Inbound phone calls are still your best low-funnel leads, so they must be handled properly. Many dealers believe their sales team should be able to handle all those incoming calls, but the fact is up to 16% of calls are never answered. And for many shoppers, having a call go to voicemail means moving on to the next dealership. When phones aren’t getting picked up, it’s time to consider outsourcing to an external BDC.

Market conditions today make an external BDC even more relevant. Labor shortages have employees spread thin. When faced between a belly-to-belly customer and one on the phone, the caller always comes second. Outbound call campaigns are often pushed off altogether. 

external BDCAn external BDC can also handle service calls and campaigns – especially important now when the majority of shops are jam-packed yet customers keep calling. Proactive campaigns where agents reach out and schedule customers due for service in a few weeks, instead of waiting for customers to call and disappointing them with long wait times, is the kind of customer service that will keep customers coming back to your shop. 

The continuing labor shortage is also why I recommend dealers steer away from building an internal BDC – at least for now. The time and resources it takes to hire, train, manage, and compensate internal BDC agents is a hassle and cost most dealers can’t shoulder at this time. 

Related: Strategies your car dealership can use to reach new benchmarks this year

Of course, there are pros and cons to an external BDC. The following points can help you decide what’s best for your dealership. 

Pros of outsourcing to an external BDC:

  1. Auto professionals. An automotive-focused BDC ensures that all agents are properly trained to respond to calls and emails and are familiar with the industry. They have the skills to handle any type of call and respond in a way that fits your specifications and brand. They are an extension of your team and work within your parameters. 
  2. Full outbound campaign management. An external BDC can run entire sales and service campaigns, from data mining and compiling call lists to complete campaign reporting. Capabilities encompass all channels (calls, emails, direct mail, text) to reach every customer with the right message through the right avenue. 
  3. Full inbound campaign management. Customers are relying more on third-party inventory sites and digital retailing tools to narrow down vehicle choice before they contact your dealership. These highly qualified leads need prompt and personal replies. An external BDC is available 24/7 to answer questions and will consistently follow up for at least a 90-day period. Once the lead is flipped to sales, all the details of what the customer has already done online, as well as the agent’s notes, lead to a more personal and efficient in-store experience. 
  4. Consultant-based approach. More dealerships are moving away from the “hard sell” of immediately asking for an appointment and toward a consultative approach that doesn’t flood the floor. External BDC agents can reinforce this approach by acting as consultants who answer every customer question before scheduling an appointment. This high-quality traffic results in better show and close rates.  
  5. Relative low cost. A virtual BDC is scalable, so you can go big, remain at a smaller level, or discontinue altogether, depending on what is going on at your dealership. You control the cost depending on how much help you need or want at any given time. Keep costs low or go all in. It’s up to you.  

Cons of outsourcing to an external BDC:

  1. Control. You will have to give up some control over day-to-day operations. An external BDC works to your specifications and detailed process instructions, but there’s always the risk of occasional misunderstandings if leads fall through the cracks. 
  2. Culture. You have a dealership culture and story that BDC agents may not know so there’s a risk they might not handle every situation the way you’d prefer. 
  3. Integration. External BDCs have sophisticated call monitoring technology, but it may not integrate with your DMS and CRM. In that case, you have to rely on the statistics the BDC provides so ROI may be more difficult to measure. 

Labor shortages don’t have to mean calls go unanswered or outbound campaigns languish. An automotive-focused external BDC answers every call and nurtures every lead – promptly, professionally, and cost-effectively. 

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