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Before you can hire, you have to recruit and that doesn’t mean just placing an ad in the local paper. Recruiting for a business development center (BDC) is serious business because these individuals will represent your dealership to the community. They will be your voice, your first impression. If you hire the wrong people, you could inadvertently ask prospects to shop elsewhere.
I am assuming you have already hired an outstanding business development manager (BDM)— that is, someone who can “show, not tell” other employees how to do their jobs. Hopefully, you have not hired an overpaid data entry clerk whose job is to create reports, as is done in many dealerships. You are ready to hire the business development representatives (BDR). This can be done in-house by a qualified BDM or it can be outsourced. For an inexperienced BDM, you may want to outsource the staffing the first time and have the BDM involved throughout the process. This will allow them to observe what should happen during the hiring process.
The best way I have found to locate good recruits is to run an ad for customer service representatives on various online listing services. The ad should be well written. It should indicate a ground-level opportunity with plenty of room for advancement, and it should offer free skills training. The ad should run at least two weeks before your scheduled training day. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications online or by e-mail only.
Once you have applicants, begin by conducting the first interview over the phone with each person. The only disqualifier during this stage is an inability to communicate well on the phone. If they can’t pass a telephone interview, you certainly don’t need them on the phone representing your dealership. Based on the telephone interviews, invite up to 10 times the number of openings you have to the training camp.
At the beginning of the training camp, which is usually a two and-a-half- to five-day event, only about 50 percent of those applicants who said they would attend will actually show up. This is normal. Some won’t commit to the time, while others are kept away by their fear of the unknown. Either way, they just self-eliminated themselves for their lack of commitment to change.
All applicants should be asked to sign a waiver, which should say something to the effect of: “This training is offered free of charge. You are being considered as a candidate for a potential job opening and if an agreement for employment is reached, you will be paid for the time spent in training on your first paycheck.” This is a very condensed sample. You will need an attorney familiar with the laws of your state to help you draft this properly.
The training camp should cover the general BDC process and involve extensive role-playing. This role-play is, in reality, the second interview. At this point, you will start to eliminate those who can’t grasp what you really do. You want articulate and persuasive individuals who can adjust and adapt to callers in a way that builds rapport.
At the end of the workshop, give a written exam to see how much the applicants have retained. Essay questions are best for evaluating retention. By the time the applicants have completed this process, you will have identified your strongest candidates to hire. Business development team leader (BTL) candidates will rise to the top during this process and can be hired to manage three or four BDRs.
In addition to the previous skills, I look for basic typing skills; 30 words per minute is fine as long as they are comfortable on the computer. Applicants must possess a willingness to learn, be flexible in their work schedule and be willing to work on a production-based pay plan. This does not mean that they are commission-only. BDRs need a base rate per hour with incentives for meeting and exceeding goals.
BDRs are not expected to meet the clients, nor would I recommend it. We have all done it at least once. We speak with someone multiple times on the phone, but we have never met them. Then, one day you have the opportunity to meet them face to face, and when you do, they are nothing like you expected and you are disappointed. The same thing happens with your BDR. Once a BDR meets a customer, the mystique is lost. If the BDR doesn’t meet the customer, they can become the customer’s advocate to some degree. This also allows the BDR to follow up with customers and correct flaws in the sales process. This is something that doesn’t work well if the customer and BDR have met in person.
The last thing I feel is important in the hiring process is to know why this job is important to the applicant. Anyone with an average IQ can be trained to do the job. The best hires boil down to their level of motivation and determination to succeed.
Hiring the right people for your BDC is not as difficult as it sounds, but it does take time, patience and training. However, isn’t that true with all positions in the dealership? Make the time to find the right employees now.