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As we prepare for 2014, BDC’s are a hot topic with many dealers. More than ever before, the next generation BDC will be driven by technology. The scope, structure and processes of BDC’s have to change to keep up with the consumers continued shift in how they shop. And how companies retain their valuable customers.

You must get beyond phone and Internet to develop a BDC that cares for all your customers before, during and after the sale and service of a vehicle. The truly profitable BDC’s are the voice of the dealership by delivering quality interaction every time a customer or prospect is “touched”.

1. The scope of BDC’s will expand. So many times I see a “BDC” that includes an appointment setter or two taking phone ups and working Internet leads. There may be a dedicated manager but sometimes a sales manager or someone outside the department manages the reps.

For a BDC to be effective it needs outbound campaigns and service. Service puts instant revenue in the department, and outbound campaigns create incremental sales and gross profit. Think of it this way; inbound captures and outbound creates.

Core processes such as showroom follow up, database marketing, direct mail and conquest marketing are truly developing business; a la business development. See the difference? It’s hard to make a small BDC profitable because of the lack of incremental business.

Service BDC’s are very effective. Usually boosting appointment setting by 30-40% while simultaneously liberating service advisors from the ringing phone. A Service Advisor, being a mere mortal, cannot give his undivided attention to the customer standing in front of him and the customer on the phone.

2. Processes are changing. Don’t take this the wrong way but your processes are over 400 years old! Look at your schedules; they are based on the calendar whose current version dates back to 1582. Do you think it’s time for a change?

In the future, follow up campaigns will be behavioral driven instead of by the clock. New technology providing insight in customer online behavior allows a shift in thinking to a more relevant and timely follow-up strategy.

At AllCall, we modify follow up based on how long the shopper has been in market, their vehicle consideration set, price range, shopping intensity and predicted purchase date. This wasn’t possible before but again technology drives change, innovation and improvement.

Another example of change in processes would be to adapt a “higher view” of your sold customer and make your sold follow up campaign more effective. You can do this with a BDC by letting them do all the follow up.

Sold customers are literally being bombarded with follow up, most of which has no value to the customer! It’s a spider web of everyone trying to get involved. Several calls from different people at the store (plus the OEM), letters and emails from the owner, GM and Service Manager plus a survey from the OEM is too much!

I’ve actually had a customer tell me “all I did was buy a car”. Ouch.

A fully staffed and effective BDC can whittle all that wasted motion down to one high quality follow up call and or email. Then transition in to service follow up and eventually referral and equity position campaigns. You should develop a simple process that doesn’t annoy your customer.

3. Communication channels are changing. The Gatlin gun method is going away. Pounding your customers inbox with email after email and leaving tone deaf voicemails just doesn’t work very well now and will definitely be less and less effective as consumers respond to more personalized ways of communicating.

Personalized videos, texting and social messaging are much more effective than email and voicemail in making the initial connection. Spark emotion with wow tactics and you’ve captured your prospects attention. The next generation BDC will be a social service providing useful information while influencing the shoppers choices in dealerships.

Call flow itself is changing. Future BDC’s will be the switchboard, controlling every interaction and delivering excellence in every call.

4. Compensation in the BDC is changing. Highly effective BDC’s have more focus on hiring the right people for the job and less focus on spiffing mediocre employees to do their job! Managers don’t spend valuable hours tracking down data and documenting spiffs for kept appointments and solds

Skillful service-minded employees cheerfully convert shoppers to showroom visitors for a fair wage. It’s all in who and how you hire.

5. Outsourcing enables any dealer to have an effective BDC model and digital strategy. For many dealers launching a BDC just isn’t going to be easy. Finding the right people, the space and the time and money isn’t feasible but outsourcing is a very real solution.

Managing your website content, social and digital marketing strategy in house is also a challenge for many dealers. You don’t produce your own TV spots or newspaper ads so why wouldn’t you let an expert handle your digital content and marketing?

BDC outsourcing can save you tens of thousands of dollars and eliminate a lot of headaches and do-overs. No personnel costs, no turnover, no training costs, no bonuses or ramp up time make an outsource BDC very cost effective.

So re-think you BDC strategy for 2014. Go beyond phone and Internet and develop a fully operational BDC either internally or externally. You’ll need it to keep up with your shoppers and your competitors.