As consumers use the web to research and compare vehicles, they come into the dealership more empowered and knowledgeable than ever before. At the same time, sites like Amazon and Google have given today’s customers a taste for highly personalized experiences, and that human touch is as important as ever for dealers looking to close a sale.
Just as sales teams have invested heavily in their showrooms to make them warm and comfortable for customers, dealerships have come to realize the importance of making their digital presence just as inviting and personal.
To bridge the gap between the web and the showroom floor, many dealerships have begun hiring BDC managers, or business development center managers (sometimes also referred to as Internet managers).
These customer service experts are increasingly mission-critical to the modern dealership. So, what is a BDC manager and what is their role within an organization?
What is a BDC Manager?
The concept of a business development center originally rose out of the more familiar customer service center, or CSC. Staffed by customer service representatives (CSR), CSCs have traditionally functioned similarly to the customer service departments of other types of companies.
CSRs would field customer questions and complaints, call local consumers to offer special deals, and work to give sales representatives a steady source of leads. For many dealers, the CSC has matured into the BDC, whose job is to focus even more specifically on generating leads through inbound marketing methods.
“BDC and Internet managers are important because they allow you to get information to your clients fast and allow you to scale processes,” says David Idell, Internet Director at Sunset Honda in San Luis Obispo, California. “It’s important that our message online is consistent with all of our other sales messages. If we have a promotion for 0% financing then we need that message to match online, in the newspaper, on the phone messages, in the emails, etc., and I expect my Internet manager, Internet sales reps and all sales staff to convey that same message to our clients.”
That general function of a BDC manager—capturing inbound leads and converting to sales—is performed in a variety of ways from dealership to dealership (tweet this). Here are a few formats in which a BDC is run:
1. Sales Team: In some organizations, dedicated sales representatives might be responsible for fielding calls and Internet inquiries and either working those leads directly, or handing them off to other sales reps.
2. In-House BDC Management: Other organizations have BDC Managers in house whose job it is to handle both inbound and outbound leads and to schedule appointments with sales reps. Larger dealerships may have entire departments dedicated to this task.
3. Centralized BDC: Organizations with multiple locations or OEMs might have one centralized BDC team processing inbound leads and distributing them to sales reps from one location to the next.
How do BDC Managers Support Today’s Dealerships?
While the concept of a BDC was first developed well over a decade ago, it has become more mainstream in recent years. In the same period, technology has become more sophisticated, and consumers have come to rely less on sales calls and flyers, and more on the Internet to research their purchases. In fact, according to Forbes, nearly half (46%) of retailers believe that customers prefer to use the Internet to research major purchases, but still like to make those purchases in person (tweet this stat).
By intelligently managing databases, offers and the calls to action that display on the dealership website, BDC managers can also organically move site users closer and closer to showroom visits using digital finance forms, payment calculators, customer interest questionnaires to help them narrow their vehicle choice, and even test drive scheduling tools.
By giving Internet users an easy and approachable research experience, modern BDC managers are fulfilling their mandate to serve their sales teams with plenty of leads. More than that, though, leads generated by BDCs are better qualified and more likely to make a purchase by the time they shake a sales rep’s hand.
Idell says the biggest challenge for BDCs and Internet managers is time management. “There’s always something to fix, to update, to train staff on, and not enough time in the day,” he says, and recommends looking at your staff and promoting from within — someone who you know is going to be hardworking. “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”
It’s important to remember that different organizations utilize BDC managers (and even BDCs themselves) in different ways to complement their team and their approach to customer service. One thing is certain, however… As the web continues to dominate the way we make purchasing decisions, the consumer’s need for increased personalization online is only going to increase.
Learn more: Check out PERQ’s Q&A with BDC Management!