BDCs: Appointment-Setting Services for Dealerships

Appointment setting services

Converting leads into sales opportunities is the number one goal of a dealership’s sales team, and every dollar needs to generate a return on the investment. There are many ways customers might enter your sales pipeline, and the people answering the phone need to be trained to nurture them toward conversion as efficiently as possible. 

Traditionally, this has been the work of the same people who are showing vehicles to customers on the lot and handling all stages of the sales process. Unfortunately, today’s phone-heavy market environment requires specialized skills to optimize mission-critical activities like appointment-setting services and call routing to other areas of the business. It spreads resources thin and results in appointment rates for the average dealership of around 20%

Enter the business development center, or BDC for short. These communication and routing hubs are dedicated dealership solutions that optimize all your incoming calls to make sure that you capitalize on all possible revenue opportunities. 

The top dealerships are already using BDCs to drive their appointment rates as high as 80% in addition to delivering a host of other benefits. Those are tough numbers to compete against if you’re still going old school, and when they’re paired with expert automotive consulting services to perfect phone scripts and skills they’re a nearly unbeatable combination. Here’s everything you need to know about BDCs, and how to maximize their appointment-setting services. 

What Does a BDC Look Like?

BDCs are either set up on-site at your dealership or at a third-party location. In general, they handle all of your phone calls and online systems that pertain to generating business and direct that information to the people who can capitalize—like your sales team!

Setting up a BDC can be a remarkably cost-effective investment depending on the size and scope of your business. If you’re a modest dealership with a small service department, all it takes is a space, phones, a few computer screens, and some support from an automotive consultant. In some cases, a single person is sufficient to run your BDC, but for most dealerships, you’ll need a coordinator and a few additional employees to answer phones. 

What Does a BDC Do at a Dealership?

A BDC does exactly what its name implies—it develops and generates revenue opportunities for your business. This can take many forms, and a lot of their work occurs at the top to the middle of your sales funnel. Here are some of the activities they’ll engage in at your dealership:

  • Appointment Setting. This is the most important function of your BDC. If they do their job properly, they ensure no opportunity is lost to connect customers with the services and support they need.
  • Route Incoming Calls. By handling inbound calls, identifying basic customer needs, and connecting callers with the right person the first time, your BDC will save you time and provide valuable sales information that keeps your people ahead of the game. 
  • Connect with Potential Customers. Your BDC can contact and nurture potential customers by proactively identifying their goals and helping them find solutions. 
  • Generate Surveys and Feedback. Gathering feedback is critical for dealerships to maintain a competitive advantage, and your BDC will handle these activities for you.
  • Follow-Ups and Customer Retention. Every sales associate wants to make sure their customers are happy with their purchase, but they don’t always have the time to prioritize post-sale communication. BDCs make sure every customer gets a follow-up call and connects them with support when they have an issue.

Establishing a BDC for Your Business

While a BDC is simple to set up in terms of people and materials, it takes a lot of expertise and know-how to equip it with the materials and strategies that will maximize its value. After all, if the people answering the phones don’t know what to say or how to direct traffic, nothing they do will translate into dollar signs. That means low appointment rates and unhappy sales associates!

While it’s technically possible for a GM and support staff to create materials, develop strategies, and stay on top of training to make sure this beating heart of the dealership is in tip-top shape, it’s almost always too expensive and impractical. The best solution is to hire an automotive consultant who already knows exactly what a BDC needs to roll out appointment-setting services today and stay healthy in the long run. 

Look for the following elements from a consulting partner who’s helping you set up your BDC:

Producing Phone Scripts

Phone scripts have to be tailored to your dealership and market, and they’re the foundation of any well-organized BDC. They cover everything from handling tough customer questions to setting appointments, and your consulting partner will need to have a deep history in the automotive industry to get these dialed in.

Updates on Inventory and Strategy

The scripts and tactics your BDC representatives employ on the phone need to be constantly updated to stay aligned with changing market conditions, inventory, service center, and overall business strategy. To achieve this, BDCs require not only hands-on support from your consulting partner in terms of content but also ongoing training and coaching to ensure they’re hitting all the details and maximizing opportunities.

Active Coaching

The phone is where appointments are made or lost, and the tiniest details in how your BDC interacts with customers can be the difference between hitting your sales goals and falling flat. Any automotive partner you work with to develop your BDC should be investing in active coaching that takes place on an ongoing basis. 

They should be working with individual employees on specific skills that are consistently evaluated and improved, and generate reports and feedback you can base critical business decisions on. 

Make Life Easy for GMs

The whole point of a BDC is that it should be a well-oiled machine—just like the vehicles your team is selling—so GMs don’t have to stress about quality and performance. This should be a top priority for the consultant you partner with, and if they do their job properly, you won’t have to spend any time investigating how they operate on a day-to-day basis.

All you’ll have to think about is the revenue reports they send you—and with a great partner, that meeting will be the highlight of your month. 

Developing a BDC that Delivers for Your Dealership

A BDC can be a game changer for your dealership, and at Phone Ninjas, we’ve dedicated our career to helping businesses establish and maintain these appointment-generating powerhouses. We have decades of industry experience, and we’ve helped develop and maintain BDCs for some of the leading dealerships in the country. 

Our team will take care of all the details, create custom phone scripts, and coach your employees to maximize all your revenue opportunities—especially when it comes to appointment-setting services. 

Reach out today to schedule a consultation and demo of what we can do for your dealership!

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