At auto dealerships across the country, BDCs are changing the way organizations identify customers online and bring them into the showroom to close a sale. What does that job look like? How does BDC management bridge the gap from digital to foot traffic? What struggles do they face? We recently spoke with two BDC (business development center) experts in the auto industry to learn more about their day-to-day work, their approach to generating and closing leads, and the most prevalent struggles they face in accomplishing their goal of driving qualified leads to their sales teams. Alexander Davis is the BDC Manager at Cardinal Honda in Groton, Connecticut. Nathaniel Rosario serves as an Internet Sales Representative for Hudson Honda in West New York, New Jersey.
Davis and Rosario offered two unique perspectives on BDC management and paint a familiar picture of their BDC management roles.
What is your job at your dealership?
For both Davis and Rosario, the broader mission of a BDC department is focused solely on one task: convert Internet leads into sales appointments.
Basically, what we do every day is contact customers who inquire online and submit information,” says Rosario, who is one member of a larger Internet team at Hudson Honda dedicated to this task. “I come in when it’s time to contact them.”
Davis expanded on this, explaining what he does as soon as he’s able to make contact as the BDC Manager and leader of his dealership’s Internet operations. “I answer Internet and phone leads, and my goal is to set appointments. That might mean a test drive, or a scheduled time to meet with one of our sales representatives.”
How do you engage website visitors to capture quality leads?
Of course, before BDC management can make direct contact with a lead, they have to use the digital tools available to them to capture information about interested visitors. This lead generation can start anywhere online, and both Davis and Rosario are familiar with utilizing their own dealership websites as well as third-party platforms to find people looking to make a purchase.
“We do a lot of Facebook retargeting to display ads to people who have visited our website,” Davis says. “We also promote our inventory on third-party sites like Edmunds, and see a fair amount of leads come through that way. Of course, there’s also a lot of care put into our own website, where we’re able to collect information from visitors slowly, learn about their interests, and customize our presentation until they give us contact information so we can reach out.”
Rosario also touted his website’s chat feature, which is an important method for his Internet department to make contact with visitors before they’ve even decided to take a quiz or fill out a form. “We have an application we use that … can engage visitors with a chat dialogue to ask them what they’re looking for or how we can help.”
As a BDC manager or Internet sales rep, what challenges do you face in capturing leads?
For both of our experts, one resounding message came across when we asked them about their daily struggles: Internet leads are only as good as your ability to actually make contact with them.
“Internet leads are only as good as your ability to actually make contact with them.”
The major challenge for BDC management in today’s market is learning how to use a light touch and a personal approach in order to get web visitors to respond to an email, to pick up the phone and to make the trip to the auto dealership.
Rosario faces this challenge daily and understands the need for strong messaging. “100% my biggest challenge is getting people on the phone. That’s the most difficult part. Our department is investing a lot in training to help us develop better verbiage and better conversational approaches to leaving our voicemails and asking leads to schedule an appointment.”
Davis also dreads the unresponsive Internet lead and has learned to do as much as he can to learn more about every website visitor’s preferred method of communication, and to give them a gentle, yet multi-faceted, path forward to engaging with him and his sales team. “When we first reach out, we tend to email first, then make a phone call, and then send a text message.”
Success for BDC managers, it seems, depends on their ability to cast a wide net online, and to learn as much as possible about online visitors in order to convert them into leads. The key to bringing those online leads into the dealership is personalizing their digital experience.
By engaging with online visitors through interactive web experiences, BDC managers can capture how those visitors prefer to be contacted, how soon they plan to make a purchase, whether they have a trade, and more. Each piece of information like this will help BDC managers give online visitors a more personalized experience, which will in turn give those BDC managers even more tools to help convert online visitors to car buyers.