious return on investment within the first couple of months, depending on how much training you have to do.

How would I switch?

Once you scope out the right service, you should do a couple of things:

Inform your salespeople

If your salespeople won’t be doing their own follow-up anymore, let them know! Some might like it, some might not. Also, detail whether or not the BDC will have any impact on what they are paid for selling a car. In our honest opinion, the salesperson shouldn’t have to split any part of a deal with the BDC.

Set up your CRM properly

This is actually even more important if you are starting an in-house BDC. You need to have a place where either your phone people or phone workers from the outside are going to see how often they should contact people and record or document it. We suggest contacting your CRM provider to set this up.

Make a system

This concept is wide open. If you dig deep enough into your CRM and previous leads, you are going to start having to decide how to distribute appointments for people who aren’t there anymore. I’ve seen this set up in multiple ways, ranging from keeping close track of monthly close ratios and deciding who gets what from there to being more equal and following a round-robin system.


Managing your existing BDC can be a tall order, but it is worth exploring to find out if you can improve sales and service. by getting more outreach. If you are thinking about changing your existing system, evaluate your hiring practices and keep good track of how things are performing to see which investments are worth making.

Stay up to date on exclusive content from CBT News by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our free newsletter to receive all the latest news, insight and trends impacting the automotive industry.

CBT News is part of the JBF Business Media family.

Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart
Ben is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News with 10 years of dealership experience in automotive marketing. Ben loves all things cars and putting together strategies that help dealerships succeed.

Related Articles


Manufacturers In This Article

More Manufacturer News

Latest Articles

From our Publishing Partners