8 Automotive BDC Best Practices To Tune Up Your Dealership in 2020


Detroit, MI - Detroit Trading BDC Services

The best way to ease dealership angst and stress is to add these 8 BDC Best Practices to the sales arsenal.

The term BDC has evolved through the years, but most recently the term BDC can be described as the department within a dealership responsible for converting Internet leads into dealer foot traffic (e.g. appointments, test-drives, etc.). Why is a BDC so important? Simple: because today in 2020, 86% of car shoppers begin online. That’s undeniable. In this article we’ll review 8 BDC best practices and how they can help level up your dealership while increasing the experience you deliver to your shoppers.

1.) Setup your CRM for both BDC and Sales

Your dealership’s CRM is your team’s database of customers and prospects/leads. It’s important because it houses all the information needed to move a prospect towards a sale. CRM’s can help you with the whole sales cycle – from bringing in new prospects to closing another car sale with a current customer. Most dealers do a poor job of maintaining their CRM’s and setting their CRM’s to support the online sales process. That’s a shame. Instead, CRM’s should be regularly cleaned, at least quarterly. Duplicates should be taken out, redundant and or bad information deleted, and old employees removed as users. The BDC’s sales process should be specifically set-up within the CRM to mirror the exact process of the BDC.  Keeping your CRM fresh and having the BDC sales process reflected within the CRM will prevent slippage. Slippage is when your team starts viewing your CRM as a necessary “evil”. Don’t let it get there.

2.) Embrace automation with your overnight strategy

Did you know that up to 40% of a dealer leads are coming into your dealership when the dealership is NOT open? It’s a large percentage of your leads. Most dealerships don’t have a process in place to touch these leads and shoppers for long periods of time. Autoresponder emails don’t provide value or gratification to today’s online shoppers. Ever hear of a stale lead? A lead that is old, you haven’t done anything with and it’s basically fizzled out? A lot of these are overnight leads and it’s important to lock down a process and ensure these shoppers get a two-way communication from you.

Sending emails with specifics, such as links to inventory, appointment self-scheduling applications, and information on current rebates and incentives adds value for today’s shoppers. Sending either an email autoresponder or a one-liner stating, “hey saw you were on our site, what questions do you have?” does not add value.

Lastly, having a solution (internal or outsourced) in place to make immediate phone calls your shoppers during hours when the dealership is closed is becoming a key Best Practice for those dealers wanting to run an elite BDC and provide a world-class experience for their shoppers.

3.) Get better at smartphones. Really!

We’re always baffled when BDC agents and salespeople at a dealership don’t know when, why and how they should use their smartphones for work purposes. Shoppers can find prices online and can complete most of what’s needed without going to the dealership. Using smartphones to provide a shopper information is great but using your smartphones to create stronger relationships with your shoppers is even better. Empower your Automotive BDC to use every advantage they have in order to win business. Even a short video taken on your salespeople smartphones introducing themselves and showing the main vehicle of interest can be HUGE in establishing a great relationship and trust with your shoppers.  Your smartphone can help you make your relationship with the shopper stronger and more likely to want to purchase from you.

4.) Put your best BDC agents on your freshest work

It makes sense to put your best agents on the freshest work (e.g. inbound calls and most recently received fresh leads). You might think that this gives them an unfair advantage over a BDC salesperson, but that’s ok. It creates a chain of command; a pathway for success and career advancement and performance/characteristics to aim towards. Your most experienced agents should be your best paid agents, so make sure they’re getting the work that is already hot. Let the new guys learn how to convert cold follow-ups and turn them into solid opportunities. By then, they’ll be ready to run with the ranks. With this BDC best practice, you create the ranks and help get your “heavy hitters” on the right work.

5.) Ensure an Effective Treatment Schedule is in place

We’re often asked what makes up an effective treatment schedule. Usually it’s a combination of the number of shopper outreach attempts (or touches), method of outreach (e.g. phone call, email, and/or text), and a strategic cadence of these outreaches. Cadence is the period between touches, and touches is the number of contact points. A good rule of thumb is: 12 touches over a 6-day period. This “BDC best practice” hedges your bet and creates efficiency on your BDC’s efforts required to get a shopper to engage with them while also weighing the fact that some online shoppers, for various reasons, won’t even engage with your BDC. This approach will allow you to put forth a solid effort to engage each shopper, and essentially get to the engagement or call it quits at the appropriate time. By then the amount of effort spent to realize the intent of the shopper is about 15 minutes. If, within that time no progress is made, we can keep moving forward and focus on shoppers who have engaged with the BDC.

Having treatment schedules in place that go on for 180-360 days are usually irrelevant, “spammy”, and produce very little opportunities. Don’t get into the habit of building lengthy treatment schedules. Shorter, sharper, personable, and themed treatment schedules perform better.

6.) Don’t forget about the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Be very aware of the TCPA. It provides the guidelines for when you can contact consumers throughout the year. These regulations can pose a risk for your dealership if you are not in accordance with them. Many dealerships and businesses have learned this lesson the hard way and have ended up paying large financial penalties for failing to comply. You should be very educated and make sure you have the proper consents from your online shoppers, otherwise you run the risk of incurring penalties or at the very least, having your emails flagged as “spam”.

7.) Hold the team accountable with KPI’s

If you were asked what five metrics give you the best feel for BDC performance, what would those be? If you focus on these five things, you can get a solid feel for performance increases or decreases day over day, or week over week. This way you’ll get a feel for who are your top performing and lower performing BDC personnel. You’ll also begin to understand how and if your entire end-to-end process is working relative to past performance. Here are five KPI’s that we recommend for BDC’s just beginning this KPI target setting process:

  • Response Time (from receiving lead) Aim for under 2 minutes
  • Appt Set Rate (appts/leads) Aim for 35%+
  • Appt to Show Rate (shows/appts) Aim for 55%+
  • Show to Close Rate (shows/sales) AIM for 65%+
  • Overall Close Rate (sales/leads) Aim for 10%+

8.) Go with a Sustainable Pay Plan that encourages Teamwork

This is easier said than done but maintaining a culture of cross-functionality can take bottom-line-sales and overall performance at a dealership to the next level.

A big issue we see in dealerships that use their BDC to create appointments/opportunities for their non-BDC sales team, is that pay plans differ so much that they end up having a counteracting force. And that’s not good. Instead, make sure that you have a sustainable pay plan put in place that rewards on measurables that have a high chance of resulting in sales (e.g. appointment shows). The ultimate goal is to create a pay plan that supports your BDC’s efforts while also creating an environment of teamwork with everyone involved in closing a deal. Staying disciplined with the sharing of commissions when the BDC team contributed to a sale creates respect for the BDC and encourages a “getting the sale done is the most important thing no matter how we achieve as a team” mentality and can be a key practice.

Call, Text, or Email Jeff Bonner:

(248) 990-8628

Copyright 2020 Detroit Trading Company

Get industry-leading data insights.

  • We've invested years of work into people, process and technology.

    Let us help you.

    Call: (248) 352-1313

Can't wait? Call (248) 965-4875 to learn more about our BDC Services.