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It's the internet manager's fault...

Picture this scenario...

A high level Internet/BDC Manager gets hired into a dealership that is a goldmine of an opportunity.  This person comes very highly recommended and has a proven track record of building success for every dealership that they have worked with.  It is amazing how during the interview process this person's suggestions and views are not really cared for.  Here is a dealership that gets over 2000 leads per month with an underperforming BDC, very poor customer satisfaction, and untrained sales consultants.

This new BDC Manager starts working at the dealership that builds him a new BDC office with space to fit 10 BDC reps.  The dealership is operating with only 4 BDC reps that cherry pick the leads and do not follow up a set process.  This is because the CRM is not properly set up.  These 4 BDC reps are working 55 hours per week and milking the dealership for overtime with very little focus on performance since the commission plan is poor.  The sales staff is micro-managed and is required to spend an hour a day in the BDC to make random phone calls to random internet leads (only to aggravate prospects) without reading notes on the customers.

What does the BDC Manager accomplish in a 2 month period?

Start with the fact that this person works 50 hours per week.  Also take into consideration that the General Manager is really just a General Sales Manager who takes on way more responsibility than they should.  They handle websites, third party lead providers, and marketing without ever involving the BDC Manager (who has the best automotive digital marketing background in the whole dealership).  Take into consideration that while all of the dealerships that are smart are pulling out of using TrueCar, this dealership embraces it.  They get 1200 leads per month off of ZAG and only sell 30.  They are happy with that and do not care for the fact that 95% of the leads are garbage that clutter the CRM.  When the BDC Manager speaks up, the response that he gets is "look we delivered 30 cars at $2,700 per unit so it is a great resource".

Does this sound like a problematic situation?  So the BDC Manager puts up with it and works with what he has knowing that the dealership only talks about growing but does not want to make changes that will allow for the growth.

So in two months, here is what happens:

1. Pay Plan change for BDC reps.  No more overtime.  No more hourly pay.  They strictly get paid a weekly salary to work 40 hours per week.  The commission plan becomes lucrative.  There is a bonus put in place if the team hits their goals.  This causes issues and struggles because everyone started to complain.  However, everyone has the option of accepting the change and the ability to make more money or pack their things and leave.  Every single BDC rep stays loyal and decides to follow this new plan.

2. As we know it is impossible to manager 2000 leads for 4 people.  The BDC Managers hires 4 more people rounding out the staff to an even 8 person BDC.  Now we are in business.  This stops the cherry picking and starts to push the BDC reps to making more phone calls and appointments.

3. Training.  The BDC reps were all trained to follow the system that BDC Manager has put into place.  It was easier for the new people to learn and develop these new methods while the veterans had to incorporate this into what they were already doing.

4. CRM Process setup.  The CRM was a total disaster.  There was no work plan.  In fact the only leads that were followed up with were the ones that responded back.  Email templates were not clear and everyone just sent out a random email.  This would change as the BDC Manager installed processes and email templates that include 120 follow for internet leads consisting of emails and phone calls.  The emails had fresh, unique, content that triggered customers to respond.  This automatically increased contact rates and elevated to more phone calls.  There were processes installed for following up with unsold showroom customers as well as bringing in service customers to give them an opportunity to trade their vehicle into a new one.

The Results:

Before all of these changes were made, the average Saturday appointment log would have 60-70 appointments booked.  After these changes, an average Saturday appointment log with have between 85 and 104 appointments.  During the week the appointments went from 15 per day to as many as 35 per day.  Towards the end of the 2nd month the total amount of appointments for the store were 610 set and 317 shows.

The problem:

With 610 set and 317 shows, the dealership as a whole was sitting on only 115 delivered vehicles.  Keep in mind that lead count dropped as Zag/TrueCar made changes.  The leads went from 1200 to 600.  The BDC Manager was happy to have less garbage clutter the CRM.  The customers are being brought in yet the sales department is dropping the ball.  The dealership is starting to have more customer satisfaction problems than ever.  More and more customers email and call to complain.  They are being mishandled.  One of the sales consultants who consistently sell over 30 cars per month is politically tied in with the GM and he gets way with everything.  He skates other sales people and he is the main source of the customer satisfaction problems.

What else?  It is two months into this department being setup.  The BDC Manager still does not have as desk, computer, and phone.  There were times when the BDC Manager had to work out of their very own laptop.  The first month and half there were not enough phone lines.

So the finger pointing starts and the blame goes to the internet manager for the dealership not selling cars.  The blame also states that they are not focused on the job as much as they should be and the results are not there.  The dealership does not know what to do next but thinks that having this BDC Manager is a huge expense so they let him go.

Fast forward one week later after the BDC Manager is gone.  This dealership has no clue to what to do next so they place their 30 car per month sales all-star (who barely speaks English and is the reason for most of the customer satisfaction problems) to be the acting BDC Manager.  This person has no BDC training and has no idea how to manage the CRM and anything about process.  Well that first Saturday, the appointment log drops down to 50 appointments instead of 90.

What is the point?

The point is that dealers need to stop looking for an instant miracle.  If you want to grow and you get someone great give them the chance and the support that they need to make it work.  Stop fighting it.  Control the dealership so that no one else gets in the way politically to make it difficult for the store to grow.  Start focusing on managing the sales staff and fixing all of the customer service issues that come with the problem.  At 317 customers showing up, the dealership should have sold 140-150 units just off the appointments and even more from the walk in traffic.  Yet the blame is still put on the internet manager.  This store does not look back and think "Why did we have to go through 5 and now 6 BDC Managers in 2 years?"  They just dream big and finger point.  Finger pointing and playing the blame game only takes you backwards.  So when you decide that you want to grow and make positive changes.  Stick with them and do not cause action that will make you go backwards.

By the way this is based on a true story and this actually happened within the last two months.  The statistics are 100% accurate.

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Views: 352

Tags: automotive dealership, automotive internet sales, automotive management, bdc manager, dealer etraining, internet manager, stan sher

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Comment by Steve Duff on March 17, 2012 at 9:58am

Wow... considering that about 70% of our booked appointments hold, and we close about 50% of our held appointments, with "an average Saturday appointment log with have between 85 and 104 appointments", we'd sell 29 to 36 cars on Saturday alone, just from the BDC with those kinds of appointments. I'm sort of new at BDC management (have strong background in e-commerce however), but still that just seems way high. Our numbers are much lower than this. Granted I only have about 600 leads (not counting phone ups) and 5 ISCs. Still... what am I missing here? 

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 8, 2012 at 6:57pm

Everybody running a dealership today should read this.

Comment by Stan Sher on March 8, 2012 at 3:10pm

Thanks.  I have been to that movie myself in the past.  How about a situation when an owner brings you on and gives you full control to do what needs to be done yet it is the other managers that get in the way.  What made this true story situation even worse is that the owner was the nicest guy ever but he trusted his GM too much and did not get involved in the operations like he should.  This has positive and negative effects to how the store is run.

Comment by Gary Wiley on March 8, 2012 at 3:00pm

Great article, been there done that several times.  Your hired to make changes and become a better sales team, but yet time and time again, Management has decided that what we need is micro-managed.  We have the knowledge and expertise to run the internet or BDC, yet are not given all the tools to use the way we know they should operate within.  Wouldn't it be great to have an actual manager position that has come through a BDC or an Internet team that is working like an oiled machine.

Comment by Matthew Smolik on March 7, 2012 at 6:43am
Great article Stan, true at over 80% of dealers. Mike,thank you so much for the comment you wrote I think it should be a stand alone article. Very helpful as that is step that myself has left out, in most cases I'm already employed and the dealer/group is reaching out to talk to me not vice versa. Again thank you for sharing this
Comment by Mike theCarGuy Correra on March 6, 2012 at 10:26am

The sad reason that I completely understand is that I have lived this very same scenarion, albeit with some specific different many, many times. The biggest problem is the culture of our industry still needs a fundmental change AT THE TOP. This business is still very top heavy with dinosaurs that will interveiw you, agree with everyting you say you can don and seem like they are on board... untill three months later (on average) when they flip out and change thier mind about all that they agreed with! Change is not good in the minds of so many GM's, they demand huge results while only allowing 'whats always worked before'. They tell you they NEED to have 'X' units from Internet to meet the market share, volume goals, corporate demand etc but dont want to hear what it takes to get there. Its only been in the last few months that I have gained a clear understanding of why the cycle continues. I am pretty good at getting myself hired for a gig, my record stands on its own and I do well in interviews... what I HAVENT done effectivley enough is INTERVIEW THEM! Is THIS a dealership that shares MY values? Is THIS an atmosphere that I can grow in, enthusiasticaly pursue greatness for myself, my staff AND my customers? Or is this just like the last place and will I be unhappy within 3-6 months and looking for work again?
An amazing business coach recently opened my eyes and I really have started seeing the world differently as a result. When a top performing CEO of a Fortune 500 company is interviewing with a potential new employer he's not there selling himself, he knows already that the reason they are speaking to him is that they already feel that he would be a worthy asset to aquire. He is there for the potential employer to sell themselves on why he should work there. That my friend is what you need to focus on! Out there, somewhere is a Dealer Principal/GM and or GSM that gets it, keep looking until you find that place! When you get there, interview THEM, you are allowed to ensure that THEY are the right employers for YOU! Find the dealership that shares your values, vision and belief in what you know works. The laws of business evolution are working, slowly but the dinosaurs ARE falling by the wayside! Once you find that dealer you will be able to continue doing what you know works and the results will be huge, in volume, customer satisfaction and your staff will wake up in the moring excited to go to work at such an awesome place! I wish you the best in your search, I too am in that same search but I know it will pay of for both of us! Keep the faith and keep rockin! :)

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