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Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.43.32 PMToday’s modern Business Development Center is outperforming most of its predecessors. Great BDC dealers have moved beyond phone and Internet. Outbound campaigns like equity mining, showroom and service lane follow up, event marketing, service marketing and email marketing drive incremental sales and more profit.

But why now? What has changed? I know many dealers who have failed with their BDC in the past but have come back to the BDC model. Back and in the black!

The first contributing factor is we are in the middle of a changing generation of car people. Analog desk managers of old are being replaced by the digital manager of today. In addition, the second, third or fourth generation owner has taken over the reigns in thousands of dealerships. These new owners, principals and GMs grew up with the Internet. It is as natural to them as electricity to my generation.

No longer are these dealerships at odds with their customer on the process. The new generation of car people would absolutely buy a car the same way and have aligned their selling system with car buyers to create chemistry rather than conflict in the customer’s experience. This makes customers like them and want to do business with them.

The second factor is technology drives traffic to your website and online inventory prior to your showroom or service lane. Even if it’s just to grab your phone number, your website is the portal to your showroom.

Customers using your website communicate differently. They may want to call, send you an email, a text or just chat. The quality of that interaction may very well be the determining factor in whether or not they decide to visit your showroom or service department. A BDC can deliver an exceptional experience across all these channels and drive more traffic to the showroom. Some visit by appointment but not all. There are plenty of stealth shoppers who will just show up in your showroom.

Let’s take a closer look at the oldest technology in the dealership; the telephone. Did you know that on average, 70% of all customer interaction happens on the phone? That’s right. Add up your total inbound rings and outbound calls and compare that to your total internet leads, showroom ups and closed service RO’s. Hopefully you will have that “aha” moment and realize you have to be great on the phone. What would your business be like if every time a customer hung up the phone with someone at your store they thought, “wow”?

A BDC can deliver the highest QOI level (quality of interaction). Smooth call flow, permission based handling and good old-fashioned telephone etiquette gives customers the feeling they are being served. This QOI transcends the phone. Timely and relevant responses to emails, value added tactics like video and chat skills, dynamic meaningful voicemails and someone to just make it easy for customers to do business with you all flow from the QOI mindset.

It’s really obvious that this QOI is much easier to achieve with a small group of people in a positive environment than through front line employees spread out all over the dealership with little supervision at the interaction level.

The third reason BDC’s are making a comeback is because incremental sales are easier now with the development of new technologies. CRM capabilities, equity tools, landing pages and microsites all create new business. If your BDC is just handling phone ups and Internet leads then it’s capturing potential lost sales but outbound campaigns and personalized, targeted marketing truly develops sales, and we are talking about business development!

Education has played a big role in the modern BDC ‘s success. Correct staffing, skillsets, accurate benchmarks, performance standards, better buy in from the showroom and meaningful financial metrics are all lessons learned from past failures.

Ronald Reagan said, “Each generation stands on the shoulders of the generation before it”. Todays BDC is a good example of learning from the past and picking up where others left off in the evolution of an effective and profitable business development center in the digital age.