Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as you read this, countless dealership BDCs are successfully losing dealership dollars. It could be due to faulty processes, lack of communication between departments, and uncommitted staff.
However, it’s 100% due to lack of proper training — and not just the training of your BDC. No, no. Business development is, and must always be a dealership-wide effort. Let me explain.
Who Isn’t Developing Your Business?
Think about it. Everyone who works in a dealership department that impacts revenue is in business development. Everyone who interacts with or supports your customers is in business development. Dealership staff who never lay eyes on customers, but depend on their revenue are in business development.
Unfortunately, most people at the dealership aren’t fully aware of it. Or worse, they are, and they don’t exactly know how to play their role in business development.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever come across any of these costly situations:
- Your compensation packages were convoluted – How you structure compensation plans can be the critical difference between success and failure at your dealership. Is your pay plan focused on generating repeat and referral business, or does staff get paid the same amount of money to stand around?
- There was a hole in your lead attribution – Unfortunately, where there’s performance based pay, there are always loopholes. If a John Smith submitted a lead, and two months later a John Smith bought a car, how sure are you that it’s a BDC deal?
- The handoff from BDC to sales sucked – Integrating your BDRs with your salespeople is a balancing act. When you lose rapport during the BDC-to-Sales handoff, you’re wasting the opportunity to create a VIP dealership experience and build a good relationship with your customer.
The list of potential BDC pitfalls goes on, customer satisfaction scores continue to decline, and the pressure to perform increases. The cherry on top? You lose a handful of employees you just spent tons of money on training.
Now imagine every single employee at the dealership recognized their responsibility to ensure all prospects and customers had a stellar experience online, over the phone, and in person. From the online chat representative who’s often the first point of contact during the car buying process, to finance personnel who can tip the purchasing decision scale, everyone contributes to business development. And this gives dealerships tremendous opportunities.
Form Follows Function, Always.
You need to lay the groundwork for a Business Development Dealership (BDD) that works. The structure will vary based on the needs of your dealership. But if your foundation is faulty, you won’t produce long term growth and sustainability for your dealership. So before doing anything else, address the underlying conditions that got you to this point.
- Are you hiring the right people with the right skillset?
- Have you equipped your teams to develop business across departments?
- Has your management team put effective processes in place?
- What is your approach with building relationships with customers across mediums?
When your staff unites under one collective effort, and everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing, you create a seamless consumer experience. And in a business where we sell the same product as countless other dealerships down the street, selling the experience is critical.
Make this your motto: one team, shared success. And it’s going to take a lot more than remembering and reiterating it. Everyone at the dealership will need to practice business development until it is ingrained into your dealership culture. You have to continuously reinforce it and help it grow by developing everyone’s business development skills.
Also, building a successful Business Development Dealership in today’s world is going to take a little help from our friend, the Internet.
Technology is an Enabler, Leverage It.
There’s no question. Dealers are becoming more reliant on software and technology to run their businesses. Nearly all dealership processes and customer interactions are wrapped into systems like CRMs. Unfortunately, with all the money spent on these tools, many dealerships don’t leverage them to their fullest capabilities.
When you review your customer dashboard, do you feel like you know Sally? She’s the single mom with two kids who has already bought 3 vehicles from you, all SUVs. If you can’t tell her apart from Johnny, the recent college graduate who recently traded in his 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage, you’re doing it wrong.
And don’t forget, your digital strategy drives car buying and service appointment activity. Today’s consumers are actively looking for engagement opportunities online. So, don’t be afraid to leverage technology to its full potential and socialize with consumers online. Your dealership staff has more potential customers in the queue than they’re currently reaching, I guarantee it.
Vendors, you’re in the BDD, too. From website and live chat providers to marketing agencies, your partners are customer facing and impact revenue. It’s your job to ensure vendor objectives align with your business development goals because if they’re not, chances are they’re costing you money as well. For example, do your dealership vendors:
- Ensure you’re compliant with FTC regulations and brand guidelines?
- Proactively communicate with your dealership about monthly results?
- Show they’re invested in your success by giving you options?
You don’t have to go at it alone either. We’re fortunate to work in an industry that’s both innovative and collaborative. Check out the forums, invest in BDC training and workshops, and set your team up for success! With the right mindset, the right vendors, and the right processes in place, you can incorporate a business development culture at your dealership.
Join David Kain and Todd Smith for “Building a Business Development Dealership” at the 22nd Digital Dealer Conference & Expo this April 11-13th in Tampa, FL. By attending their session, you’ll learn how to set your dealership up for growth by building a comprehensive business development culture across all departments in your dealership. To learn more dealership sales strategies and insight register now for the Digital Dealer Conference & Expo.
Author: Todd Smith
Todd Smith began in the business washing cars and eventually worked his way up to the General Manager of a multi-store group. When the Internet first launched in the car business in 1995-1996, Todd was there looking for ways to figure out how to use it within the dealership. It wasn’t until 1998 that Todd wrote the manual “Automotive retailing on the Internet”, which helped dealerships understand how to take advantage of the Internet as a business. Through the years Todd has worked alongside manufacturers, large dealer groups, single point dealerships, and automotive community vendors. Todd is an active speaker at many industry events helping dealerships understand how to leverage technology to achieve sales and organizational goals.