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The Car Dealership Kingdom: Are You a Hunter or a Farmer?

BDC: Turning Digital Automotive Leads into a Lucrative Customer Base

Richard Rikess, Certified Performance Improvement Consultant for ADP Digital Marketing

You’ve invested in a great new dealer website; your job is done, right? Wrong. Although 61% of phone and email leads go on to purchase vehicles (Experian), many dealers still neglect to follow up with their email leads. Your automotive website is doing half the job by providing the lead, now you need trained staff to follow up and nurture them to close the sale. That’s where a Business Development Center (BDC) comes in. Although a BDC is now considered a must by many dealers, some are still resistant. Why? It often comes down to a culture clash.

Style Differences: Hunters versus Farmers

The traditional sales department is comprised of staff that can be regarded as “hunters.” These are the traditional auto sales types who are not effective following up with potential customers beyond a few days. Hunters are at their best when interacting with the “live” or walk-in customer; performance with telephone customers or email leads is usually inconsistent.

The BDC employs people that are akin to “farmers,” willing to follow up with potential customers more diligently and for a much longer period of time. While farmers do not fit the “typical” car dealer profile, in the age of digital automotive marketing, it’s more important than ever to add staff whose specialty is converting long-tail prospects like email leads.

The bottom line? You need both in your dealership to be successful. Here’s how to integrate farmers into the fold.

Setting up a BDC Department

Remember – there is not a “one size fits all” solution when a dealership chooses a BDC. The BDC’s operational strategy and structure will determine everything from the type of person hired to their responsibilities to how they and their department is measured once fully operational. However, here are some general guidelines that may be helpful in establishing your BDC department.


A dealership must first determine the BDC’s purpose and scope.  Some tasks that can be diverted to the BDC include:

1.      Dealer website leads

2.      Phone Up clients

3.      Follow Up with Unsold Showroom Traffic

4.      Lease & Finance maturity prospects

5.      Service Customers

It is important to define the responsibilities that will shift to the BDC and those that will remain for traditional sales staff.


When staffing, you will need to decide if you want your BDC center to handle pure appointment-setting, or start-to-finish appointments including setting up the appointment, meet-and-greet, test drive, etc. We will create recommendations for both below.

  • 1 BDR for every 200 phone ups
  • 1 BDR for every 150 Internet leads appointments set
  • 1 BDR for 70-80 start-to-finish appointments
  • 1 BDR for lease and finance maturity customers
  • 1 or 2 BDRs for service CSI follow-up (dependent on service volume)
  • 1 Customer Relations Manager for unsold follow-up
  • Orphan owners

Moving Forward: Nurturing your Online Car Leads

Like most dealers, you are probably thinking, “Where am I going to find these people?”

Crawl, walk, run! You can take it in phases. Most dealerships start out by moving control of the dealer website and reassigning incoming phone calls to the BDC. This allows you to move at your speed. You probably have one or two Internet sales consultants monitoring your automotive website and setting appointments, then you can easily find and train one or two people to handle incoming phone ups.

Now put a pencil to it, Mr. Dealer – divide how many Internet-based sales you are making today by the number of email leads you are getting from your dealer website. Those leads are money left on the table-a BDC center is the key element to convert those sales.

Richard Rikess, Certified Performance Improvement Consultant for ADP Digital Marketing

Richard Rikess, Performance Improvement
Consultant (PIC) for ADP Digital Marketing has been in
the automotive industry since birth. His career has
spanned all facets of the auto industry. He has worked
in management, sales, marketing and eCommerce.

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