June 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
What it takes to Make it Happen
“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing—the result.” – Vince Lombardi
Okay, I get it. I really do! It is about the result. When I took over the special finance department at the dealership a few years back, I had my work cut out for me. I took the saying, “Choose your battles wisely,” seriously and I began with a huge to-do list. There was much on my plate at the time, so the best way for me to tackle the BDC issue was to outsource. My department had all of its Internet- generated leads funneled into the outsourced company’s portal, and they would do all of the outbound calls, answer e-mail questions and set appointments. When I chose the CRM system for the department, I did keep in mind that I would eventually be bringing the BDC home. It was an important factor in picking the system that was right for us.
The company we used did an excellent job, so bringing the BDC in-house later was not done because it failed; it was because my department’s needs had changed. We wanted to use a system that allowed us to maximize a smaller number of salespeople, or as we so fondly call them, Loan Origination Advisors (LOAs). We could sell more cars with less manpower.
Currently having our BDC in-house allows additional tasks to be handled within the dealership. It manages both the subprime and prime portals for our appointment-only department. That includes outbound calls for Internet leads and for our own Web leads, direct mail responses and inbound calls. The LOAs perform these tasks when they are available, but the BDC handles the bulk of the work. The BDC is responsible for contacting customers, cleaning up missing or inaccurate information on applications, e-mailing responses, and setting appointments. The BDC also confirms all appointments each day. We prefer that the person who sets the appointment not verify it the appointment. We have found that having a second person call validates the appointment and provides the applicant an opportunity to voice any new concerns. Appointment shows have increased since we instituted this practice.
Being the initial greeter for the customer is another special job the BDC performs at our dealership. We ask the customer to contact us from their cell phone when they arrive. Then, we meet them at their car and escort them into the department so they do not feel lost or “attacked” by salespeople just trying to do their jobs. The BDC will then do a smooth T.O. by introducing the customer to a loan origination advisor, seated them and offering a beverage. The customer feels more at ease and the process of the sale is initiated in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
The BDC department is structured with a manager who is the point person and, in our case, two other employees who work between 25 and 32 hours a week. It is very important that we have phone coverage at all times, but when mail drops hit, we make sure we double up phone coverage during the first two days because the phones ring non-stop. That certainly is not a complaint; we like it when things get insane!
An effective pay plan for a BDC is based on appointments and appointments sold. I always suggest an hourly wage or a salary be paid, as well as appointment-show and/or appointment-sold spiffs. The manager should receive a spiff on every appointment set by the BDC; it keeps that person very motivated to have a hand on everything. I am sure there are many other ways to set up a BDC pay plan, but this seems to work well for us.
When we brought the BDC in-house, we increased the vehicle pack to compensate for the extra expense to the department. So, to afford the luxury of the BDC, it had to make financial sense. The salespeople were not very excited about the increase in the pack until they saw the financial results in their paychecks. Then, they were able to recognize the value of pumping out more cars with reduced phone time required of them. However, don’t be misguided; these guys must still pound the phones to get the job done! A successful sales program demands that all departments work hand-in-hand.
So, whether you outsource your BDC or build a team within your dealership, one thing is crystal clear: the BDC is worth all the work it takes to put it into action. Properly managed, a system with strong leadership will produce the result by which you will be judged: a healthy increase in sales and profit that translates into awesome paychecks for all, from the principal owner right down to the sales staff.
Special Finance Insider Vol. 2, Issue 2