BDCs/Internet Processes - What do you believe in?

Steve Devereaux
Do you believe in BDCs or a single person/department being responsible for handling dealership Internet leads. I read Dale Pollock's book, Velocity, and I remember him talking about BDCs, but I can't remember his opinion on them. Some people believe that a entire dealership should revolve around the Internet and the Internet strategy of the dealership, which is true, but I think making someone responsible for certain things like response time and continuing to work the leads over time could be more effective. What do you think? What kind of process do you have in your store now and how do you think it could be improved?
Bryan Armstrong
Steve, I believe the best solution to be a true CCC (Customer Care Center) through which ALL Dealership communication flows. A BDM is held accountable to the metrics you list as well as Customer retention and ALL follow-up. An e-Commerce Director oversee's that Dept. as well as dovetails traditional and on-line advertising for a seamless transition and synergy. E-Comm should also be responsible for CSI and Reputation Management INCLUDING save-a-deal and following up with the Desk and F&I on CIT and unsold prospects. The GSM (except in a larger multi-store situation) is an eliminated position. It is redundant and usually a scapegoat position for dis-associated G.M's. Information is power and you should be able to access it from one source, not several.
Jeff Cryder
We [Lebanon Ford] used to have a designated internet department who would take care of internet customers from lead submission to sale. However, a few months ago we decided to restructure and ended up dissolving the internet department. the structure of our dealership reflects that of a Military Platoon. We have two Co-Directors of New Operations and two Co-Directors of Used Operations (Platoon Commander role). Below them we took the two gentlemen from the only Internet Department and made them the "Platoon Sergeants". The Platoon Sergeants handle all the Internet leads and disseminate them out to the sales staff. Their role really of lead dissemination/quality control/closer. They ensure the leads have been followed up with, all information has been gathered, check the deals and help close the deals. They also act as the liaisons from each department (new and used)to our internal marketing agency. Since we started this format in the beginning on May we've experience 3 record breaking months back-to-back and June was our best month in the stores history.
Steve Devereaux
Thanks for the responses. I appreciate it. @ Jeff I'm not really familiar with the military platoon structures. Haha, but I think I kind of get what you are saying. When you say that they help close the deals, what do you mean? I understand they work all of the leads that come in off of the Internet. Do they deal with the customers from that time until they are closed or do they TO them to the sales staff? Do they handle just the e-mails or the phone calls as well? Thanks!!
Jim Bell
I would be careful on having 1 person handling all of the leads. I think that they would get overwhelmed taking them cradle to grave. We have a structure of 10 guys/gals taking i-leads and taking them, getting them in, and then selling them. They handle everything. We do have a lot of automation with leads that don't respond to take away some of the tedius work. They also do take floor ups along with the i-leads. Phone ups are open to everyone. We are slowly transitioning to everyone taking leads (about half way there). Dealerships today have to become internet dealers sooner than later.
Steve Devereaux
Jim, It seems like you have a process that has 10 people that are "responsible" for handling the inquiries that come in via e-mail. I did find the chapters in Dale Pollock's Velocity in which this subject is discussed since I posted this thread (disc 5 if you have the audiobook). He says that a complete round robin today is the result of processes like BDCs failing, but he also says that he thinks dealerships will eventually become "Internet" dealerships where everyone handles "Internet leads". He does not believe in stand alone Internet departments. The problem I've found is that some car salesmen are great at selling vehicles, but they are horrible at working leads online. At our store we have 4 salesmen and they are all good. They are excellent on the phone, but they do not handle Internet leads that come in via e-mail very well. Our response time is horrible. I am working on changing our processes in the near future which is why I posted this thread. I think you may have trouble once you open handling e-mail leads to all salesmen. I think that you will find that some people can be great salesmen, but are not good at writing e-mails and won't be disciplined enough to stay on top of the leads, but that is just my opinion.

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