What is a BDC?

Jim Chamberlain
What is a BDC? Just about everyone I talk to in the business says they have a BDC. When I ask them what their BDC does, I get everything from, two ladies that answer phones for the Service department in the afternoons, to a phone room that pounds customers with razzle dazzle specials for sales and service. Some have a phone room that answers inbound calls for the sales department and many call the room the internet department works in a BDC. We have a BDC at our dealership. I have my own definition of what it should be. I’m curious to know what everyone else thinks a BDC should do in a dealership. Why do we need a BDC? Do we need a BDC?
Gary Mitchell
Robert...I actually agree with you in the theory that the sales staff should be the ones to make the follow up calls and proactivley contact customers. This is the best way to do it. Where I am concerned is in the practical application of this process in the typical dealership. This is all being dictated by the economy and the extreme need for less people to do more in the average dealership. Dealers tell me everyday that they are using less sales people because of the reduced commissions caused by the "skinny deals". They also are trying to have less sales people so they can pay them more. This is a huge problem because the follow up work load is so important because their are fewer ups and they are more valuable. Also, there is less time to train and to keep training on the activities. Now...you misght say, "why doesn't the dealer just build an internal BDC?" Conceptually, a great idea until they look at the costs involved and the fact that they can only be there certain hours of the day, but their advertising is 24/7. This is why dealers are looking to outsource these activities to a automotive specific call center and one who has the experience to interact with their customers.
Robert Wolf
So dealers dont have time? If business is so slow, I would think there should be even more time to train and get this right?? Usually, when there are ups everywhere and business is " good" is when we lose site. Just look at Toyota. When you think your doning awesome, is when we lose site of the "main thing", which is the customer. Maybe there would not be some many " skinny deals" if the dealers you service would make time to train there sales staff, work repeat, referal, service, and orphans. I never thought an " up" was more valuable than my previous customers?? An up closes at 10 to 15 percent compared to repeat and referals at 50 percent plus. Let's see in a bad economy which group should my staff focus on?? I don't think we need to do business 24-7. Maybe just working smarter during the 12 hours we spend at the dealership already would be good enough. Break up the coffee club and get in the service drive, listen to phone calls with the sales staff, call customers who were just there, or anything else. Working 2 hours of a 12 hour day and than blaming the economy is just an excuse. In a dealer group of 60 stores we are in the top 5 consistently without a BDC. Low turnover, high level of sales activities, value based selling, communication with service, customer loyalty, activity management, and have good sales skills are the keys to sucess today. Try calling your credit card company who outsourcing there business to "trained nobodys" and ask them for help. See how effective they are. Put youself in the customers shoes and who would you like to do business with. The dealer that can make things happen, or someone that is a go between? There is no one better to interact with customers than the people who work for that company.
Robert Wolf
The dealers you talk to that have no time, might just have no clue. I would recommend they get a huge bag. It sounds like they need to pack it in.
Jim Chamberlain
There always seem to be a lot of strong opinions and emotions about BDC’s in a dealership. I think part of problem is that there are so many different opinions or definitions of what a BDC is supposed to do. It’s not that many years ago that the idea of an F&I department was pretty crazy. However, if you ask anyone today what an F&I Department is or what an F&I Manager does, I don’t think we’ll get too many disagreements. I have come to my own conclusion that in my BDC we pretty much pick up all the stuff that we have been fighting the Sales and Service staff to do since the beginning of time. In my experience, most salespeople do a poor job of following up on their customers. We take the heavy lifting away from them (the most important calls) and give it to professionals whose job it is to handle these calls. We handle all inbound calls to the dealerships. We support the ISM’s by completing all the follow up on the leads (customers) that have not yet engaged with us beyond the first lead. This means fewer ISM’s handling more customers while at the same time it’s fewer tasks. They’re only working with the people that are talking with us. Remember, the BDC staff are making the 15 phone calls and sending the 12 emails it sometimes takes to get the customer to engage. Once they engage with us they go for the appointment or T/O to the ISM in the room if needed. It doesn’t take a Salesperson to dial a phone, my 16 year old daughter can dial the phone, trust me. Service advisors are setup to fail. They have a customer in front of them and the phone rings. No matter what they do they lose. We take the phone away from the SA’s and redirect them into the BDC. The call is answered in 3 rings and the person answering the phone can schedule the appointment, let them know if the car is ready and dispatch the courtesy van. Imagine calling the dealership service department and never going to hold or voicemail. What will that do for your CSI? We also handle the SOP’s and We-Owes. This is what I call “picking up the loose change”. This is the easy money. Now comes the fun part, “Business Development”. Business Development includes working our sales and service customer database, working with vendors to maximize our yield on third party ventures. We are currently working with 2 vendors (one of them with a virtual BDC) to help them come up with a different business model so we can continue to use parts of the product offering they have. They have both come up with some very creative ideas that work for us and provide them with a new product they can offer to other clients that are not in our DMA. This is a high level description of what we are doing. The fun is in the details. I’m not interested in debating the existence of a BDC but would love to continue discussing best practices, ideas, hurdles, processes, procedures and failures.
Robert Wolf
It looks like your dealership is fully committed to a BDC. I don't think that is a problem. For big dealers I think this is an effecient viable option. If it is well managed, effecient, and you have a system for getting leads to the appropriate departments. However, I think if dealers commmitted this same effort at training there own staff first, we may have never needed a "BDC." There certainly is many ways to skin a cat. I think the idea of outsourcing a BDC is borderline insane. It sounds like your dealership has a plan. I see to many dealers go back and forth and never comitt to anything. I think this is really the problem.

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