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Tag Archive: BDC

Robin Cunningham

Service BDC: Where are Your Customers, and When Are They Coming Back?

Call Center Operators Working In Office

I’m a big fan of service BDCs. In fact, during my retail days in the mid-Nineties, I was an early adopter of the concept. I had asked a consultant friend of mine, who help dealers set these up, to give me a hand at my store. We had staff who were either mishandling or not making inbound and outbound calls, so I remember being eager to see the results.

This topic must have been on my mind recently when I asked a class of NCMi students, “Where are your customers, and when are they coming back?”

Well, you would have thought I’d asked the question in a foreign language or something! There was absolute silence in the room. Some were looking at others to see if they had an answer. My take on the look on everyone’s faces was, “This is THE question, isn’t it?” No one ventured an answer.

The first service appointment is key

So, I then asked, “How many of your dealerships set the first service appointment on each new and used vehicle at the time of delivery, based on time or mileage?” Of the 25 or so people in the room, only two raised their hands affirming that this was, in fact, happening at their dealerships.

When we started our BDC, one of the processes we decided track was the first service appointment. We, for sure, were not setting these. I’d heard that getting a 65% return rate for the 1st Service Appointment was the Holy Grail but, we were told, only 14% of customers would come back on their own for non-warranty, maintenance, and repair work. You cannot build a business on 14%! So it became part of the sales and delivery process to have the BDC, based on time or mileage, to put the customer’s scheduled first service appointment into the system.

Consistent appointments make loyal customers

While we were very good in service in those days—especially in menu sales and work found on multi-point inspections, which we called the “perpetual service clinic”—I am sure we were not setting next service appointments, something I now know is a critical component to service profits.

With that in mind, I asked my students, “How many of you set the next service appointment with each customer during the active delivery with their Service Advisor?” The answer was zero.

It’s a given that the first service Appointment is a must to get the whole process started, but it’s setting the next service appointment that keeps it all together. I always think of this analogy: “How often would we get our teeth cleaned, if the dentist didn’t call to remind us?” The answers range from “not as often” to “never!” Service work on automobiles is no different; most people forget about it until the vehicle doesn’t run or they are reminded of needed work. It’s so obvious that it still amazes me that so few American dealerships take the initiative to set the appointment!

Challenge yourself to invite clients back

We all know that customer loyalty is on the wane. In response, most dealers have invested in CRM software to help us keep track of our clients. Yet, these tools are only as good as our processes. The sad truth is that many of my clients still are not setting first and next service appointments, even when they use these tools.

So, here’s my challenge for you: Always be able to answer the question, “Where are your customers and when are they coming back?” Create a reliable system that gets your clients back to the dealership after their purchase and keeps them coming back.

NCM Expert Robin Cunningham is an instructor with our Institute and a frequent contributor to our blog and video series #AskNCM.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/02/service-bdc-where-are-your-customers-and-when-are-they-coming-back/

Lindsey Quinn

Five BDC Trends to Watch in 2017

Business Team Corporate Organization Meeting Concept

In many cases the first contact customers have with your dealership, the BDC is an important part of your business. We’ve reviewed what our experts have written about BDCs this year and identified five critical trends your dealership should watch in the coming year.

1. Increased focus on internet BDCs and digital selling

With more than 90% of new vehicle shoppers investigating their options online, there’s no question that digital strategies will play a major role in BDCs in 2017.

If you haven’t already formulated a digital strategy for your dealership or are uncertain how to get started with internet sales, I recommend you check out the NCM Institute classes Mastering Internet Sales and How to Lead in the Digital Marketplace. Taught by experts from Kain Automotive, each focuses on specific strategies to get your dealership up to speed and gives your dealership the performance metrics it needs to gauge your success.

Already have a solid digital strategy in place? Then it’s time to refine your efforts. Take a look at Lee Michealson’s recommendations for how to properly merchandize online. Next, run your website through Paul Potratz’s “Drunk Person Shopping Test” to see how it performs.

2. Expansion of service BDCs

Whether or not to have a service BDC keeps coming up in NCM Institute classes and 20 Group meetings. And given the increasing importance of the service department in maintaining customer loyalty and identifying sales opportunities, it’s not surprising that so many NCM clients are interested in investing in one.

Here’s what NCM expert, Steve Hall, had to say about service BDCs in a recent #AskNCM video segment:

3. Even more collaboration between BDC and Sales

There are many BDC models you can choose for your dealership. But if your sales and BDC teams don’t work together well, customers will be confused and frustrated.

Alan Ram recommends that you consider sales/BDC as one unified team. Not only does it help your dealership deliver one consistent message to buyers, but it also improves your credibility as a business. Read the full article for more of Alan’s suggestions.

4. Hiring for a better customer experience

We all know that employee retention in our industry is terrible: In fact, dealerships have plummeted to a three-year low with a dismal 45% retention rate. (Most industries, excluding farm work, hover around 67 percent!) And just one-third of sale consultants manage to survive to their three-year anniversary. That’s why we’ve featured article from our content partner Hireology that focus on how you can recruit and retain the best employees.

One huge trend we’re seeing to correct the retention issue is the push to hire employees who are highly skilled—or at least temperamentally suited—for customer service jobs. As competition grows even fiercer, strong soft skills are what will keep clients coming back to your dealership. This approach is so necessary that Hireology even recommends that you consider customer service skills over technical ability when selecting service advisors!

5. Personalized BDC training

Another growing trend we’re seeing are NCM clients who choose to customize training sessions for their dealerships or 20 Group.

Recently, Group 20B5 worked with their moderator, Mark Shackleford, and our NCMi staff to customize a training course that specifically addressed their needs. Taught by Steve Hall, shown below, the class was a great success. Scott Stevens, General Manager at Gene Stevens Honda, had this to say about his experience: “If you are in need of training for a new or seasoned Service Manager, I would strongly encourage you to enroll in this class. Timely information, real-world scenarios, all presented by people that have lived it, and been very successful at it.”

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The class, Scott explains, was exceptionally rigorous, “I am in an NCM 20 Group; when we meet, I take a lot of notes. I took twice as many notes in this ‘specific department’ training than I take at a normal 20 Group meeting!” And, he added, it was a good value, “I know that my money was well spent because of the lessons learned and the training material that we took home.”

Customized training can be held on-site or at NCM’s headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. (Might I recommend you come when the Chiefs or Royals are in town?) During the session, we can help you address BDC concerns or work with you for training in any department. Just contact the NCM Institute for more details.

There’s no question that the automotive industry is evolving. Have you seen these trends in action or are you noticing other changes? Tell us below.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/01/five-bdc-trends-to-watch-in-2017/

Alan Ram

BDC Success

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Let’s talk BDCs. There are many different types of BDC models, and what might work for one dealership may not work for the next, but there is one critical rule that applies to every type of BDC: They need to work cohesively with your sales staff.

The BDC disconnect

One mistake I often see Dealers making with BDCs comes into play when they have a BDC of non-salespeople taking sales calls. They tend to treat the sales staff and BDC as two entirely separate entities, rather than ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

This creates a problem when the customer comes into the dealership with information from a BDC representative they had previously talked to rattling around in their head. Then the salesperson, who is unaware of exactly what the BDC representatives are telling customers, meets that client in the showroom. The salesperson then ends up saying something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s just someone in the BDC, those guys don’t know what they’re talking about.” Even if the BDC representative has the latest and greatest training, things will go off the rails. When your salesperson doesn’t know what the BDC has told the customer, and openly admits it, your dealership’s credibility is shot, and you are stuck trying to dig your way out of a hole.

One team, shared success

Think about a football team. When they practice plays, they do it as a team. It’s a collective effort. The offensive line practices plays with wide receivers, running backs, and a quarterback in the mix. Everyone knows what everyone else needs to be doing. You need to take the same approach with your sales team. If you get your BDC and sales department on the same page, each understanding what the other is doing, you’ll soon find your dealership working like a well-oiled machine. You want a seamless message being conveyed to your customers.

Let me tell you how this applies to my training specifically. I often see hesitancy in salespeople, who wonder why they should have to go through my “Phone-Ups That Show Up” course when they don’t actually take sales calls. There are two reasons:

  1. The first is what we just discussed, in that they need to know exactly what the BDC is telling clients to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  2. Secondly, it’s all about phone skills. Even if your people are not taking inbound sales calls, they should still be putting a phone to their head hundreds of times every month in outbound calls.

Every time someone at your dealership picks up the telephone and doesn’t know what to say, or says the wrong thing, it may cost you a deal. You do the math. Your complete staff needs to be cohesive, as well as well-trained on the telephone, in today’s automotive industry. If you want to see your dealerships and BDCs succeed in a big way, this is not optional.

Ready to train your team? Check out in-person training options through NCM Associates, and discover our online platform, NCM OnDemandAlan Ram’s Management by Fire course offers additional tools for your dealership training needs.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/11/bdc-success/

Rick Wegley

To BDC or Not to BDC: Are Business Development Centers Here to Stay or Just a Fad?

Manager Instructing Customer Service Representatives In Office

Whether you have a small or large store, you’ve heard of a BDC. The concept has exploded over the last decade, with many experts positioning the Business Development Center (BDC) as the end-all, be-all solution to our lack of accountability with our existing sales force.

I don’t doubt that there are benefits to having a BDC, but what are we genuinely trying to accomplish with additional personnel when we’ve already hired a sales team?

Where did automotive BDCs come from?

The BDC was born out of the dramatic changes in customer-dealership communication witnessed over the last decade. The adoption of digital communication options such as email and social media, plus new expectations from customers that information be easily obtained online, has led to dramatic changes in how we train our people and how they interact with our clients.

The BDC provides a way for dealerships to manage the communication strategies of our first point of contact with both sales and service customers. In effect, the BDC regulates conversations and provides a consistent message to our clients that lead to a prospective sale.

Are BDCs worth it?

I have to ask: Is a BDC a crutch for our failures as managers, coaches, and leaders to teach fundamental communication and sales training? Or are we creating a new opportunity designed to increase sales and improve closing ratios with our current leads?

Let’s be honest, well-run BDCs are expensive. I estimate that operating a truly functional and adequately staffed BDC will likely cost upwards of $150,000 per year in salaries and benefits. This cost is a conservative estimate and is limited to a single person on any given shift, covering only normal hours of operation. For dealerships that operate both a sales and service BDC, this cost would likely double.

I am not anti-BDC, but I would—again—ask you to consider the fundamental objectives and goals of your intended BDC operation. Does it generate new business? Or is the BDC just following up on the leads your dealership already has?

And, in both scenarios, does the BDC exist because you haven’t trained your current employees on the correct processes and communication strategies to handle inbound leads? Perhaps better accountability and tracking measures would ensure that sales staff is taking advantage of existing opportunities.

If you choose a BDC, create a successful one.

If you want a high-performing BDC, you must clearly define and communicate your goals and objectives, not only to your BDC personnel but also to your sales force. Best practice is to have your intended BDC staff spend some time on your sales floor or with your service department so that they have a full understanding of how your daily operations integrate.

Once that training is complete, make sure your sales and service employees spend time with the BDC on a weekly basis. This ensures that each team member better understands the different roles each department plays in the sales process, the unique challenges each face, and how their objectives and goals align. Communication between departments is a prerequisite for good performance.

Bringing it all together: A successful sales team.

The ultimate purpose of a BDC is a high-performing sales team that brings in—and closes—leads. With a well-defined strategy, aligned goals, cross training of key personnel, and regular communication between sales, BDC, and service you can support a wildly successful BDC operation.

The key elements of success or failure of any BDC operation are fully dependent on their ability to generate new business or retain/improve closing ratios on existing business opportunities. Any other method or reason for implementing a BDC would be considered only a crutch—a very expensive and likely wasteful crutch—for your current operational practices.

What do you think: Is the BDC simply a sales crutch? Or a valuable and necessary component of the modern auto dealership?

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/05/to-bdc-or-not-to-bdc-are-business-development-centers-here-to-stay-or-just-a-fad/

Jessica Kain

BDC Bad Habits: Automation & Templates

Old Habits - New Habits signpost in a desert road background

I am lucky enough to spend each week traveling across the United States helping dealers improve their internet operation and, therefore, their overall success.

Prior to each of my visits, I analyze the current processes and communication tactics leveraged by each dealership. After years of review, I’ve discovered an eye-opening truth … unfortunately, no matter the market, unique background or size of the store, they all seem to share the same bad habits!

Over the next few months, I’m going to review these “BDC Bad Habits.” Keep an eye on the NCM blog to learn what common BDC tactics you should avoid—and why you should replace them—to improve your internet sales department!

Automation is great, but it can’t succeed on its own

Automation and templates can be great tools for small businesses. In fact, they’ve been so successful for the automotive industry, that we’ve become extremely dependent on them.

So, what’s the problem? Well, this trend becomes a bad habit when you pair it with the automotive industry’s rarely changing processes. Unless your templates and automated marketing address current customer needs and pain points, it’s not going to help you close sales. And, if your message is too far off the mark, it can be a recipe for low close rates, ROI, and morale.

Four steps to fix the automation BDC bad habit

Knowing how to repair the automation problem can sometimes be the most confusing part. Here’s what I recommend: we are going into the summer selling season, which means this is the perfect time to do some spring-cleaning!

Go through your CRM. Clean out any old templates that are not engaging and/or have reached their expiration date.

Replace your first two days of customer follow-ups with personalized responses. Personalization is key to standing out from your competition that is sending template after template to fill a follow-up task. The only way to convince someone to come into the store and buy a car is to get a response, so make it a good one.

Personal sounds easier than it really is, so make sure your team is equipped to do a great job with this. Here are some examples from Hubspot to get you started.

Call. I continue to see that we have an overwhelming bad habit of not calling the customer and this can be extremely dangerous. According to a BIA/Kelsey study, mobile searches will generate 73 billion phone calls in 2018; so phones clearly aren’t dead! In fact, I’d argue that our customers are tired of waiting for us to answer their questions, so they continue to reach out directly. We need to make sure that we are prepared to pick up the phone when that lead hits our system, and have productive conversations with our customers.

Drag your procedures out of the Dark Ages. If you are not using a proven BDC process, start right now! Every method should be based on 100% task completion, but also on 100% quality. You must ensure that your team knows the process is the connection plan.

Need help breaking your bad BDC habits? Join NCMi for an Internet/BDC Operations Management course to gain more insights on how you can improve your dealership’s BDC processes and lead generation tactics.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/04/bdc-bad-habits-automation-templates/

Alan Ram

Is Your Dealership in Conflict?

Chess

Here’s the problem at many dealerships: In our heads, we know what we want our people to be doing on a daily basis, but our actions and processes (or lack thereof) contradict what our heads are thinking, and we end up sending our staff conflicting messages. What do many of you see as you walk through your showroom? You might see five salespeople standing out on the point for three hours, waiting for one customer while discussing their upcoming fantasy football draft. As a dealer, that should make you crazy. What do you want to see? You want to see your people working the phones EFFECTIVELY and driving better quality traffic to the dealership.

Here are a couple issues I see at play at many dealerships:

First and foremost is your open floor. There is absolutely no benefit to you as a dealer in having an open floor. NONE!! All an open floor does is encourage your people to stand around and do nothing while they wait around for a floor up that was coming in anyway.

I see this happen all the time; a dealership has my training and their people are excited to work the phones. A couple salespeople, who don’t necessarily think it’s part of their job to actually follow up or generate anything, continue to stand out on the lot…and wait. Luckily for them, they don’t have to compete anymore for floor traffic with all the salespeople who are doing what you want them to do on the phones. Let’s just say that one of the salespeople standing around happens to bump into a customer that buys a car. Pretty soon the salespeople who are on the telephone, doing what you want them to do, start realizing that they’re not having a chance to even get an up. Now human nature takes over and they start the migration back to the front door. They indirectly feel that they are being punished by doing what you asked them to do. Your open floor is hurting productivity and needs to go.

Have you ever had to bribe your kids to get them to eat their candy and ice cream? “Now Billy, if you don’t eat your ice cream, you’re not going to get any candy.” I doubt that’s a conversation that happens at anyone’s house. It’s more like, “If you don’t eat your Brussels sprouts, you don’t get dessert”. You don’t need to convince them to eat their candy and ice cream. They were going to eat that anyway. To me, spiffing your salespeople for selling your floor ups is the same thing. They’re going to take your floor ups whether you spiff them or not! If a salesperson that sold 25 cars off strictly floor ups was to leave tomorrow, how many deals would you lose? Probably none. Why? Because those customers would still come in. They would just be distributed differently. What about that salesperson that sells 20 cars a month off primarily their own efforts to repeat and referral clients? If that salesperson was to leave, how many deals would you lose? I would say all of them. Therefore, a salesperson that sells repeat and referral customers is far more valuable to you than one that sells floor ups. If you’re going to have a spiff program, let’s spiff them for what you want them to do versus what they were going to do anyway! A referral spiff for example. If it really is a referral your salesperson generated through their efforts, wouldn’t it make sense to spiff them for it?

We also all want our sales staff doing a better job at working (mining) their sold customer base. What if we spiff them for selling repeat customers or for turning service customers back into sales clients. Now you have your salespeople thinking, “I make more money by selling a repeat or referral client than I do a floor up.” That’s when they’ll start focusing on those things you want them to focus on. That’s when you’re using your spiff money to change their behavior and ultimately change the culture. You will not sell one less car by eliminating a unit bonus, but you’ll sell a lot more cars by instituting a repeat and referral spiff.

The key to this coming together and getting the results you want is obviously training. Your people need to be trained on how to get results on the phone. When they’re trained it gives them confidence. When they have confidence, they’re much more likely to be successful and they gain momentum. It all starts with training and having processes in place that are consistent with, and not in conflict with, what you want to see happening on your showroom floor.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/dont-let-business-development-kill-your-business/

Alan Ram

To be or not to BDC? That is the question.

Phone

Here’s a question for you:
Is your BDC the result of a failure in training?

That should have your attention.  If I’ve ever written an article that will be misconstrued, this will be the one! Let’s get this straight; your people don’t suck on the phones because you don’t have a BDC! They suck because you haven’t properly trained them! As I’ve talked to dealers over the years, I’ve seen many BDC’s spring up out of knee-jerk frustration. While there are obviously exceptions to the rule, this is something I’ve seen repeated in the industry over the past several years.  A dealer says, “We tried training our salespeople, but they’re still terrible at handling phones, so we’ve hired three people and all they’re going to do now is handle our inbound sales calls, as well as Internet leads.” I have a number of different problems with this thought process, and I’m happy to tell you about them:

1) So you’re telling me that the people that you’ve hired to sell Lexus in Chicago are capable of talking to a customer that walks into the dealership, but for some reason, it blows their flipping minds to talk to that same customer on the telephone or communicate via email? I’m not willing to accept that.

2) I have trained tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of salespeople and BDC reps over the years. In that period of time, I have found that it takes every minute as long to PROPERLY train a BDC rep as it does a salesperson. The operative word in the previous sentence is “properly.” As a matter of fact, it takes longer to train a BDC rep. Why? Because while the sales staff already knows the product, the BDC staff is starting from scratch. I’ve asked BDC reps specific product questions before, and you may as well be asking some of them the gross domestic product of Bolivia. So while you think you’re solving one problem, you’re really creating another. Most of the calls I listen to that are made into BDC’s do not represent an improvement over the sales staff. At most, it’s the “get the customer’s name and number” department while trying to set up an appointment without giving the customer an actual reason to come in. I’m not trying to be harsh here. This is fact. We are creating an unnecessary level of specialization at many dealerships.

3) In this day and age, where the number one thing I hear when I do dealer 20 group meetings is “expense, expense, expense!”, shouldn’t the number one expense be hiring a second group of people to do the job the first group should have been doing? We’re talking about communicating with customers on the telephone and Internet here! This stuff isn’t quantum physics. It amazes me that the same dealers who throw up in a trash can when they get a $1000 invoice for training have absolutely no problem adding as much as 20-40k of expense per month in creating a BDC.

4) With that model, no one will want to work for you! Your dealership will compound one of the biggest challenges we already have in this industry, which is the struggle to find good salespeople.  Put yourself in the position of a good sales-person looking for a place to work. You walk into a dealership to interview; it’s a beautiful facility and a great brand. Then the person interviewing you drops the bomb, “by the way, our BDC takes all sales calls as well as handles our Internet leads”. At that point, I would imagine you would stand up, thank the interviewer for their time, and walk out the door to the dealership that lets you handle phone-ups and Internet leads. Do not kid yourself! That is a huge challenge that many dealers hadn’t considered but are now facing. Good salespeople avoid working at those dealerships that severely restrict their opportunities, and those dealerships tend to become a culture of telemarketers and greeters.

Here’s the solution:
Train your people to do the jobs you hired them to do.

If I’m hired to sell cars at your dealership, I should be capable of communicating with customers in person, on the telephone, and online. That would be part of being a well-rounded salesperson. Unfortunately, salespeople don’t necessarily arrive on your doorstep well-rounded. It’s your job to train them. The sad fact is that much of what dealers have bought over the years in the name of training, hasn’t been anything close to training at all. Going to the Marriott and listening to myself or anyone else talk for eight hours is as much training as going to a baseball game is training for baseball. You might get educated, but you’re not necessarily going to get trained. For something to be considered training, three elements need to be present: 1) Education 2) Simulation 3) Accountability. If any of those three elements is missing, whatever you’re trying to accomplish probably isn’t going to happen.

Now I’m not trying to convince anyone to dismantle their BDC. What I’m telling you to do is make sure that you’re not replacing one group of people that you didn’t train properly, with another layer of expense that you’re not training properly either.

BDC’s ARE GREAT and provide a wonderful return on investment when you have them doing the right things the right way. For example, following up unsold customers. 39% of people surveyed say that the reason they would not come back to a dealership is because they didn’t like the salesperson for whatever reason. Too tall, too short, reminded them of their ex-brother-in-law or smelled like smoke. What this is saying is that your sales staff does not have a shot with 39% of what you think are their be-back opportunities. When the customer doesn’t like the salesperson they won’t tell him or her “we didn’t like you”. What will they say? “We’ve decided to hold off” or “We’re not going to do anything right now.” They won’t tell the salesperson, but they will tell someone else. That’s why it is critical that every dealership have someone in ADDITION to salespeople following up on each and every customer that visits the store. That is a great function for your BDC.

Another thing you can do is shift their focus to your service department. I have worked with many dealerships that have amazing success in having BDC representatives schedule both repair as well as recommended maintenance. They can actively be following up on recall notices and generating service revenue.  This is a huge opportunity.  Your service advisors are on the drive talking to customers. They’re in the shop checking on vehicles. Call your dealership. Try to get a hold of the service advisor sometime and see how often you get voicemail or get put on hold for a period of time.

So again, I’m not telling you to dismantle your BDC. Business Development Centers are great when they are actually developing business. Let’s just make sure you have yours focused on the proper opportunities.

ondemand

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/11/to-be-or-not-to-bdc-that-is-the-question/