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The Pros & Cons of In-House BDCs at Car Dealerships


In today's digital age, car dealerships are increasingly relying on technology-driven processes to boost sales and provide excellent customer service. One such strategy is the establishment of a business development center (BDC) to support existing teams and drive more revenue. Some owners and managers are hesitant to set up BDCs at car dealerships – but why? Let’s explore the pros and cons of BDCs and how to turn challenges into opportunities with an outsourced BDC instead of an in-house team.

What is a BDC in Car Sales?

A BDC at a car dealership is a specialized department that focuses on managing inbound calls, setting appointments and making outbound calls to bring in new leads. In the auto industry, BDCs are responsible for the initial contact and follow-up with potential customers, aiming to convert leads into appointments and sales.

The BDC isn’t just for sales. This department also sets service appointments and can mine manifest lists for potential service leads. It can even set up and manage customer loyalty and referral programs.

BDC vs. Sales Department

The BDC meaning in a car dealership is different from the definition and functions of the sales department. The sales department is typically on the showroom floor, greeting walk-ins, helping customers, taking them on test drives and finalizing deals. The BDC works behind the scenes to answer phones, follow-up with internet leads and make appointments.

It works similarly for service departments. The BDC will take inbound calls, set appointments and follow-up with reminders. But once the customer arrives, the service department takes the lead. In this way, a BDC at a car dealership complements your existing team, allowing them to do what they do best.

What is a BDC Representative at a Car Dealership?

BDCs are more than call centers, and representatives play a crucial role at any dealership. They’re responsible for managing and nurturing relationships with both potential and existing customers, ensuring a seamless experience while driving revenue for the dealership. Their day-to-day tasks might include:

  • Handling inbound and outbound calls
  • Responding to email inquiries
  • Managing online chat features
  • Follow up to confirm appointments
  • Reviewing the CRM for new leads

Pros of All Car Dealership BDCs

BDCs in car dealerships can either be in-house, which means you take care of equipment, staffing and processes yourself, or outsourced, which means a company like Better Car People takes care of all that for you. Done right, both can have benefits.

Respond to Leads Faster

Your sales team may be used to responding to leads as part of their responsibilities. You may even have a “volunteer” system for responding to leads after-hours. But it’s easy for leads to get lost or go stale as new leads come in and sales gets overwhelmed.

Managers know that the faster a response, the more likely the customer is to make an appointment. After all, they’ve probably already compared you against several other dealerships (or for service leads, independent shops) and would be just as happy to make an appointment elsewhere. When you have an entire department dedicated to following up quickly, you’ll be able to capture more leads.

Help Drive Conversions

The reason sales departments can fall behind is that following up on the initial lead is just the beginning. If you’re lucky, the customer will set an appointment right away, but you’ll still want to send them reminders. And if they don’t set an appointment – or you don’t make the sale on that initial visit – keeping the communication going can result in a conversion further down the line.

A BDC for car sales and service takes all those tasks off your team’s plate. Not only that, BDCS are proactive about nurturing leads by answering questions, sending follow up emails and text messages and even sending birthday or holiday wishes to keep your dealership top of mind.

Book Quality Service Appointments

You don’t just want to increase overall service traffic. You want to create happier customers by streamlining your processes so you can get them in the door before an independent shop can. You also want to increase the value of your ROs: No-shows and low-ticket items, like tires, can be a big drain on your service department.

A service BDC can help you do all that and more. They’ll respond quickly and professionally so you don’t push service customers to the competition. They’ll send reminders to help decrease no-shows. They’ll mine your manifest lists and connected car alerts to find high-value customers. They can even send leads to sales when needed, for example, if the price of repairs exceeds the cost of a new car.

Drive Efficiency

Ultimately, the meaning of a BDC in car sales and service is to improve your operational efficiency and drive more revenue. Car dealership BDCs use email templates, flexible scripts, connected car alerts and other technology to create a system that ensures no missed opportunities. They’ll sort, prioritize and assign leads in the most effective way and work seamlessly with your sales team to provide an excellent customer experience. And they’ll track results and overall dealership trends so you can refine your strategies.

Cons of In-House Car Dealership BDCs

Setting up an in-house BDC in a car dealership isn't without challenges. Managers who are hesitant to create an in-house BDC may have one of these obstacles on their minds.

Staffing and Training Issues

Car dealership BDCs are fast-paced and demanding environments, and like sales teams, can have high turnover rates. When you add in recent staffing shortages and hiring problems in the automotive industry, it’s no wonder that staffing an in-house BDC is a top concern for managers.

Even when you can find staff to hire, car dealership BDC training can take up a lot of time. Representatives need to learn about your brand, models and parts, plus get familiar with your customer base. It’s hard to find and compensate automotive experts in today’s marketplace.

Developing BDC Processes

A BDC at a car dealership should enhance your sales and service departments, not replace them. It’s meant to take routine tasks off their plate, so they can focus on closing the deal. But without solid collaboration and communication, your sales team could feel like their leads – and their commissions – are being taken away, especially if you choose to build an in-house BDC department.

Both teams should feel that the dealership BDC benefits them. Managers need to create clear processes and provide training for handing off leads to sales and any remaining follow-up. They have to be willing to put in some work and be patient, because the benefits of a BDC might not happen overnight.

Increased Costs

Establishing and maintaining an in-house BDC at your car dealership can involve significant investment. You’ll need both software and hardware to get your new employees set up, plus the costs of hiring, training and ongoing management. You’ll also need the space to fit at least a few desks and computers.

If you’re planning to keep your BDC open outside of dealership hours – for example, 7 days a week, for 12 hours a day, which is a common set of hours – the costs can go up even more. While over time, a dealership BDC should provide a good ROI, the up-front costs for an in-house department can be prohibitive.

Solving the Challenges with an Outsourced BDC

Thinking about starting a BDC at your car dealership? You can overcome the challenges of an in-house department by going with an outsourced automotive BDC like Better Car People.

We employ live, on-shore agents who are automotive experts, so you don’t have to worry about staffing or training. They’re available 24/7/365 to respond to leads, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on opportunities. Our proprietary technology works seamlessly with your existing processes, making life easier for your sales and service teams. And our flexible pricing scales up and down with your business.

Book a meeting with us today for a quick evaluation of your current strategies and a roadmap to help you move forward. We’ll help you confidently make the right decision for your business.


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