After seeing the tremendous success that my last series of blogs "Transforming the Dealership" has brought in terms of visibility and feedback I have decided to start a new series to focus strictly on the BDC. As a dealership trainer and consultant I am sure having an amazing fall and winter season this year because I am working with dealerships on extended full time projects. I am talking about wrapping up my sleeves, putting in the hours, creating magic, and not forgetting where I came from. My biggest fear is always that one day I will have been out of retail for so long that I will be out of touch of reality. There are a lot of people out there doing what I do (or trying to) that have lost that touch of reality. An example of that is easily seen when you ask them certain questions only to find that they look to avoid them every chance they get because they have no real answers. I know this because I attend and speak at my share of conferences and I hear what the dealers are complaining about. They always tell me “Well, when is that last time this guy was in my shoes that they are telling me I need to do this and this? Do they even know what I am dealing with?”
My goal is to help the industry and be as real as I can be so that I can relate to the dealer and truly understand what they are needing help with. Since I am still in the beginning stages of growing my company I have decided to dig deep and really place an even bigger focus on the clients and opportunities that I currently have by putting in the hours, trying new ideas, making the "old school" basics work with the new in dealerships 5 days a week. I have to tell you that this is fun. Some days I feel like I did 6 years ago learning something new and exciting while other days I feel that my experience is letting me getting things fixed and accomplished faster.
So let's begin with this transformation, shall we?
Remember the article that I recently wrote, "The Internet Manager of 2013"? Well this is the dealership we are going to talk about.
We start out by discovering the BDC room consists of 3 people (1 Manager and 2 Internet Coordinators). The three people are in a small room with 3 computers, 3 phones, 1 printer, and barely any room to let any air out (if you know what I mean). They have a great working relationship and do what they can to get the job done. Everyone is mature and there is no need to make any Human Resource changes. I see nothing but opportunity. Here is a BDC that produces an average of 2-3 appointments every day during the week and 5 on a Saturday.
Here are the focuses in order (for now):
1) Establish CRM access and evaluate the CRM. The CRM is ADP CRM.
2) Establish lead source providers and where they are going.
3) Establish the process in which all internet leads are being followed up.
4) Review all email templates within the process that has been previously setup.
5) Listen to all outgoing phone calls in the room from all 3 of the people.
6) Find out what guidelines the OEMs are expecting the dealer to follow (remember 2 different brands). Thankfully I am familiar with one brand and the other brand does not have much of a focus as of yet so I am free to create my masterpiece.
7) Learn the demographics of the buyers and shoppers. This one is easy because I worked in this market selling cars and understand the buyer demographics very well.
There is a lot more to fix and we will discuss over the next few parts.
These first 7 steps explained to me everything that I need to know about the management of the dealership, the level of the people working, the financial budgeting, and where their flaws are. It would take me 1.5 weeks to really fix some of the major problems that I discovered.
Problem 1) all three people log in as the manager and work the same leads.
Problem 2) There is no set guideline on how to handle leads; they just split up who they are calling on any given day.
Problem 3) The email server is very weak and accepts most of the email templates as spam. We are sending out emails and there is no email engagement going on because customers are not responding.
Problem 4) There is an ILM process but it only lasts about 2-3 weeks.
Problem 5) One member of the team is new but a powerhouse on the phone but needs guidance to learn the industry. Other members of the team need guidance and lessons to improve what they are doing. Again, the potential in this 3 person team is phenomenal.
Here is the solution:
1) Every member gets their own log in and email address in the dealership. However, they will not start using it until I set up the leads to go out in a round robin style based on work schedule.
2) I quickly implemented the "Dealer eTraining" standard process but only kept it to 150 days this time especially since one of the brands only requires 90 days. The process again includes value building, selling the online reputation of the store (which is decent by the way), and incorporating engaging questions to generate call backs and email responses.
3) It is unfortunate for the dealership but I delete every picture and logo from all of the emails and do a hard check on every single template through various sources to ensure that there is no spam in the email. In fact, here is a neat source that I used "http://www.emailspamtest.com". Unfortunately this CRM does not have a good way to check for spam. I kept the emails all in text.
4) The process was setup with proper phone calls and emails to be scheduled.
5) I worked with the people on their phone skills. They needed to learn certain things that they should never say and pick up some powerful word tracks that I normally would use. They are starting to transition that way.
It has been about 2.5 weeks since I have worked with them. Our email engagement has improved drastically. Customers are writing back and starting a conversation that has been escalating to the phone. This means we are improving out connections with the customers. We still have days when we start a day with 2 appointments on the board yet finish the day with 4-7. Last Saturday, the BDC created 12 appointments and had 8 show, 3 sold with 2 more potential deals to happen by Christmas.
Now, this in no way is a pat on the back. We have much more work to do. The websites need a lot of work. We need to improve how we gather reviews for the dealership. We need to create a strong process for handling unsold showroom traffic. We get leads from one of the brands that allow the opportunity for retention with customers that have 10 year old vehicles. This process needs to be polished as well. I want to see this dealership average 8-10 appointment every day during the week and 20 for a Saturday. Based on the opportunity that I see this dealership should grow the BDC sales from roughly 30 units to around 50 or 60 per month. As processes tighten up and proper changes are made, I would not be surprised if they did even better. I believe that I have only accomplished only 15-20% of what I want to accomplish here.
This is a small department operating on a low budget. For the dealerships that think they need to invest too much money to make it work, just think again. It is true that when you invest more you have better opportunity and better trained people making things happen. However, everyone has to start somewhere and starting on a low budget can ultimately grow an empire that can grow the spending and reap the rewards.
Over the next few weeks I will have more parts to this epic story. For now, please enjoy this, pass it on to our industry, and please comment.
By the way, if you are looking to learn about some these strategies you can see me speak at Jim Ziegler’s Internet Battle Plan in Atlanta, GA on January 16-17, 2013. I will also be speaking at the upcoming Digital Marketing Strategies Conference prior to the NADA Convention in Orlando, FL on February 5-7, 2013.