I know I know...
No one wants to see "2020". But let's at least embrace the fact that a historical event (good or bad) has forced change on how we do things forever. We are working in an industry that for years has refused to accept that the "Internet" will be the new way to do business.
Throughout the years we went from getting leads faxed in to high level developed CRM systems to search engine marketing and social media marketing of all sorts. We went from "A to Z" internet selling to "BDC" methods. The BDC of today is the billboard of yesterday. It is your marketing and advertising department that brings meat to the table. It is also the department that takes blame and abuse because no one is ever happy with the results.
The false expectations of what a BDC does and how it does it create huge turnover and unneeded expenses that most dealers face. We spent many years training regurgitated scripts to handle phone conversations. What has not changed is the buying style of consumers. The questions they ask and need for discussing numbers upfront are still here. The lack of process improvement still creates a three hour or longer car buying process.
Enter Digital Retailing…
A “buzzword” of a few years ago. A tool that many digital marketing companies have offered on most dealer websites that operated as a lead generator. Thankfully these companies have created almost like a desking tool where the customer can virtually desk their own deal, heck they can even complete their transaction and secure financing in minutes, leaving them only to pick up their vehicle or have it delivered to their home. The idea for working the process properly was never quite used which is why statistically we know that a tiny percentage of people using these tools complete a full transaction.
Now I had the good fortune of taking a job managing a BDC for a year in a wonderful store that uses “Roadster” for their digital retailing tool. I also continued to consult and build BDC departments in dealerships so I worked with the likes of CarNow and General Motors Shop, Click, Drive tool. It was a beautiful experience because as a trainer I completely trained myself to have better phone discussions that get straight to the point. The store had a process to get a commitment and prepare the deal while talking to prospects on the phone. If they start negotiation simply ask if they are ready to do this today and get a credit application.
When the appointment was set we saw over 70% show ratio and the deal was 40-50% done. The customer experience was phenomenal. The dealership operated efficiently selling over 250 units per month. My phone training changed and my philosophy of selling cars improved. Keep in mind that those of you that have followed me will remember that I have been preaching “Technology Assisted Selling” for almost a complete decade. It’s HERE!
So now I take a job as the General Manager of Dealer Retention Services where we handle outsource BDC operations for dealerships all over the nation. I quickly found our shortcomings with handling customers on the phone. I created a conference call with all of our dealer partners and General Managers and asked for permission to use their digital retailing tools and improve our conversations. They all gave me free reign to do just that and were happy to hear about my way of thinking. I trained my team of 30 agents how to understand shopper behavior, what sites to use and how to use digital retailing tools. They now operate efficiently and more effectively than 95% of the BDC agents in the entire automotive industry.
Now when we set appointments for dealers, customers come in with more real expectations and negotiations while they still happen as quickly and to the point. Maybe we stop expecting 100 calls a day per agent and drop it to 70 but we get 5 quality conversations that turn into real deals. Would you rather have 50 appointments on a Saturday where the process has to get restarted only to give the customer a bad experience or 25 appointments knowing that 17 will show up and 14 will buy?
My point is that in 2020 while it was a bad year for the entire world there were lessons that we should have learned. We will get through this! Pandemics will not stop us from being successful but they will bring the change that we need to embrace so we can continue to move forward!