“The more pessimistic your explanatory style, the easier it is to slip into learned helplessness.” ― David McRaney, You Are Not So Smart"
As an industry, we’ve stripped all accountability and responsibility from the people in our profit centers and in turn, have handed it over to a department that at its core, is a cost center. And we wonder why we can’t find good people.
The automotive industry has become really good at passing responsibility to someone else — anyone else. As many unfamiliar processes and platforms crept into consideration, nobody wanted to be responsible for managing the unfamiliar. One, because they didn't know how to, and two, if your salespeople are doing work that isn’t sales-related (in their mind) then it wasn’t worth doing. But as with everything, times have changed. And the distinction of a customer being an “internet customer” or not, is gone.
The internet, smartphones, and social media; these technologies are ubiquitous now. So the idea that we need to have different departments handling different things is an idea that needs to be retired. These “new” things are just part of the job — consider them necessary skills of the trade.
In the past, it became easier to pay a smaller group of people to do a larger amount of work. The problem with that model is that at a certain point you hit diminishing returns and the only way to grow is to either hire more people in your cost centers or invest in the people that make up your profit center.
BDCs rarely have the mindset that they are each a special, unique snowflake, doing work that only a specially-trained assassin can do. The job of answering phones and replying to emails is not exactly rocket science. It’s rarely strategic if I am being honest. In reality, BDC staff have been doing the jobs that no one else has wanted to do.
Everything that a BDC department accomplishes is not ‘untrainable.’ Assassins aren’t born assassins. That being said, you can’t be an assassin without going ‘assassin college’ first. And they aren’t magicians either. (Magicians get to wear way cooler hats.)
They’ve allowed the majority of their workforce to fall victim to learned helplessness and the only way to change this pattern is to adjust the way that they run their business.
We could start to see more dealers empower the people who really want to do a good job and begin to break down the wall that silos the BDC from the sales department because in reality, customer service is customer service.
The sales department of tomorrow doesn’t exist in silos. RIP Business Development Center.
Long live the Business Development dealership.