How Much Is Your Auto Business Development Center Making You—and How Much SHOULD It Make?

auto business development center

Many dealerships have built an auto business development center to drive appointment rates and generate more sales. The leading dealers are making money hand over fist on these investments—but it doesn’t feel like your BDC is delivering the same for you.

What are they doing differently that’s working so much better?

Measuring success can be tough because a BDC doesn’t sell cars. It sells appointments, and that means you’re looking for revenue a little farther downstream. On top of that, there are many different angles to upping appointment numbers and generating leads, and all of it depends on the hard and soft skills your phone representatives have. 

The biggest secret to success is working with a dealership consultant who’s an expert in developing those skills. That’s when you’ll see these three key metrics for your auto business development center start to skyrocket—along with your bottom line. 

Appointment Set Rate

The appointment set rate is the percentage of all calls that result in an appointment being booked. The industry baseline of all inbound and outbound calls is about 20% on average—nowhere near enough for a BDC to be profitable. 

The top performers are converting at least 50% of inbound and 20% of outbound calls. Sound impossible? Not with the right mentality, says Phone Ninjas expert coach Amy Hayes:

“People will do everything they can not to pick up a phone. When they call you, it’s because they want a car, they’ve hit an informational wall, and they genuinely need your help. At that point, it’s your appointment to lose or sell.”

With the right strategy for handling these tricky dynamics, the top teams Amy works with are seeing appointment rates of 60-80% of inbound calls and 25% of outbound calls. And that’s where a BDC’s work starts to be measured in dollar signs. 

Appointment Show Rate

Setting appointments means nothing if customers don’t show up. A well-run auto business development center has scripts and protocols in place that help make sure at least 60% of all booked appointments show up.

“If you get somebody to actually commit to spending their time with you, you have to build value in that appointment,” Amy cautions. “We teach that there’s a fine line between giving away too much information and providing excellent customer service.” 

Your BDC team will also need scripts that efficiently gather everything they’ll need to confirm appointments and open the door to more questions a customer might have when they arrive. 

They should guide representatives to:

  • Obtain customer data (half of all agents do not).
  • Enter the data into the CRM software.
  • Provide the customer with your contact information, address, and directions.
  • Have a manager call back a day before the appointment to confirm and follow up on any questions.  

Lead Generation and Qualification

The #1 task of your BDC representatives is to drive appointment rates, but they are also in the perfect position to develop your leads. The top dealerships are using their BDCs to analyze lead quality and prioritize opportunities, deliver valuable information to the sales team, and even handle referrals and introduce upsell opportunities. 

 “We want to get all of your numbers higher,” said Amy. “By talking with 20 people instead of 10, you can get more sets, more shows, and end up with five sales at the end of the month instead of one.”

And by coaching auto business development center reps to properly evaluate leads, up to 40% of the customers they send their sales team will be high-intent buyers they can capitalize on instead of only 10-20%. 


While these KPIs tell most of the story, it’s important to keep in mind there are a host of intangible benefits that help your auto business development center drive profitability:

  • Your BDC frees up other departments to focus on what they do best instead of spreading them thin. 
  • Your BDC can proactively meet customer needs, as well as target promotions and help customers take advantage of your service department. 
  • A well-run BDC will grow your customer base through their outbound call game identifying and contacting potential customers.

Once again, there are a lot of ins and outs to successfully navigating all of these opportunities over the phone. Success and failure may depend on a few simple words, and a great training partner will ensure your team gets it right when the pressure’s on. 

Maximize What Your BDC Can Do for Your Dealership

Your BDC may not hand over the keys, but with the right coaching strategy, these business powerhouses can put everyone in your dealership in a position to capitalize on potential opportunities. 

This is where Phone Ninjas can supercharge your auto business development center’s performance. We have decades of experience in the industry, and we know every angle and tactic to make the most of your phone game. As a result, our clients regularly see appointment set rates three to four times the industry average—and that speaks directly to your bottom line. 

“Sales Managers and GMs have a lot going on, and I think they could rely more on what a partner like Phone Ninjas can deliver,” Amy said. “Of course, ‘What are your scores?’ is an important question—but we can tell you why and what to do about it.” 

Contact Phone Ninjas today for a free demo and two free mystery shops, and find out what a true automotive training and coaching expert can do for your business. 

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