Are You Considering a Business Development Center for Fixed Operations? – Part 3

Written by David Dietrich

(This is Part 3 of a three-part series: View Part 1 | View Part 2 )

XII. Develop Follow-up Letters

Even though most BDC communication will be on the phone and immediate, there will be at times the need to correspond with a customer through the mailer or even e-mail. When designing your mailers, give thought to them being professional, attractive, and have an eye-catching appearance. Basically, avoid it looking like just another piece of junk mail. Nothing that is “tossed at first sight” is ever effective. The following are some situations we have seen that a mailer is at times necessary:

  • SOP notification
  • Recall notification
  • Follow up on Lost Service Sales (unsold ASRs)
  • Recapture of lost souls

XIII. Process Develop

Nothing in a dealership or in life for that matter happens consistently without a process! So, in keeping with this fact, it is essential that we create, document and train an effective process for virtually every aspect of the BDC. When creating a process, it is necessary to identify who is responsible to perform the process, how often and when it should be performed, and when necessary how the information will be gathered. Every process, when possible, should have a “checks and balances” element built into it. As with any process implemented, it is what you do the day after implementation to sustain it that matters. We have also found it very beneficial to involve the people responsible for the process when writing it and review it after 30-60 days to ensure it is accomplishing its purpose. The following is a list of situations to consider:

  • Appointment confirmation call process
  • No show appointment call process
  • SOP notification process
  • Recall notification process
  • Service status calls
  • Customer satisfaction follow-up calls
  • Additional Sales Request declined follow up??

XIV. Conduct BDC General Information Meeting and Training

One of the most prevalent comments we hear from employees when conducting evaluations and interviews is that they feel like mushrooms, always in the dark. Employers and direct bosses do not communicate with the troops nearly enough, in most environments. One of the steps that are essential to a smooth Service BDC implementation is a General Information Meeting to inform everyone what is designed and desired and what the end benefit will be for each person in the store. If they are involved in the development or at least before kickoff, they feel a part of the process and growth. When they feel a part, you are helping them implement their plan. And it is much easier to implement their plan than to dictate ours. A General Information Meeting may only include the BDC employees and the advisors, or it could include the entire dealership. Everyone (or their customers) will benefit from an effective Service BDC, so why not inform everyone? Training should be well thought out and thorough. When training areas such as computer usage, it may be possible to have your computer vendor send someone to train the new employees on setting an appointment in the computer when applicable. In other cases you may choose to handle the training in-house. In either case, there is something that should be considered as a training topic. Below is a list of items we have found as must-train; this list is by no means all-inclusive:

  • Phone skills
  • Appointment documentation
    • Paper scheduling form
    • Computer appointment log
  • Word track usage
  • When to flip a call
  • Outgoing calls

XV. Create Methods of Measurement and Guidelines

Methods of measurement and checks and balances can many times be the difference between an effective and ineffective process. The BDC is no different. Although it will vary in every environment, there are certain commonly tracked items as it pertains to an effective Service BDC. Tracking can be manual or with the ad of an Excel spreadsheet. The following is a list of items that should be tracked daily, weekly, and monthly by the individual BDC Consultant:

  • Number of incoming calls vs. appointments
  • Number of outgoing calls vs. appointments
  • Percentage of no-show appointments
  • Results of ASR follow up
  • Results on phone marketing campaigns
  • Kick-off day

Training as with anything is also key to a smooth kick-off, but inevitably regardless of how well you plan and think through it, something will happen at “go” time that is unexpected, and it must be managed effectively and quickly. No disrespect to anyone else, but Service Managers are generally more accustomed to “managing on the fly”. Due to this fact and the fact that Service Managers are usually better versed in setting appointments than other managers, the Service Manager should plan to spend the first few days of a Service BDC kick-off in the BDC office. It is also necessary to plan any alterations in the phone flow process and have the necessary people available during the kick-off to adjust on the fly. We have also found it very beneficial for other managers to spend time in the BDC during the kick-off. One so they can have the benefit of watching the process in action and two to identify other opportunities to strengthen a BDC from other department views. A missing element in many kick-offs is feedback. Due to this fact, try to the people it most effect (i.e., advisors) meet with the BDC after a day or two to offer their view of how things are going and how it is being perceived by their customers. In any event, there should be a weekly meeting between ALL department managers and the BDC for the first few months, if for no other reason just to say thank you to the BDC Consultants. Everyone likes to know how they affect the dealership.

XVI. Keys to Success

The success of Service BDC is based on many factors, but the key is the people. One of the best hiring practices I have heard is attributed to a manager at one of the famous Hard Rock Cafes. He was asked by a patron, how do you get all your people to be so nice and cheery, his answer was simple, “we hire attitudes”. How ingeniously simple! His biggest hiring criteria are attitude. It is very important to pick the right people, after all they will be talking to 75% of your service customers. Other things that are important to the success is that the BDC has a clear purpose and direction, and they know their mission.

Once the direction is set, we must plan to be successful, thinking of every situation and as many customers’ needs as possible. Although expenses should always be considered, make sure to staff to a sufficient level from the word go, and never ask anyone to do a superior job with the handicap of asking them to carry too much of a load. Tools are essential as mentioned earlier. When people are given the right tools and trained on how to use them properly, their chances for success are tremendously increased. One of the most effective training procedures available is role play, It is at times uncomfortable for some, but after a few initial sessions, it will become fun for most. The beauty of role-play training is it can be used weekly to keep everyone sharp. Any way that you choose to train is an essential key to success. When everything is said and done, it is the results that define our success most of the time. Having ways to measure that success and some KPI to track and target are as much a part of success as anything. All in all, a Service BDC can be a great asset to your dealership and your customers. As with anything, it must be well thought out and planned to ensure a smooth implementation and long-term success.

From a complete Service Department Assessment to targeted Classroom Service Advisor Training options, I am here to assist you with all of your Fixed Operation improvement custom-tailored to your specific needs. For more information feel free to contact me anytime at (205) 329-3735 or

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