Riverside Ford in Tulsa, Oklahoma had internet lead conversion rates similar to most franchise dealerships in America. They were hovering between 10%-15% at their Ford store, their Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, & Ram store, and at their RV store. However, Business Development Director Darin Callison had a grander vision.
Callison and his team worked incredibly hard to improve their conversion numbers by bringing in so-called BDC training experts, replacing underperforming team members, and trying different calling strategies – but nothing changed.
Turnover in their BDC department was never ending. They would hire BDC reps, train them, spend thousands of dollars in salaries, commissions, and bonuses, only to have the reps either not work out, or take the training they had received and leave for another dealership offering them another $0.50 cents an hour.
“We were going through BDC reps every 3-4 months, and the recruiting process is really expensive. We were constantly running job board ads, taking time out of our days to conduct interviews, paying for background checks, and then absorbing training costs – only to see our new hires either not work out or leave for another dealership.”, said Callison.
Callison also realized his stores were absorbing other costs that could be viewed as hidden costs to many in leadership positions.
“I really started analyzing our lead conversion costs with a fine-tooth comb. In addition to the costs that you see every week when you look at your budget – things like salaries, commissions, and bonuses, we also had hidden costs that no one was really thinking about. I realized that not only were we forking over paychecks for underperforming reps, we were also paying for things like Workman’s Comp Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, FICA and Medicare. The true cost of running the department was staggering. We really needed to change something – fast!”, Callison said.
Callison’s next move was to analyze their technology. They were working with one of the best CRM systems in the industry, but Callison didn’t believe the follow up process their technology offered was sufficient. He also didn’t think his team was following the process.
Callison said, “Our CRM is awesome. We’re able to toggle between stores and navigate our system with the click of a mouse. I can pull up any information I need in seconds, but the follow up tools for our internet leads just aren’t enough – and I also knew our team wasn’t following protocol. I would notice tasks being ignored. Follow up calls were being missed. Leads were being called at the same time each day instead of being tried at different times of the day. Our appointments weren’t ‘really’ being confirmed – we were calling to confirm our set appointments, but we were really only leaving voicemail messages. We discovered that 80%-90% of all calls go to voicemail. People just don’t answer their phones anymore. So, if we were only making one call to confirm each appointment – that means 80%-90% of our appointments were not being confirmed!”.
Callison began searching for a better way to convert his stores leads. He searched the internet by looking in forums, conducting searches, asking other dealerships for help. He even brought the topic up in his 20-Group meeting. Then, he finally discovered a solution. Callison found an outsourced BDC company with the most amazing technology for contacting leads and scheduling appointments he had ever seen. It was everything he had been searching for – and more, and it turned out to be a game changer.
Callison started off slowly. He first contracted his Ford store and tested the technology. The results were immediate, and they were mesmerizing.
“We went from a 15% conversion rate to north of 40% in just a few weeks. It was amazing. I immediately signed up our sister store and their conversion rates did the same thing. We had increased both stores by about 150%, and we were saving a fortune at the same time. We also eliminated the need for recruiting and training, and we ended our employee turnover issue once and for all. Not to mention, our managers didn’t have to deal with leads not being worked because someone came in late, or left early, or didn’t come in at all. Our leads were finally being worked from 8:30AM-8:00PM without fail. Outsourcing our lead conversion was a game changer.”, said Callison.
Then, the General Manager of his RV dealership heard about the changes at their automotive stores and wanted in on the action.
“I was talking about our numbers in our weekly leadership meeting and our GM from our RV store was in the room – he nearly fell out of his chair when I shared the results from our two stores that were using the program. He instantly wanted to bring them on-board at his RV store, and the results were even better over there. In addition to setting appointments, the company we contracted with also ‘Hot Transfers’ customers directly to our sales team when they get them on the phone. This was huge for our RV store, because many of our RV customers are located throughout the country – they’re just too far away to come in to the store, so most of our deals are done over the phone. All we really needed was someone to chase them down and get them on the phone with our sales team, and BDC Bandits did that for us. Our sales rose immediately.”, Callison said.
BDC Bandits is the industry leader in lead conversion for franchise and independent automotive dealers, RV dealers, and motorcycle & boat dealers. Their technology and team make 52-contact attempts to each lead over 30-days using a mix of calling, texting, and e-mailing. But, the secret to their success is really their proprietary algorithms that drive the calling, texting, and e-mailing cadences to stagger the attempts throughout the day, week, and month.
Callison said, “The BDC Bandits technology is so far advanced above anything we had even seen. Their system serves up the leads to be called, text, and e-mailed at different times of the day on different days of the week. Each lead is attempted in the early morning, late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, in the evening, and on Saturdays. They absolutely leave no stone unturned. When there is a time of rest from calling, a text goes out, when there’s no call or text going out an e-mail message goes out. Believe me, if your lead isn’t reached after 30-days of BDC Bandits chasing them – no one was going to reach them. But just to make sure, we often use BDC Bandits to run a Ringless Voicemail campaign or a GEO-Fencing program just in case that one final attempt can bring the customer into the store. They do a great job of combining their BDC Call Center services with their other marketing programs – and BDC Bandits Call Center clients get a nice discount off their Ringless Voicemail and GEO-Fencing programs – so we’re saving even more money.”
To learn more about BDC Bandits visit www.BDCbandits.com or call them directly at 800-250-6512.To contact Darrin Callison, call Riverside Ford at (918) 445-6700
Many of my conversations with owners and GM’s of both franchise and independent dealerships tend to go down the same road. They all want to know how to fix their ailing BDC (Business Development Center) Departments. And, rightfully so. Let’s be honest, your BDC Department is the first point of contact with your customer base, and without a highly productive BDC – you are throwing thousands of marketing dollars down the drain.
Here are three surefire ways to improve your BDC and get the most out of your marketing dollars.
Develop a robust call-back strategy for new internet leads
Make confirmation calls, no-show calls, and unsold traffic calls a priority
Develop your BDR’s (Business Development Reps) in to highly qualified communicators
Step one is the most difficult, because it requires technology, strategy, and discipline. Before we can create a strategy for calling our new internet leads, we must first understand what the main issue is.
85% of all first calls to internet leads go unanswered. The calls either go to voice mail, or are bad numbers. Most people won’t answer a call if they don’t recognize the number that is calling them. They end up letting the call go to voice mail, and then they listen to the voice mail and decide if it is a call they want to return or not. So, the question becomes – “How do we get the 85% on the telephone?”
First, you must develop a calling strategy that can be followed by your team. The strategy should include calls to each of your leads at different times of the day, on different days of the week. Your BDR’s should be attempting to contact your leads in the early morning, late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, early evening, on weekdays, and on weekends.
You see, you never know what time of day a customer will be available – so you need to try as many different time frames as possible. An example would be a school teacher. Most teachers start their day around 8:00am and are not free again until after 3:30pm. So, if you are calling them from early morning thru mid-afternoon – you will never reach them. A teacher will require a call in the late afternoon, early evening, or on a Saturday.
However, do not call in all of these different time zones on the same day. That would be harassing to anyone. Instead, mix it up over the course of week one. Then, continue to mix it up until you have determined the lead is dead.
You also might want to look in to a technology called Local Presence Dialing. This technology mimics the area code of the number you are calling and changes it every time you call your lead. They will see an area code that matches their area code, so you have a better chance of them answering the call simply out of curiosity. In addition, they can’t zero in on your number and ignore you because they know it’s your store calling them.
Step two is easy to implement, but it takes discipline to follow. Confirmation calls are the most underrated aspect of a BDC Department. Most dealerships confirm their set appointments, but they just don’t take it seriously enough.
Confirmation calls typically end with a BDR making one attempt to confirm an appointment, and they end up leaving a voice mail message. Leaving a voice mail message is not confirming an appointment – it’s leaving a voice mail message. You have confirmed NOTHING!
BDR’s should make more than one call to confirm an appointment. In fact, they should make as many calls as necessary to reach the customer and confirm the set appointment. If it takes, five calls – make five calls.
The same strategy should be implemented for calling no-shows. If a customer no-shows, keep calling them until you get them on the phone again. If they were interested enough to set an appointment in the first place, then they probably just need a slight nudge to get them back on the calendar. Don’t give up!
Now here is the secret – the BDR calling your new internet leads should NOT be the same BDR that makes your confirmation calls, no-show calls, and unsold traffic calls. This is the #1 mistake we see dealers making in their BDC Departments.
The role of a BDR has morphed in to a struggle of responsibilities. BDR’s are typically responsible for calling all new internet leads multiple times, confirming set appointments, calling no-shows, calling unsold traffic, emailing new leads, and texting new leads. This is WAY TOO MUCH for anyone to handle. I don’t believe there is a single person on the planet that could handle all of these responsibilities and perform them at a HIGH LEVEL. Could someone stumble through it and do an average to below average job? Sure. But, perform them at a high level and generate the results your store has to have? Not a chance.
So, you must have a dedicated BDR that focuses on confirming appointments, calling no-shows, emailing, and texting (in states where available). Also, let your sales team focus on calling unsold traffic. Your BDR set the appointment and your sales pro didn’t close the deal. So, let them call their unsold traffic. These should be the only calls your sales team has to make. And let’s be honest, your sales pros don’t want to make a lot of phone calls, and they are not very good at it anyway. But, they can call their unsold traffic. They already know the customer and should have built some sort of relationship with them – so these should be easy calls for them to make.
Lastly, make sure you hire excellent communicators. Be careful not to hire extremely young individuals who have yet to learn how to effectively communicate with experienced adults. We see too many dealers hire BDR’s in their early 20’s who have yet to learn how to communicate effectively with customers twice their age.
Many of these 20-somethings are also unreliable. They stay out late at the club then come to work late, or don’t come in at all. They miss work, don’t take the job seriously, and quit after 3-months – leaving you to replace them and re-train a new hire. We know they are inexpensive help – but they are not worth it. Spend a few extra dollars and hire experienced, quality individuals.
Be absolutely sure that your BDR’s are experienced, focused individuals who care about their performance and you’re store. And, make sure you are providing them communication training. You must do more than just train them on your CRM and phone system. You must role play calls with them, you must record their calls and coach them, and you must teach them techniques like tonality, proper questioning, listening, and what we like to call “phone couth”. Teach them how to be respectful and enthusiastic on the phone.Best of luck with your BDC and happy selling. – BDCbandits
1. 99% OF PEOPLE DRIVE A CAR BEFORE BUYING
2. 78% OF PEOPLE WHO VISIT A CAR LOT BUY
3. 85% OF PEOPLE DECIDE TO BUY A CAR BEFORE THEY EVER LEAVE HOME
4. 71% BUY BECAUSE THEY LIKE YOU AND TRUST YOU
5. 90% OF DECISIONS WILL BE INFLUENCED BY WOMEN
6. 30% OF BUYERS HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER ALSO PURCHASE A VEHICLE WITHIN 90-DAYS
7. 20 % OF BUYERS – VEHICLE FEATURES IS ALL THEY CARE ABOUT
8. 80% OF BUYING IS DONE IN THE 1ST FOUR STEPS OF THE SALES PROCESS
9. 50 % BUY ON THE SPOT IF GIVEN A GOOD DEMONSTRATION OF THE VEHICLE AND A FAIR PRICE
10. 86 % BUY A DIFFERENT MODEL, EQUIPMENT, OR COLOR THEN THEY ORIGINALLY ASKED FOR!
Three-Person BDC Department
Monthly Salary $5,760
FICA/Medicare Match $440
Health Insurance Coverage $1,500
Workman’s Comp $240
TOTAL MONTHLY COST $7,940
BDC Bandits Monthly Call Center Cost – $2,299 (Based on 350 leads per month)
A savings of $5,641 per month or $67,692 per year!
CALL US TOLL-FREE TODAY TO SIGN UP FOR BDC BANDITS SERVICES
Business Development Centers (BDC’s) across the country are failing miserably. I hear it every day from owners and General Managers, and it seems as though everyone is dealing with the exact same issues. Lead to appointment conversions are way down. Show rates are horrendous. Department turnover is off the charts, and department expenses are incredibly high. Everyone seems to have the same complaints, and they are all searching for answers.
We believe we can answer all of these questions, and provide solutions.
Lead to appointment conversions suffer from three significant dilemmas.
No clear cut procedural system for lead follow-up
Pre-conceived notions regarding lead quality
Poor communication skills
Let us tackle the first issue – No clear cut procedural system for lead follow-up.
BDC departments live out of their CRM systems. They scan for new leads, they call said leads and leave messages (87% of all first calls end in a voice mail message), and then they ‘attempt’ to schedule a follow-up call that they may or may not get to. In most cases, the follow-up never happens, and if it does – it’s not at the right time or on the right day. Even worse, – it’s often at the same time of day that the first call was made. There is no clear cut procedural system.
The main issue here is human intervention. When follow-up is left to humans, it can lead to bad decision making and poor timing.
If a Business Development Rep (BDR) had only one lead to call each week, follow-up would be simple. They could call the lead immediately, set a call back for an hour later, then set another one for the next morning, then set another one for that afternoon, then set another for later that evening. The following day they could set a call back for late morning, early afternoon, early evening. Then perhaps set two more for Saturday. All of this would be easy to manage – if they only had one lead to work. But they don’t. They have many.
BDR’s have hundreds and in some stores thousands of leads to work. Even when using the most robust CRM systems they cannot manage all of their follow-up calls. They get distracted with confirming appointments, calling no-shows, calling un-sold traffic, and sending e-mails and text messages. It is simply too much to juggle and too much to manage – especially for young professionals with little to no dealership or business world experience. And unfortunately, these are the people dealers have chosen to hire. Low income earners with little to no experience – who can be hired very inexpensively. Or at least that’s what dealers think.
BDR’s typically have salaries in the $22,000-$36,000 per year range depending on what part of the country you are in and what type of store you running. $1,800 – 3,000 a month doesn’t seem like a lot on the surface, but a closer look shows us that they are actually costing dealers much more than that.
Their inexperience is costing dealers appointments, and therefore – MONEY!
Many have not learned how to effectively communicate on the phone with prospective clients. They have not learned the psychology of a sales call. They don’t have the business acumen to convince a customer that their store is the #1 dealership in their area to purchase from. They don’t know how to overcome objections, they don’t know how to ask the appropriate questions, and perhaps most importantly – they don’t know how to listen. I once had an old wily veteran tell me early in my career, “The secret to sales is to keep your ears open and your mouth shut.”
Add in the cost of health insurance, FICA match, workman’s comp, unemployment insurance, 401(k) matches, recruiting costs to replace them when they quit after 3-months – and your BDC is bleeding money.
Now that we’ve touched on issues #1 and #3, let’s look at issue #2 – Pre-conceived notions regarding lead quality.
From the beginning of time, salespeople have developed pre-conceived notions regarding the quality of their leads. When the Romans were buying lions to challenge gladiators, you have to imagine there was a lion salesman gauging which one of the emperors constituents would pay more for his lions – and I’m sure he approached the one he felt he could take advantage of the most. But, what if he was wrong? How much gold did he stand to lose by chasing the wrong buyer?
BDR’s do the same thing. They analyze the lead by looking at the lead source, the address, the name of the person, and the car they are interested in. Then, they make a decision and determine which of their leads are more likely to set an appointment and take delivery of a vehicle. They call that lead with more determination than a lead that they feel is less valuable. But, what if they are wrong? How much money are they costing the dealership by chasing the wrong customer? Shouldn’t they chase them all with the same determination and intent?
You cannot possibly, with any accuracy, predict the future to determine if one lead will take delivery over another. It is impossible. But, BDR’s do it every day – and every day they burn up good leads by ignoring good customers who want to buy.
A BDR should go in to every call thinking that EVERY lead is a GOOD lead. Failure to do so is a travesty. Capable buyers will be left out and ignored while a BDR’s pre-judgement loses sales and costs everyone at the dealership money.
You must have a calling strategy that serves up the leads to your team in a manner that is smart, effective, and efficient. Your system must determine who gets called next, not your BDR.
You must make sure that your team has no pre-conceived notions regarding the quality of your leads, and you must have a team in place with excellent communication skills and plenty of auto industry experience. It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense.
At BDC Bandits, that is exactly what we have developed and exactly what we have been doing for years. We do it for nearly 100 dealers across the country every day. Our software system serves the leads up to our team of experienced callers in a scientific manner using a proprietary algorithm. Our callers have no say in what lead gets called next. Our system does that for them. They also have no pre-conceived notion regarding the quality of the lead. They cannot see the lead source, and all they know is that the person they are calling is interested in buying a new vehicle. Because of our technology and our people, we have grown to become the #1 lead to appointment conversion company in the automotive industry.
You can implement a system like ours at your store, with the right technology and the right people. You can also contact us for training and support, or you can bring us on-board as a partner and let us help your team. We will call your leads for you and we will increase your appointments and your show rate.There are solutions to your problems; you just have to be willing to open your eyes to new strategies and new technology. – BDC Bandits
Our company, BDC Bandits, works with dealers across the U.S. to improve BDC departments. We work closely with dealerships to improve lead to conversion rates and show rates. We speak with owners and General Managers about their struggles, concerns, and over-all lack of performance. Unfortunately, we often hear the same old stories – actually, we hear the same old three stories.
Depending on the size of the store, dealers are operating within the framework of three different models.
MODEL #1 – Smaller stores in rural areas tend to operate without a BDC department. They typically do not receive enough leads to cover the cost of a full-fledged BDC department. So, they use an old fashioned round robin system often managed by the GM or GSM. As internet leads come in to the store, a manager round robin’s the leads to the sales team and the sales team is responsible for calling, emailing, and texting the leads. They generate appointments for themselves.
MODEL #2 – Medium size stores often have an Internet Manager or Internet Director in place to manage their leads. This person is responsible for turning the leads in to appointments for the sales team.
MODEL #3 – Larger stores often have full-fledged BDC Department’s. They have a BDC Director, and a team of Business Development Reps (BDR’s) in place to contact their leads and either work them ‘Cradle To Grave’, where they are generating appointments for themselves and selling the cars themselves, or where they are generating appointments for the sales team out on the floor.
In our experience, there are major problems that exist with each model. Unfortunately, owners and GM’s are usually too busy to even realize what these problems are. So, they point fingers, demand better performance, demand more calls to be made, pay for expensive training, and change technology – all to no avail.
So, let’s talk about the issues with each model.
MODEL #1 – You’re sales team doesn’t want to call your leads! They don’t want to call them, they aren’t any good at it, and let’s be honest – they do a terrible job at follow-up. They will only make one or two calls to each lead, and then they’ll move on to the newest, hottest lead – and the lead that came in yesterday is long gone and totally forgotten about. But, it’s not their fault.
Why would you have your sales leaders calling your leads in the first place? It’s not their strong suit. They are not telemarketers or appointment setters. They are sales professionals. They should be focusing on what they ARE good at – showing and selling cars. Let someone else set appointments for them, and let them focus on what they do best – greet your customers, show the car, test drive the car, negotiate the price, and transition them to your F&I team.
MODEL #2 – Medium size stores using an Internet Manager/Director are struggling with ‘Burnout’. A typical Internet Manager/Director is simply overwhelmed from wearing too many hats, and they usually burnout as a result. This leads to lost opportunities, high turnover, additional training & recruiting costs, and instability at the store.
Internet Managers/Directors are responsible for contacting every lead by calling each lead, texting each lead, and emailing each lead to set as many appointments as possible. They are also responsible for confirming each appointment they set, calling no-show’s, and calling unsold traffic. After a few months, they realize that the job is way too big for any one person – and they quit.
MODEL #3 – Larger stores suffer from large BDC Departments that are inadequately staffed. Most owners and GM’s try to run their BDC Department’s ‘On The Cheap’. They hire 20-something’s between the ages of 20-29 who haven’t learned how to communicate effectively and have a limited work ethic.
Dealers feel that their BDC Department is a necessary evil. They view them as an expense that doesn’t warrant the cost. They know they have to have one, but they don’t truly see their value. So, they try to run them as inexpensively as possible. This results in hiring low cost, young, entry level employees who often do not care about their jobs or the dealerships they are employed by.
Because they are young and inexperienced, they have not developed the necessary communication skills to communicate with intelligent, experienced car buyers. They haven’t learned ‘telephone couth’. They haven’t learned how to ask the right questions, overcome objections, or use tonality. And, they haven’t learned the most important technique – listening.
Combine their lack of skill with their lack of work ethic, and you have a recipe for disaster. We’ve heard countless stories of BDR’s calling in late or calling out altogether after a night at the club. They often miss work or are late for work – and then ultimately quit after a few short months on the phone.
Dealers must realize that their Internet Manager/Director, BDC Director, BDR’s and sales team are the first point of contact for their stores. The very first interaction a customer will have is with this part of your team. Shouldn’t these employees be the strength of your team? Shouldn’t they make you proud and make your customers feel special?
The good news is that there is a solution to the problems being generating by all three models. Hire someone to do it for you and focus on doing what your team does best. Showing and selling cars. Let someone else manage you’re leads.
BDC Bandits has a fully staffed call center of experienced, reliable, and fully trained professionals. We also have a proprietary technology that calls each one of your leads at all different times of the day on different days of the week and weekends. If you allow a professional team like ours to set your appointments, you’re team can focus on confirming the appointments, calling no-shows, and selling cars.
Our most productive stores let us call their internet leads while they focus on emailing, confirming, and contacting no-shows and unsold traffic. Imagine how productive your team would be and how impressive your show rate would be if their focus was confirming appointments and calling no-shows.
Instead of only making one call to confirm an appointment, and leaving a voice mail message – they could actually make 2,3, or maybe 4 calls to confirm an appointment and actually get someone on the phone. They could build rapport, build a relationship, talk about rebates, incentives, promotions, etc. Your show rate will double. We see it every day.
Let BDC Bandits set your appointments. Moral at your store will go up and so will sales.See www.BDCBandits.com for more information or call us toll-free at 844-871-9195 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I’m saying and asking the same thing as other sales reps here in the office, but I’m not having the same success as they are. How is that possible?”
When creating a dialogue with a prospect and asking questions, if your tone is off, the sales call can go south, really fast. What you say and how you say it are both equally important.
Asking “IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS” Qualifying Questions
Identifying Problems Qualifying Questions are vital in the sales process. They are a series of questions that will establish if your prospect has an actual problem (whether they realized it before you asked or not). Most prospects will be more motivated to hearing a solution, once they recognize a problem.
Let’s say you sell a product or a service that helps companies’ complete projects on time. You know that a big hot button for your targeted audience is they need to avoid missing deadlines, because if they don’t, some uncomfortable conversations are going to happen.
So in this scenario, an example of an IDENTIFYING A PROBLEM qualifying question could be:
Does your team have deadlines to hit?
Now, there are at least two ways you can ask, “Does your team have deadlines to hit?”
One is in an eager tone (you’re practically drooling as you ask this question) and the other is in an “inquisitive concern” tone.
If your prospect feels your intent is anything but concern, YOU. ARE. DONE.
How to Ask With the Right Tone
Sometimes “sales” can be tough. Especially when your numbers are down, bills are piling up and management has a microscope on you. Asking questions with the right tone when you are in those circumstances can be a real challenge.
Here’s what I’ve found to be extremely helpful to make sure I have the right tone, no matter how much outside pressure is on me:
Simply pretend that the person on the other end of the phone was referred to you by your best friend and it’s their aunt or uncle. This will help you get your tone where it needs to be: In “help” mode. Not “sell” mode.
And when you are asking the right sales questions, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons, your prospects will open up, you’ll find solutions together and you’ll earn their business.
The tone of your voice can make a huge difference. If you were to say, “What’s the worst that could happen?” with a tone of despair – the person you are speaking to with immediately think Armageddon! But, if you say it with a tone of ridiculousness as if nothing bad is actually going to happen, they will let their guard down and realize that the worst that could possibly happen isn’t really that bad at all.
Remember, your voice is a tool. There is power in the way you phrase words and sentences. Use the tools you were blessed with and make a difference on every call. For more on Tonality please call us at 800-250-6512.