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Often, when dealers are contemplating starting a business development center (BDC) in their dealership I am asked, "Who should run the BDC?" The question I should pose to that dealer is: how good do you want your BDC to be? A business development manager (BDM) is directly responsible and accountable for maximizing sales and profitability of the BDC to agreed levels of performance. To achieve top performance, you have to hire top talent.
Before you begin searching for the right BDM, you will need to understand the proper dealership personnel structure once you implement a BDC.

Sales Department BDC
Dealer Dealer (or GM)
GM BDM
GSM BDL
Sales BDR

Notice that the BDC is not a part of the sales department. It is a separate department accountable to only the highest level of management in the dealership. This means you are looking for a top-level manager. Applicants looking for a $40,000-a-year job are not your candidates. You should expect this person to earn $60,000 or more a year, depending on your market.

Your new BDC will adopt the attitudes, work ethic and beliefs of its leader. If you put someone in charge who doesn't project the image you want for your dealership, your dealership image will change over time— the individual in charge will not! Regardless of whether you have already hired or have yet to hire this individual, the candidate needs to have the attitude, work ethic and beliefs of the dealership owner. The BDC will become the voice of your dealership in the community. What do you want it to sound like?

In my opinion, the person who should be running your BDC is the absolute best communicator you know. Notice I didn't say the best communicator currently on staff. You may not have a top performing communicator on staff yet and will have to hire this person. Also, notice I said communicator, not talker. Communicating and talking are not the same.

This individual will work with those directly in his or her department, but they will also interact with those individuals who mean the most to you— your customers. The BDM will also communicate with the sales department and finance office in reconciling appointments and sales. Therefore, the BDM must be a team player for the dealership, not just the BDC.

The BDM must be able lead by example. This person's communication skills should be so strong that he or she is capable of taking any customer T.O. in the BDC to secure an appointment. Additionally, if a business development representative (BDR) or a business development team leader (BDL) is absent, the BDM must pick up the slack on the phone so production does not fall off. The BDM is the "show me" individual in the department, capable of demonstrating to any employee how to properly manage a call which leads to an appointment that shows.

The BDM is responsible for all staffing, scheduling and reviewing compensation and incentives for all BDC employees. He or she must be able to hold those they supervise accountable and, when necessary, reprimand less-than-outstanding performance. A BDM must be a coach and trainer orchestrating twice-weekly training sessions for all BDC employees. Additionally, he or she must be able to encourage competition while maintaining unity and teamwork in the BDC.

The BDM must know, or be properly taught, the telemarketing laws in your state and adhere to all Do Not Call regulations. Adherence to these laws must be a priority for the manager (and anyone making calls) because the last thing you need is another door for plaintiffs' attorneys to come knocking on looking for an "issue."

As the old saying goes, "You can't manage what you don't measure." So, last but certainly not least, are the BDM's productivity measurement duties, which include:

• Assure all scheduled appointments are solidly confirmed

• Assure a minimum of five appointment shows per BDR each day

• Monitor incoming calls and appointment-to-lead percentages daily

• Hold team leaders responsible for daily outgoing calls

• Make and take T.O. calls and demand improvement

• Obtain new customers and raise CSI

• Create good public relations consistent with effective use of time

• Constantly update and purify customer records

So, I'm back to my question of how good do you want your BDC to be? If you want your BDC operating at benchmark levels of five appointment shows per BDR each day, you have to search for and hire the best communicator to run your new department.

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