In the automotive industry, titles are key.  However, if you are applying inappropriate titles to departments of your dealership, the customer loses.  One of the current trends in auto dealerships is the addition of a department called the BDC, but before calling your department a BDC, ensure that it is fully functioning as such.

A proper BDC functions as just that, a business development center.  Many dealerships across the country have begun calling their internet department a BDC, but when doing so the question must be asked as to whether or not the function of said department matches the title.  Is your BDC functioning at the level of a BDC or is it simply a dressed up version of what was formerly known as the internet department.

One of the key facets of a BDC is the employment of a responsible and qualified manager.  Promoting your office manager is probably not going to cut it in terms of function.  A BDC manager must have the qualifications of an accomplished salesperson as well as the detail oriented approach of a member of your office staff.  Due to the increased calling and development, a BDC manager must also have a keen eye when it comes to employment.  The staff can’t simply “phone it in”, they must be able to wear many different hats.

In an internet department, the staff is on standby to contact potential leads, schedule appointments for showings, and essentially reply to any questions that a potential internet browser may have.  All too often, dealerships maintain the belief that this is enough to consider that department a BDC.  However, simply being there to respond if someone requests info or car prices online isn’t enough. 

A good BDC is not only contacting internet leads, but they are also calling previous customers to schedule oil changes or service, contacting lessees whose leases are about to expire, or informing former customers that new models are arriving.  In addition to the aforementioned functions, a BDC should always be available to meet the needs of potential customers as well. 

To meet the appropriate functions of a BDC, the right staff is imperative.  The best bet for potential employees is former salespeople that have functioned well in many other departments of the dealership.  An excellent former salesperson who is looking to cut back hours or not stress as much about the quota would be an unmatched addition to your BDC, as he or she will be able to answer any technical questions a customer may have as well as generate new business.

In the instance of having a fantastic BDC manager, but lackluster staff, the BDC isn’t going to operate at full capacity.  If the employees are finding themselves focused only on new internet leads or become easily stressed over minute details, the potential of the BDC is going to be dragged down in a momentous fashion.  An essential BDC employee must be able to meet the qualifications of almost every other employee within the dealership.

Differentiating between the types isn’t always easy, but it is necessary to determine what functions will be important to your department.  If the intent of your department is only to respond to online requests and set up appointments for car showings, call the department what it is; an internet department.  If your department is consistently making phone calls saying “Hi Fred, we noticed that your lease is about to expire in three months, did you have any interest in discussing your options?”; you’ve got a BDC on your hands.  Knowing the difference between the two titles in ultimately important to determine what responsibilities your employees must be expected to perform. 

Customers expect a certain level of efficacy from their dealerships, and this should come from the BDC.  A BDC must meet expectations of current, former, and potential customers equally, never singling out or showing preference to one particular group.  Time must be utilized as efficiently as possible, with little time being spent focusing on minuscule issues rather than paying close attention to the big picture; maximizing the amount of repeat and new foot traffic. 

If you’re in the process of transitioning into a BDC from a department that solely handled internet leads, you’re in for a wild ride.  Changes will be made, staff will leave, and things will probably never be the same in your work environment.  Hang in there, true change requires patience and diligence.  However, if you’re in the trenches of an internet department that claims to be a BDC, work with your manager or higher-ups to propose different ideas to ensure the full functioning capacity of a true BDC.

Titles may be important, but in a fast paced industry, they have to match what is being delivered.  A question to dealerships: is your BDC truly functioning the way it should be or have you relabeled a dysfunctional department without making changes?