13 Keys to BDC Failure

Follow this advice to guarantee your business development center is doomed before it launches.

November 2014, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Greg Wells

I may be biased, but it seems like a lot of dealers either started a business development center this year or are planning to launch one in 2015. If you are among them, this article is for you.

But this isn’t your typical “how-to” article. The editors of Auto Dealer Monthly asked me to list all the ways dealers can unwittingly sabotage their BDCs. When I got the call, I grinned from ear to ear. Nobody wants to see an enterprise fail, but we have to have fun and laugh at ourselves once in a while.

So with tongue planted firmly in cheek, here are 13 ways to make sure your BDC fails.

13. Don’t Bother Hiring a Dedicated BDC Manager.

Want to save some money? Just put a couple people on the phone and add “BDC” to your sales manager’s job title. They can run the new department when they’re not working deals, completing dealer trades, coaching salespeople, trying to get deals cleaned up, talking to customers, putting out fires in the service department, helping the office track down information, going to meetings, reporting sales, keeping up with incentives and keeping the lot straight and the showroom standing tall. Yep, that ought to work.

12. Buy a Bunch of Leads to Get Things Going.

On Day One, bombard your agents with third-party leads. That way they can spend all their time leaving voicemails and sending emails to customers who don’t know who you are, aren’t ready to set an appointment and are quickly becoming annoyed by all the calls and emails from your store.

Your agents will neither work good leads properly nor be able to keep up with all the tasks being created in the CRM. They will constantly struggle to keep their heads above water. Quality interactions will be few and far between. By Day Three, your managers will say the BDC team doesn’t know what they’re doing.

11. Practice Nepotism and Favoritism.

Hire a manager and agents based on whose aunt, uncle, son, daughter, brother, sister, mom or dad already work for you. Don’t bother with the whole interview process for the people who will talk to more customers than anyone else in the dealership. Fill these important roles with employees who are not accountable and can’t be fired.

10. Don’t Let Them Use the Internet.

Make sure your BDC agents’ computers don’t have Internet access. That will keep them off Facebook and email (unless they have a phone). They don’t really need to access your website or third-party websites. The inability to confirm and respond to the information your customers find online won’t hurt their chances of setting an appointment.

9. Just Put Them Anywhere.

Your BDC team can set up wherever you have room, such as unused storage space or next to the water heater. They will better appreciate their breaks, when they can get some fresh air and search for new jobs.

8. Have Your Agents Set Appointments for Individual Salespeople.

Why make your sales manager distribute appointments? By giving your BDC agents that responsibility, you can be sure your sales team will climb over each other trying to curry favor and work side deals.

7. Keep Them Guessing.

Don’t keep your BDC manager updated on specials, promotions, incentives or current inventory. Also, bar the entire team from attending sales meetings and don’t introduce them to new salespeople or managers. Conversely, let the BDC’s processes remain a mystery to your sales team. One has nothing to do with the other.

6. Pay Them Well for Showing Up.

Performance-based pay plans are overrated. Start your agents off with a guaranteed income that outpaces most of your veteran frontline employees. They will never know, because nobody discusses their pay in the workplace.

5. Don’t Train Your BDC Agents or Give Them Any Feedback.

Your entire BDC training program should consist of four words: “Just get them in.” Tell them to answer every call and respond to every Internet lead, then walk away. They’ll figure out the rest.

4. Exclude the BDC Manager From Planning Sessions.

When you are strategizing, planning and trying to develop more business, don’t involve your business development manager. Why make those meetings any longer? You’ve got cars to sell!

3. Minimize Your BDC Manager’s Authority.

Don’t empower your manager to run their department with the people and processes of their choosing. Hire and fire whomever you want and let the sales team dictate the way leads are handled.

2. Penalize the Commission on BDC sales.

If a salesperson makes a sale to a BDC appointment, make the mini smaller, decrease the commission or increase the pack. This will really motivate salespeople to help the BDC. Don’t worry, they won’t find ways to take the BDC out of the deal.

1. Don’t Enforce the CRM Process in the Showroom.

If everyone constantly updates the CRM, your BDC manager will have to find something else to do besides chase data, correct mistakes, figure out why reports aren’t accurate, merge duplicates, manually tabulate which appointments showed, who bought and who helped them.

You may be wondering where all these ideas for making a BDC fail come from. Is it my experience as a consultant? Is it all the stories I’ve heard in the dealerships I visit? Nope. These are all mistakes I have made personally. At some point, a dealer or manager and I agreed they were good ideas and suffered the results.

But I learned from those mistakes, and after eliminating all the bonehead ideas, I came to this conclusion: Everything we do creates chemistry or conflict — with our customers, other departments and even among the BDC staff. Chemistry is the way to go.

The way we do business is changing rapidly. I believe the new normal lends itself to the BDC model. But you have to hire the right people and put a good coach in charge of the team. A cheerful environment is important. Quality computers, phones, headsets and even twin monitors aid production and effectiveness.

Great BDC dealers — and there are many — generate quality leads and keep the CRM humming. They insist on constant training for the entire team and provide whatever feedback they need to hone their skills and produce great results. They also recognize that, as important as the BDC manager is to the success of business development, the sales and service managers’ roles are equally important. Their support and helpfulness is invaluable.

Be passionate about business development or don’t bother. It’s a lot of work. A BDC requires constant monitoring and, if it flops, you will lose a lot of money. You can be a great BDC dealer. You just can’t wing it.

Greg Wells is president of AllCall Automotive Contact Center. He is a 25-year industry veteran and a nationally recognized expert in BDC and Internet sales. [email protected]


  1. 1. Tammy Lutsko [ December 10, 2014 @ 12:30PM ]

    Thank you so much for this Article on BDC! In early 2006 I was hired to work in a BDC doing all the internet leads, although this dealership was well establish in the call center part of the BDC they had just expanded to the internet. I had never worked at dealership or BDC before so it was the blind leading the blind. Soon the leads became over 400+ a month and I was drowning they turned to the other BDC reps. Then 2008 came along and they shut down the BDC altogether, it didn't take me long to find another BDC to work for but this dealership had old school managers and wanted BDC to go away. Sad to say it did & I did too then 3 years later one of the sales rep called me saying they had new management & would I be interested in helping them get it going...I couldn't say Yes fast enough! I love the excitement and new changes everyday it's never the same boring job! Well we got it going then they fired the manager asked me to step into that roll...I really didn't want to and told them I will till they find someone else, the GM said no you will do just fine then they hired a new GM and this new one had only been with us 3 weeks I turned all my sales peoples bonuses we had the highest record of sale in those 2 weeks ever in that dealership 801units. He called me in the office and let me go and said his sales manager will be handling that department. I haven't been back to any BDC department but what you said in your article is very true and it really does happen. I would never know about new Ads or Sales unless I would look for them myself to keep my people informed. I would go back in a heart beat to a BDC if I could find a dealership that really knows how to run one and all managers were on board with it.

  2. 2. Ric McCoy [ December 17, 2014 @ 02:14PM ]

    Great post Greg... Was great to see you at #DSES.

  3. 3. Ric McCoy [ December 17, 2014 @ 02:15PM ]

    Hello Tammy Lutsko... Give me a shout so we can connect.


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