The Director of Internet Sales at Germain Motor Company, Shaun Kniffin, knew that in order to increase business, conduct targeted customer campaigns, and improve visibility, they needed to make a change – perhaps even to their corporate strategy and structure. This would include the evolution of call management into a fully-matured Business Development Center (BDC) for the eight store group. To do this, he needed to find a way to track and manage numerous benchmarks using telephony, CRM, ILM, and marketing – all while having one, centralized tool to manage day-to-day operations. Reason being, “Five years ago Germain had as many as four CRM tools”, states Kniffin. “The Internet process was fractured because the CRM and ILM tools were not on a common platform.”
Furthermore, all of their customer data was scattered, or worse, duplicated across multiple databases. This caused a breakdown in store-to-store communication as well as a total lack of visibility. Kniffin further remarks, “Without a centralization of data and process management, we weren’t able to track and compare ourselves to industry benchmarks.” Organizational processes were broken, work was being duplicated, time was being wasted, and employee frustration was growing. Things needed to change.
Kniffin began with a fresh look at how business was being done at Germain. The salespeople, in addition to their responsibilities in the showroom, were responsible for all inbound and outbound calls at each of their respective stores. The service department was no different. “At one point our advisors were taking thousands of calls, keeping them from their other daily responsibilities,” states Kniffin. With this decentralized strategy, little control existed over the quantity and quality of calls made on behalf of Germain Motor Company as a whole. “Some people are great in the showroom and service drive, in front of customers,” explains Kniffin, “but it takes an altogether different skill set to excel on the phone. It just made sense that we move to a centralized BDC to better control the message we were giving our customers.”
Kniffin went to work hiring the right talent for the new BDC, which was set up at across from Germain’s corporate offices. He hired five representatives to focus solely on sales-related calls and five more to focus on service-related calls. To best equip the BDC reps in each area of expertise, Germain began investing in long-term employee education. Kniffin points out, “BDC representatives go through rigorous, ongoing phone training to better hone their effectiveness, providing consistent results.”
Centralizing the entire BDC operation would improve the quality of messaging, minimize confusion, and maximize control. “The BDC is a complement to our sales force,” reports Kniffin, “by creating balance and a competitive advantage in our sales and service departments.” By centralizing the location, management is now done from a corporate level, instead of store-to-store. This has given Corporate a better establishment of truly manageable benchmarks.
Now that the BDC was centralized, the need for centralizing data was more apparent than ever before. Kniffin found the answer in a fully-integrated CRM, BDC, and ILM solution that unified all sales and marketing efforts for all stores. It would provide the capabilities to organize and track all activity in a single database, delivering total visibility to the new BDC and to every department across each rooftop. Aided by simple but effective reporting, management could now ensure processes would be followed with every lead, every prospect, and every customer. It would provide insight to all customer communication, behavior, and satisfaction. “Bringing all this together with a BDC allowed us to use the true advantages of CRM by allowing all associates to see and use the same information,” says Kniffin.
Germain saw the benefits almost immediately. Due to the unified strategy of CRM, BDC, and ILM, the BDC rep and the salesperson could view customer data simultaneously – bringing significant improvement to process, communication, and overall productivity. When a showroom or service appointment is scheduled by a BDC rep, Germain salespeople already know the vehicle(s) of interest, trade-in possibilities, identifiable purchasing habits, and a full profile on all service history. Kniffin couldn’t be happier with the ongoing, even recent, results. His 10 BDC reps have scheduled over 2,500 service and sales appointments in the month of June alone. Together, these represent a 15% increase over May, which reported 2,100 total appointments – a 26% jump over April.
And as far as employee buy-in, “Because the BDC uses this single, simple product to drive all sales, service, and call center processes, our staff more quickly acclimate themselves to streamlined processes, now that we have one product to use – instead of four,” Kniffin explains.
In fact, Kniffin’s BDC representatives have used the CRM to catalog more than 110,000 customer emails – a remarkable achievement and not one without purpose. With this valuable asset, Kniffin leverages his CRM provider for personal management of targeted, multi-channel, permission-based, marketing campaigns. Driving significant business to each store, this effort has resulted in nearly 1,300 vehicles purchased solely through campaigns alone in the first six months of 2010.
The BDC’s involvement with campaign management is paying dividends. “By creating a controlled environment with our BDC, we have improved inbound and outbound call quality and quantity, average lead response times, and overall follow-up quality,” concludes Kniffin. On a related note, the group has seen up to a 90% increase in traffic generated by email campaigns over 12 months; while the number of email responses for the entire organization jumped to 67% in a mere six month period.
By synergizing his BDC effort with the managed marketing services through his CRM partner, Kniffin quickly saw improved performance and results, growing awareness of the entire Germain brand. In one year, web traffic increased by an average of nearly 30%, with the largest increase of 58% at Cadillac of Dublin. Not surprisingly, the dealerships enjoyed a surge in Internet leads. In fact, Internet leads across all brands increased by an average of 53%. Kniffin shares, “18% to 40% growth in our Internet business over the last few years is due to the assistance of a BDC rep using the right tools to strengthen our Sales and Internet processes. Our Internet customers stay better connected in a highly organized, controlled, and quantifiable manner.”
“Orientation to process, people skills, and Internet sales is a serious concoction for outstanding growth, but every person in the dealership, from the dealer principal down, must be involved and committed.” And that’s just what Germain has achieved. With the BDC now well-equipped and focused on appointment setting and customer loyalty, the salespeople can now focus solely on working prospects and closing deals.”
“Ultimately, I think the biggest advantage we have is that our ILM and BDC tools completely integrated with our CRM at a level which other competitive CRM tools can’t deliver,” states Kniffin. With the right tools and best practices in place, everyone is working together to provide the ideal customer experience – the ultimate goal for Shaun Kniffin and the entire dealership family at Germain Motor Company.