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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Richard Rikess

Richard Rikess Performance Consultant

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Interview with Shannon Crane: Building a Successful BDC

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The Car Dealership Kingdom: Are You a Hunter or a Farmer?


You’ve invested in a great new dealer website; your job is done, right? Wrong. Although 61% of phone and email leads go on to purchase vehicles (Experian), many dealers still neglect to follow up with their email leads. Your automotive website is doing half the job by providing the lead, now you need trained staff to follow up and nurture them to close the sale. That’s where a Business Development Center (BDC) comes in. Although a BDC is now considered a must by many dealers, some are still resistant. Why? It often comes down to a culture clash.

Style Differences: Hunters versus Farmers

The traditional sales department is comprised of staff that can be regarded as “hunters.” These are the traditional auto sales types who are not effective following up with potential customers beyond a few days. Hunters are at their best when interacting with the “live” or walk-in customer; performance with telephone customers or email leads is usually inconsistent.

 The BDC employs people that are akin to “farmers,” willing to follow up with potential customers more diligently and for a much longer period of time. While farmers do not fit the “typical” car dealer profile, in the age of digital automotive marketing, it’s more important than ever to add staff whose specialty is converting long-tail prospects like email leads.

 The bottom line? You need both in your dealership to be successful. Here’s how to integrate farmers into the fold.

Setting up a BDC Department

Remember - there is not a “one size fits all” solution when a dealership chooses a BDC. The BDC’s operational strategy and structure will determine everything from the type of person hired to their responsibilities to how they and their department is measured once fully operational. However, here are some general guidelines that may be helpful in establishing your BDC department.



 A dealership must first determine the BDC’s purpose and scope.  Some tasks that can be diverted to the BDC include:


1.      Dealer website leads

2.      Phone Up clients

3.      Follow Up with Unsold Showroom Traffic

4.      Lease & Finance maturity prospects

5.      Service Customers


It is important to define the responsibilities that will shift to the BDC and those that will remain for traditional sales staff.



  •  When staffing, you will need to decide if you want your BDC center to handle pure appointment-setting, or start-to-finish appointments including setting up the appointment, meet-and-greet, test drive, etc. We will create recommendations for both below.
  • 1 BDR for every 200 phone ups
  • 1 BDR for 150 appointments set
  • 1 BDR for 70-80 start-to-finish
  •  1 BDR for lease and finance maturity customers
  • 1 or 2 BDRs for service CSI follow-up (dependent on service volume)
  • 1 Customer Relations Manager for unsold follow-up
  • Orphan owners

Moving Forward: Nurturing Your Online Car Leads

Like most dealers, you are probably thinking, “Where am I going to find these people?”Crawl, walk, run! You can take it in phases. Most dealerships start out by moving control of the dealer website and reassigning incoming phone calls to the BDC. This allows you to move at your speed. You probably have one or two Internet sales consultants monitoring your automotive website and setting appointments, then you can easily find and train one or two people to handle incoming phone ups.

Now put a pencil to it, Mr. Dealer - divide how many Internet-based sales you are making today by the number of email leads you are getting from your dealer website. Those leads are money left on the table-a BDC center is the key element to convert those sales.


Jared Hamilton
" Although 61% of phone and email leads go on to purchase vehicles (Experian)" - Id love to see more of that data if you can share it. Also, I particularly love the statement that " there is not a “one size fits all” solution when a dealership chooses a BDC." There are many ways to solve the structure problems that current dealers face but the facts are our industry was built to handle walk in traffic. Today we need to be structured to handle lots of different types of traffic. Walkin, phone and web.
Jim Chamberlain
I love your use of “Hunters versus Farmers”. I think this captures very well the difference between the two different personality types. The most important step in setting up and ultimately having a successful BDC is having TOTAL support from the Dealer Principle and General Manager. When deciding what tasks to assign to your BDC, just step back and take an honest look at what is not getting done in your sales and service department. Are your incoming sales calls really being handled professionally? Are they selling the car or the appointment? Are your Salespeople completing their follow-up? Have you read the emails they are sending to YOUR customers? Are your Service Advisors answering their phones, really? Are they scheduling the service appointments correctly? Are your service lanes jammed in the morning and empty in the afternoon? Have you noticed that there are almost never any service customers after about 3:30 on Fridays? Do they double or triple themselves up when a “big” job comes in? Remember that we have trained everyone to work their pay plan. A properly constructed BDC can eliminate these problems. How nice would it be to have all your calls answered within 3 rings and the person answering being able to say “I can help you with that”?

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