Article

The Lack of Consistent Accountability

September 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Harlene Doane - Also by this author

According to NCM, “We are seeing a trend in twenty groups related to BDCs. Experienced sales managers are increasingly becoming involved in the day-to-day management of a dealership’s BDC/CRM operation.”

Instead of hiring someone from outside the dealership to run the BDC, dealers are promoting a successful and effective sales manager to that position. The rationale is that the BDC is a sales function. The properly-run sales department has structured sales processes that are followed with every customer. Scripts are taught and used, and there is some level of follow-up expected. The BDC needs the exact same attention. The sales manager has experience in managing that activity and knows how to handle a TO.

Why is this trend happening? Dealers, frustrated with the results in the BDC, are trying to solve what they believe is a management problem. However, the root of the problem may be much deeper. The problem lies in a widespread lack of discipline and accountability that doesn’t discriminate among franchise or independents. For example, many publicly-held companies rarely have a traffic problem. Instead they have process problems that let much of the traffic fall through the cracks, or they settle for the low-hanging fruit that anyone can pick off.

Smaller dealerships can experience the exact same thing when salespeople start pre-qualifying customers instead of setting appointments. Without strong processes that are consistently followed, all the traffic in the world won’t matter.

How did we get to this point? Look at how the BDC has evolved. Many dealers have had special finance and Internet departments for some time. Some items between the departments tend to overlap. For example: Is a third-party special finance Internet lead something for the special finance department to track, or is it tracked by the Internet department? For most dealerships it is tracked by the special finance department. But what if a dealership Web site lead is generated by a special finance customer; who tracks that?

Now add in a BDC. If a dealer Web site generates a lead from a special finance trigger (say, a credit application) on the site and it goes to the BDC to set an appointment, who is tracking the lead? It tends to get lost in a finger-pointing lack-of-accountability circle. Someone has to ultimately be responsible for gathering all data in a consistent format for a dealer to evaluate.

The lack of accountability is so widespread that in a recent month, only six of 20 members in an NCM Twenty Group reported their Internet activity for their monthly composite. Many dealers struggle with who should track and measure what, but that’s no excuse for not doing it.

So, what if you track too much or have overlap? If after six months you find that you don’t have any use for some of the data or it overlaps, eliminate some of it. It’s much easier to eliminate something you don’t need than it is to ask for data you didn’t compile. Odds are, if you have some overlap in tracking, you will find discrepancies, which will be an excellent way to uncover deficiencies in your processes.

It’s been said more than once that you can’t improve if you don’t measure your performance. It’s time for dealers to make someone accountable for tracking and measuring accurate performance data related to operations so they can maximize every opportunity for increasing net profits, because it’s not likely to come from an increase in overall vehicle sales this year.

Vol 5, Issue 7

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