Choosing the Best Service BDC for Your Dealership
Sales can be spectacular, but Service is what keeps the lights on. And with pandemic-related chip shortages, supply chain issues and inventory challenges, Service business is booming. But according to Car and Driver Magazine, the average age of vehicles on the road today is approaching 12 years. This means that despite recent market developments, drivers are holding onto their cars longer and the demand for quality Service will continue to grow.
Third-party shops have taken up the slack and are now reaching further into your business. It’s time to fight back and choose this opportunity to invest in your Service department. The business is there for the taking, and choosing a dedicated Service Business Development Center (BDC) is a great place to start.
An Automotive Service BDC can ensure that every call connects so you don’t lose out on any potential revenue. Once your decision has been made, you’ll need to choose whether it’s better to create an in-house program or contract your BDC out to a third-party provider. Each has its advantages and its limitations depending on the culture of your dealership and the relative strengths of your department.
Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when creating an in-house BDC or choosing an existing BDC provider.
Advantages of an In-House Service BDC
1. Culture — An internal team will be familiar with your dealership, its culture and values. You’ll be able to train agents and guide them on when you want calls answered, what you want them to say and how to represent your brand.
2. Expertise — Internal BDC agents can get to know your services and costs and develop a greater expertise in what you offer than external BDC agents. They’ll be able to answer more Service-specific questions and develop relationships with regular customers.
3. Technology — Over the last decade, a wealth of call center software has arrived to help streamline workflow and raise the productivity of BDC agents. Automatic dialers and data management and reporting increase efficiency and help you determine what's not working. Advanced Digital Voice Assistants (DVAs) have also evolved to handle inbound appointment requests and answer routine questions. A DVA frees up agents to make revenue-producing outbound calls while also ensuring that all inbound calls are answered promptly.
Disadvantages of an In-House Service BDC
1. Cost — Hiring, training and paying agents will be a considerable expense. With the current labor shortage, it can take 65 to 75 days to receive enough qualified applicants just to begin the screening process. Once your team is in place, you’ll want to keep them. Expect to pay from $15 to $20 an hour plus bonuses of $2 to $5 for appointment shows. That can add up.
2. Management — A poor BDC manager can lead to erosion of processes and employee morale, resulting in unanswered calls, loss of business and high turnover. You may have to kiss a few frogs before you can find a true leader who exhibits integrity, adaptability, tenacity and self-motivation.
3. Technology and Space — The initial investment in the technology required to support an in-house BDC could be prohibitive. If you can only afford the bare minimum, you may want to make a different choice. You’ll also need enough space so your BDC agents can work without disrupting the normal flow of business. If your store has a small footprint, that could be a significant stumbling block.
4. After Hours — The nature of business and the 9-to-5 work day has changed. Many of your potential service customers will want to contact you outside of those parameters. In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to keep an internal BDC open 24 hours a day, which means you’ll be missing out on after-hours calls.
Advantages of a Third-Party Service BDC
1. Coverage 24/7/365 — An external BDC has the resources to be open around-the-clock. Many offer 24-hour phone, chat and text coverage, so you never miss a customer.
2. Flexibility — An external BDC has immediate scalability, so you can quickly react to the market. You can run one, two or several campaigns simultaneously with minimal turnaround time.
3. Technology — An external BDC will be using the latest call center technology at no additional charge above your monthly cost. Agents use customer contact tracking software to capture every interaction, giving you activity and campaign data to determine exactly what's making you money.
4. Staffing — External BDCs are constantly hiring and training agents to ensure that you’ll never see a gap in service. This relieves you of the cost and hassle of the hiring process. Generally, it can be continuous as the average turnover rate for agents is between 30 and 45%. And you aren’t responsible for paying benefits, sick leave or PTO.
5. Insights — A professional automotive BDC employs experienced people who know what processes work and which scripts get the best results. Your account representative can be a trusted advisor in creating marketing initiatives and campaigns that generate real revenue.
Disadvantages of a Third-Party Service BDC
1. Culture — Agents who are not based in your dealership may not understand your culture, your brand or how you conduct business. Their only job is to generate business for short-term gains, but they may leave you with long-term losses in credibility and reputation. Proper onboarding and training can alleviate this challenge but can take a lot of time and energy that you may not have to give.
2. Offshore Agents — Some BDCs employ offshore agents who may not have the knowledge or commitment to represent your brand effectively. Some come with language barriers and poor phone connections that can leave customers frustrated and looking for service elsewhere. If you decide to outsource, look for a BDC with agents based in the U.S.
It’s Your Choice
Your Service department is a reliable source of steady income. Don't pass up an opportunity to minimize missed calls — make a good impression on potential customers from the very first contact. Choose the right Service BDC program, matched to the way your dealership operates and what you want to accomplish. Done right, it’s a great way to increase customer loyalty, source used inventory and create new sales channels.