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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development

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Part One: What Does BDC Even Mean Anymore?

The role of the BDC has evolved considerably over the last five to six years. Where dealers built BDC teams only to dismantle them to then going back and reinstating them. Through the evolution of "the BDC," however, it has been quite common to add on additional tasks to the department. Whether that is managing the website, marketing, vendor management, and training, to name a few. So before you add additional responsibilities to their plate, make sure it will not impact their appointments, which is arguably their primary focus, no? Not to mention if their pay plan is solely focused on shown and sold appointments it can not only cause turn-over but places more emphasis on working a pay plan than working with the customer and offering them the experience they expect. All while they are juggling the many other additional tasks. 

Do the Responsibilities Match the Pay Plan? If Not, This Could Spell Trouble for Your Dealership. 

If your BDC Agent is expected to make one hundred phone calls, answer chats, in-bound calls, manage the sales consultants long-term follow-up, manage the CRM, marketing, and anything else that comes their way, it is challenging to sustain the results. And while there are arguments of "it's their job" -- less is more, no? That said, the pay plan has to reflect their actual responsibilities. If their pay plans are solely based on set, shown, and sold appointments, then we cannot get frustrated if their focus becomes singular, and the other various tasks go by the wayside - all of which affects incoming calls and leads. And sure, we could say that well in order for them to get more appointments the website has to be correct, chats have to be answered, marketing has to be done, the training has to be done - that is all very true. But that does not mean that it should - by any means - all fall under their roles and responsibilities if that is not what they are getting paid on. This is not an easy conversation, either. However, the fact of the matter is that the role has evolved, yet the pay plan seems to be relatively similar. In that, it remains focused on set, shown & sold appointments. 

For those with a BDC Manager, in most cases, the roles mentioned above are on their plate. But make no mistake, they often have to delegate tasks and responsibilities to their staff as it is often not possible to keep up with everything. All that to say, the importance of reviewing their responsibilities is not to make excuses, but rather to ensure that their pay plans are reflective of what they are doing. Otherwise, it can not just lead to their burning out, but worse - they wind up leaving, which means you have to either dismantle the BDC or hire another manager. I have seen first hand what happens when a BDC Manager quits. Yes, the dealer moves on, but it can and will cause chaos. On the flip side, if a BDC Agent quits, their responsibilities are then placed onto the BDC Manager. So not only do they have to do everything else - as mentioned above - now they have to make one hundred plus phone calls a day, too. It just doesn't make sense. 

What Does the Pay Plan of A BDC Manager Look Like? 

If your BDC Manager manages more than appointments, then their pay plan needs to reflect that. While salaries are often a taboo word in the auto industry, it can help keep their focus on all facets of the business not just on an end result, which is affected by all the above. If you do choose to pay them solely on set, show, or sold appointments than you should delegate their tasks or make sure you have the staff to take care of the other responsibilities. As I can assure you, if their pay plan is solely on set, show, and sold vehicles, that is what their focus is on. And while the efforts above impact that - I get that - it is exceedingly difficult to manage everything at once. 

On a less favorable note, too - a pay plan that offers you 'x' amount of dollars per shown or sold appointment based on volume sounds great. But given that - in most cases - that the BDC Manager has no say in the budget, itself and if you cut the budget it makes it that much more difficult to chase the pay plan. And no, this is not to say that instead, you pay them solely a salary, but the bottom line is that the pay plan has to make sense. Here is an example of a BDC Manager pay plan. 

This is based on an OEM Franchise that sells at least 45-50 new units, and 60-70 used vehicles per month. If you sell more/less, you can adjust the below rates. 

Weekly Salary: $1,000 / Monthly Salary $4,000

Bonus Plan: 

35 sold units / $750 

50 sold units / $1,250 

75 sold units / 1,750 

Annual Bonus $5 per sold unit (in this example, let's say it was 75 per month for a total of 900 units at $5 per unit): $4,500

Total Annual Pay Based on 75 units sold per month: $73,500 

At first glance, sure - you might be laughing, but the fact of the matter is that if your BDC Manager is managing the website, CRM, Marketing, Vendors Relationships, Vendor Integrations, Training, and a BDC Team to name a few even $73,500 is on the lighter side of the pay scale. By having a stronger salaried rate, too, it keeps their focus on what is most important - that is increasing leads that turn into shown and sold appointments through the efforts of their BDC Agents, and teams respectively. 

Another aspect of the pay plan is to remove the "bonus" for a shown appointment as a shown appointment is only deemed great if it sells, which is largely out of the BDC Managers hands. In that, while there are many arguments about 'fake appointments,' which is a topic/discussion for another article - this pay plan is designed to keep your BDC Manager focused on what's most important. In doing so, not only can it lead to retaining them, but it also enables them to implement new initiatives all while they are building their teams. 

Bottom Line: there is no one perfect pay plan. Each dealership has its own bottom line and market to work after. That said, the pay plan cannot be a canned plan from one of the "major trainer" players whose plan does not by any means take into account what the BDC Manager is and or does on the dealer level. Where in most cases, their pay plans are used as a means of offering a "band-aid" solution in that - "hey look, if you get 'x' leads, they get paid 'x' amount," which again, sounds great. But is only 'great' if a) the lead volume is consistent, and b) if their roles and responsibilities are solely limited to managing the BDC and not other facets of the business. Lastly, look - this is not a tell-all drama about underpaid BDC Managers, either. It's a conversation to be had. One that can and will impact your dealer's bottom line as your Business Development Manager and exec team are strategizing what is best for your dealership with regards to everything from digital marketing, CRM Management, Vendor Manager, and training to name a few. 

How do you pay your BDC Managers? Have you found an alternative pay plan that works for you? 


Daryl Sanders

What is transforming is how to change our thinking.  So many dealers view this as an additional expense.  It is actually a reallocation of budget categories.  We have been spending about $500 to $600 per sale for advertising.  I think that the BDC is now the way to get traffic, and historic spending on advertising no longer generates the traffic we need.

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