5 Tips for Starting Your Dealership BDC

dealership BDC

As the internet increasingly impacts the automotive industry and customer behaviors are evolving, more dealerships are establishing a Business Development Center (or BDC) to leverage increased phone and internet traffic. These departments handle all incoming calls, route phone traffic, and engage in important dealership activities like lead management, appointment setting, and a host of other revenue-generating processes. 

If your dealership BDC is still in the works—or you have just started thinking about setting one up—you’re already playing catch-up with the competition. BDCs are driving profits for the top dealerships in America, and the faster you can get yours up and running the sooner you’ll start reaping the rewards.

Sound complicated? Don’t worry! At Phone Ninjas, we’ve been helping dealerships around the country establish their BDCs and keep them firing on all cylinders. We’ve got some killer tips on starting a BDC for your dealership that will ensure your phone and digital management channels are second to none. 

1) Find the Right People

Many businesses think BDCs are all about customer service or are a subset of that department. Not so! While customer service is a major component of every part of your dealership, BDC centers are more focused on marketing and lead generation. It stands to reason that the person you hire to manage your dealership BDC should have good marketing credentials and natural talent. 

Rank-and-file BDC associates should be selected based on your normal criteria for filling customer service-centered positions, and you’ll likely have your own criteria based on your business model and market dynamics. Of course, there are a few personality traits that most successful BDC team members will have:

  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Positive outlook
  • Effective communication skills
  • Empathy and good listening skills
  • Natural appreciation for rules and procedures 
  • Solid logic and quick thinking

2) Your BDC Should Be a Separate Department

While it might serve similar functions as a traditional reception desk, a BDC is definitely not the same thing by a different name. A BDC is a separate department that is primarily focused on activities that drive revenue—not just call routing and general customer service. There are many advantages to establishing your dealership BDC as its own department:

  • Your BDC can focus on its task without other responsibilities bleeding in.
  • Management and team members are accountable for a single, clearly defined mission.
  • BDCs have to be very closely managed to avoid overloading managers and team members with too many responsibilities.
  • It allows owners to more accurately judge how their dealership BDC is performing.

Dealerships that try to cut corners on expenses and staffing by expanding or loading up an already established department risk much lower ROI, including losing money through inefficiency and mission confusion.

3) Give Your BDC Team Its Own Space 

Don’t cram these folks into a supply closet or another department’s area! They need dedicated and appropriate space for all the reasons mentioned above, but also because good working conditions lead to higher employee satisfaction and productivity while minimizing mistakes. 

That being said, that doesn’t mean you have to clear out your showroom or partition off the breakroom. A dealership BDC can operate in a relatively small space—especially if it’s just one or two people—and an experienced dealership consultant can help you find an area that gets the job done without compromising the rest of your operations.

And at the end of the day, you can also set up your dealership BDC at an off-site location, although this isn’t an ideal solution. They can still perform all the same functions and deliver great results for your bottom line, but it can create barriers with other employees and a reduced sense of ownership of overall business success. 

No matter where you eventually set up shop, keep the following features in mind:

  • Good lighting minimizes mistakes, clerical errors, and eye strain.
  • Accurate thermostats and reliable A/C equipment will keep the environment pleasant. Workplaces that are too hot or too cold experience morale and productivity issues.
  • Internet and phone utility services should have sufficient capacity and reliability to deal with the most extreme volume spikes.
  • Workspaces should be in good shape, pleasant and relaxing to work in, and well maintained. 
  • Clean, easily accessible bathrooms. 
  • In the event you need to find a separate location, locating your dealership BDC in a safe neighborhood is important for employee morale and safety. You also may experience difficulty staffing in unsafe locations.
  • Easily accessible and safe parking.

4) Give Your BDC Team the Right Tools

Your dealership BDC will need a lot of the same equipment every other department needs: printers, computers, comfortable furniture, basic office supplies, coffee maker, etc. It’s not very complicated, but depending on the workload and scope of your business, some dealership BDCs will require advanced equipment and services like:

  • Real-time data backups: the whole point of a BDC is to store and process massive qualities of data to generate and bring in quality leads. Losing data to a single instance of a server crash, power outage, or equipment failure could cost you dearly. 
  • Top-notch phone and internet service: your BDC team will be using this stuff heavily to bring in customers. Dropping calls or chats, touchy connections, and sub-optimal servers failing to keep up won’t get the job done.
  • Quality wired headsets: While cables are an annoying hassle, Bluetooth and other wireless tech are simply not as reliable. Connections drop, batteries die, the sound quality is worse, and it’s typically more expensive to boot. Dealership BDCs may be tomorrow’s revenue solution, but sometimes Old School is still the best way to go!

5) Train Your BDC Associates Well

Just like your other departments, you want your customer service to be uniform, high quality, efficient, and effective. This means training your people thoroughly until their presentation is relaxed, natural, and reliable.

The skills they need to do their job well take expertise and deep industry knowledge, and most GMs and owners simply don’t have the time to research and create training programs for a dealership BDC—even if their business desperately needs one. It’s essential to get the right training partner who can get everything set up, create great phone scripts, and deliver ongoing active coaching to make sure your team stays at the top of its game. 

The best consultants not only get these revenue powerhouses moving but can do so while operating largely independently so they don’t eat into your time and energy. They’ll confirm strategy with you, check in when there’s an important question, keep the other departments aware of processes and personnel, and deliver you the numbers to back up your investment so you can make solid business decisions. 

Set Up Your Dealership BDC for Success

At Phone Ninjas, we’ve made our name helping dealerships set up the most successful BDCs in the industry. Our training and coaching regimen is proven to boost in-person customer appointment rates from phone and internet channels by three to four times over your current levels. 

Our Vice President in charge of Training Mike Hoyser personally develops your team (in person or remote, depending on your preference) to make sure they have a solid foundation of skills and materials. Mike has decades of experience working closely with people and businesses, and there’s nobody better in the game for efficiently and enthusiastically developing a dealership BDC.

Next, our team of Phone Ninjas goes to work mentoring your BDC associates individually in weekly coaching sessions to give them the support they need and make sure they are absorbing and deploying Mike’s training quickly. We support all of our work with solid metrics and data, and we utilize mystery shops and real customer calls to generate feedback that resonates with your people. But don’t just take our word for it. Listen to a real BDC associate for one of our clients talk about how we helped her grow in her job. 

We can’t wait to work with you to start leveraging a BDC that will set your business up for the future in the automotive industry.  Contact us today for two free mystery shops and a demonstration of our time-tested program!

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