This post is the first in my “Automotive BDC Training” series. The BDC is the “Business Development Center” at a car dealership. In this post, you are going to be learning about the hiring, onboarding, and training of your new BDC.
Automotive BDC Training: Building a Team
When I started my dealerships BDC, I was faced with a lack of guidance on what to look for when building out my team. The GM of the store recommended I take a few of the underperforming sales reps, which I figured was a terrible idea. Why in the world would you take your worst reps and put them in such a crucial position!
We actually hired an outside consultant to help us build out our team and he was more useful. He brought us a decent BDC “rule book” and suggested that we poach BDC reps from other stores. This idea was appealing but harder to execute on.
The problem was who I could poach with our budget for pay. The best BDC reps from other stores were killing it and didn’t want to leave. These superstars wouldn’t really make more money at our dealer. Being superstars they also were treated very nicely by their managers and were generally happy.
This left us with the unhappy reps to poach. I interviewed a few reps from other stores, but the reasons they wanted to leave (personal disputes and manager disagreements) weren’t enticing. On top of that, these reps were often unclear on their monthly numbers. If your rep doesn’t know how many appointments they set last month and what tier they hit chances are they aren’t very money motivated.
So I looked outside of automotive, and in a month and a half had built my team. The reps we found were all from craigslist ad postings.
What to Look for When Finding New Reps
My partner and I did many interviews when hiring for our BDC. We narrowed down the key things we are looking for and distilled them into a simple list of nonnegotiables:
- Must have some sales experience and be actively money motivated (any industry ok!)
- Good phone voice (easy to tell during the phone screen before the in-person interview)
- Comfortable sitting for long periods
- Friendly with a personality that matches the vibe of the store
These 4 bullet points were a great starting point.
We also tried to make sure that the reps wouldn’t have too much ego. Ego would destroy the culture of our BDC. A little was ok!
Technical capabilities are also key. This is not a receptionist role, the reps need to be comfortable using different websites. They will be responsible for using your inventory management software to check on the availability of vehicles. They are going to be in the CRM every day, living in your customer database. If they are technically challenged they will be a drag on your team.
The environment of the BDC needs to be taken into account when hiring. You are staffing a group that will sit next to each other, in cubicles, making 50 to 100 phone calls a day. They are going to be hearing each other say almost the same thing over and over again, and they need to stay motivated.
Note on “The Perfect Rep”
I personally could never do what the BDC reps do, and for that reason, I have profound respect for those able to succeed in that environment. Having reps that like working with each other is a huge bonus as they can help each other. The less that the reps rely on management to solve simple issues, the more efficient the whole dealership.
Note that there are no perfect reps. Everyone has compromises. Don’t get lost looking for perfection, find people that are trainable.
During the Process of Hiring
Once you’ve decided on a rep, there are a few tricks to set up for success. I like to have my new reps make a list of 3 things that they will bring to the table for the team. Oftentimes new reps will mention their skills with Excel or Google Sheets, which can be very useful when building out your “landing page” for reps.
This list of 3 things is also useful down the line for coaching. If you have a rep that isn’t performing, you can use this list to have them self-adjust. Just by reminding them of their stated commitments can be a useful tool.
You should strive to ease new reps into their new role. The job, calling customers and facing constant rejection, can be overwhelming for a new rep. On their first day set them up with a more experienced rep to learn the cadence of a good call. If you are hiring your very first rep then do the calls yourself and have them listen.
Quick Tips When Starting
Make sure to set them up for success by starting them with low hanging fruit (such as fresh up follow up). By calling relatively easy conversion lists, they will build confidence and skills in a good environment.
Do not have them handle inbound calls when they are first hired. Inbound calls come in randomly and you want your reps to be able to plan and prepare for each call. If they are juggling inbound and outbound at the start they will start to feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed reps drag down their entire team and burn out quickly. Always monitor for overwhelm.
Try to foresee the pain points of your employees. For example, multiple logins and passwords are aggravating to keep track of for new reps. By having day 1 a google sheet with all of their usernames and passwords you will avoid yourself a future headache. A password manager like LastPass or 1Password can be great (if your IT lets them work!).
Onboarding Your New Reps
Your BDC reps need to be fluent in your CRM, your inventory management software, and your phone system. They also need to be set up with a “landing page” that has essential information all in one place.
In the CRM make sure that your reps can find the new web leads, navigate the filters/folders of customers from different reps and input new customers. They need to understand how you are going to track them and what metrics you care about. The most important important important metrics you need to keep a handle on are:
- Response Time: How long did it take for us to respond to their interest
- Update Days: How long since a customer has been touched
Those are the bare minimum for you to follow and they need to know that you are watching these. If you have short response times and low update days you know that your customers are at least in touch with your reps. How they handle the calls when they get the customers on the phone you can improve with coaching.
Inventory Management Software
Your inventory management system is probably a pain in the ass. That makes it no less important. Inventory management software efficiency is key to handling a phone call smoothly. It’s very good if a customer wants a specific car and the rep can find it in a few seconds. The customer gets the impression that your dealership has its ducks in a row.
Your phone system shouldn’t be ignored. Make sure your reps know how to forward calls to the right places. They need to have a list of all extensions so that they don’t waste time trying to place phone calls.
Your reps should have daily responsibilities. In assigning and scheduling the activities of your reps you need to keep the community in mind. It will be clear to your reps very quickly that some lists of customers have more potential than others. If left to their own the reps will fight for the highest likely conversion lists while ignoring other lists.
The easiest way to handle this with a small team is round-robin style excel or google sheet guide. Here is an example from my store:
If you look at Monday the 2nd you will see that each list has an initial of one of the reps assigned to it. Their initials rotate every day so every list gets hit every day and every rep gets a chance with each list. Your update days will be low and your reps will feel that the system is fair.
Note that the red text in the bottom left says:
“RED ITEMS MUST BE COVERED WHEN SOMEONE IS OUT OFF OFFICE (SICK/VACA ETC)”
This is an important note. The red lists are the most critical and cannot be missed even if a rep is sick. Someone else will need to cover that list.
Each of the lists in the “tasks” column has it’s own filter/folder in the CRM system. The filters are organized inside the CRM by update date.
The BDC Rep’s Landing Page
There is an incredible amount of information that BDC reps need to have at their fingertips. The landing page is a sheet in a google sheets document that has all of this information in one place.
I’ve cannibalized this one to protect the passwords etc but it should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about (click to see full size):
This landing page will protect the sanity of your BDC reps and let them handle calls in an efficient manner!
Managing the Environment of The BDC
Happy reps make better phone calls. Call centers are generally drab and gray, boring places that can make a bad call feel like an eternity.
Snacks, drinks and good design are key!
Encourage your reps to decorate (or do it yourself). Get seasonal and encourage them to have family photos on their desks. You want your reps to like being in the office as much as possible.
Your reps should be money motivated. I love the idea proposed over at Auto Dealer Monthly:
“One contest I use is called “Take Ben Home.” I’ll put up a $100 bill on the board and offer to let the BDR … with the most shows over an established standard for the day or weekend, take Ben home. They really do get motivated for that extra $100. Dinners and other rewards are very smart investments to make in your top producers.”
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