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? Tell us here.