GROW YOUR SERVICE BUSINESS THROUGH YOUR BDC
Most dealerships use a Business Development Center (BDC) to help fill the pipeline for vehicle sales. But a much smaller number of dealers take full advantage of a BDC to deliver more Service business.
However, when they do, the results are dramatic. Consider McGuire Chevrolet Cadillac in northern New Jersey, which recently created a BDC to support Sales and Service.
McGuire’s Service team — eight Technicians, two Advisors, a Foreman and a Utility Service Person — completes about 550 repair orders (ROs) each month. Working closely with a four-person BDC, the store consistently tops its 14-dealership district in key measurements.
For example, in November 2017, McGuire’s average for closing dealer maintenance leads came in at 39 percent versus the district’s average of 30 percent. The same month’s average monthly RO billing was $198 for the dealership versus the district average of $191. Those extra top-line dollars add up fast.
What has McGuire learned in its first full year using a BDC to drive Service traffic? Service Manager Jim Swistack and Business Development Manager Dana Ferrari share the top three actions that led to their success.
What is a BDC?
Think of it as a hub that centralizes all customer communications (phone, internet and mail), both incoming and outgoing. The BDC reps capture leads — for both Sales and Service — create appointments and maintain relationships through regular follow-up. The BDC Manager also runs reports that demonstrate the efficiency of the dealership’s operations. Ultimately, the BDC exists to improve operational efficiencies and increase customer satisfaction index (CSI) ratings, thereby delivering a healthy return on investment (ROI).
Action #1: Focus on your scheduling system to make the most of your Technicians’ time.
Set aside time in your schedule between 7:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. as well as between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to stand near your Service Advisor stations and take note of what you see. Logjams, open time, confusion about who’s doing what, Advisors setting up appointments rather than meeting customers in the lane — all of these are symptoms of inefficiency, which equate to lost sales.
“The mindset is to just take care of the task at hand and get it done. My Advisors were not only trying to receive people off the drive and create estimates but also making appointments. They were way too busy,” comments Swistack. “You can imagine what it was like when Advisors were taking incoming calls. It was like a shotgun blast. We’d all be saying at the same time, ‘Sure, just bring it in. Bring it in.’ So clearly we needed a better scheduling system.”
Now Ferrari’s BDC handles the appointment-setting task, freeing Advisors to focus more on activities that drive higher CSI scores, such as conducting a thorough vehicle walkaround with a customer.
Although implementing a new scheduling system was a step in the right direction, Swistack and Ferrari still had too many customers coming in at certain times of the day, which created bottlenecks. “We’d say to the customers, ‘What time would you like to come in?’ and then we’d just give that time to them. So Dana and I kept our eyes on it for a month and, based on our observations, started to limit how many appointments per hour and per day, and we began blocking out sections of time to get night jobs started,” states Swistack.
While their new process now serves them well, Swistack says that they had to overcome some other hurdles early on.
One was harnessing the various methods that customers use to make appointments. “Not only could they call us, but they could also schedule an appointment from our website or the OEM’s website. Sometimes we got surprised with a customer we weren’t expecting,” he says. Coordinating their appointment-setting system with the OEM’s fixed that problem.
The Advisors and BDC reps also needed to learn to “speak one another’s language.” Swistack says that they asked an Advisor to tell the BDC reps exactly what information the Advisors need about their appointments so that “they could gauge what kind of day they were going to have and prepare on the Parts end.”
He and Ferrari also needed to help customers adjust to communicating with the BDC instead of the Advisor they were used to speaking with. “For years, certain customers had been calling and asking for their favorite Advisor,” states Swistack. “But we wanted them to make appointments with Nicole in the BDC. So we’d tell our customers that Nicole would be calling them, and eventually we retrained our customers.”
Action #2: Use the BDC to increase outbound calls and answer all incoming Service calls.
The BDC team that Ferrari leads is made up of a BDC Service Coordinator and two Sales reps. Each month, they receive about 50–60 inbound calls for Service and another 15 for Sales. The team’s outbound calls include reminding people about regularly scheduled service, contacting no-shows, reconnecting with lapsed customers, letting people know that their special order parts are in, following up with OnStar leads, and informing people about recalls.
It’s not a stretch to say that they’re always on the phone or emailing.
Their efforts have paid off. “Service traffic increased because of the number of outbound calls we make and the incoming calls we take. Service Advisors finally have more time to speak with the customers in the Service lane, and I am able to reach out to new customers that nobody had previously spoken with and get them into the dealership,” Ferrari notes.
The numbers prove their success.
McGuire identified and contacted 127 vehicle owners who hadn’t been in for Service in 7–12 months. Only 26 didn’t make an appointment — and those customers are still on Swistack’s and Ferrari’s radars.
Additionally, in their district, McGuire’s 7- to 12-month score for new cars being serviced for the first time is an impressive 80 percent. In comparison, the northern New Jersey average is 65.8 percent, and the New York zone average is 64.4 percent.
Ferrari credits some of their success to a CDK Global Consultant who works with them in person each month to help the team learn how to overcome obstacles for both Sales and Service.
The Consultant also coaches them in using unique ways of communicating with customers. For example, the BDC reps use a platform called BombBomb, which embeds videos of the reps into emails, thereby allowing the reps to communicate in a more personal way with their customers.
“What sets us apart is having team members who are not only great on the phone but are also not afraid of objection — and who are open to continuously learning,” Ferrari reveals.
Action #3: Maintain open lines of communication between the BDC and Service department.
When they first set up the BDC, Swistack and Ferrari met for 30 minutes at the start of each day to see what was ahead of them and if they anticipated any issues. That coordination set the foundation for a productive day, every day, in a business that’s changing rapidly.
Swistack acknowledges that the way customers initiate business today means that dealers need to change too. “Your front door is the internet now. People go online, look for inventory, see pictures and contact someone through chat. Same with Service. People go online for Service specials and to see upcoming promotions. Take tires, for example. Your BDC rep could be calling customers or taking incoming calls and say, ‘Hey, we have a rebate coming soon on tires, and the last time you were in for Service it looked like you needed new tires.’ It’s just a no-brainer,” he comments.
Swistack and Ferrari agree that keeping open lines of communication is the most important action to take, noting that everyone in Service and the BDC needs to see their leaders working as a team.
And they need to see their leaders always striving to get better. Says Swistack, “We listen to what our team members and customers are saying, and then ask ourselves how we can act on that. Dana and I will take it and run with it. The day that you think you can’t improve anymore is the day you start to fail.”
Since Service sales are key to a healthy revenue stream, as well as being more consistent than the ups and downs of new vehicle sales, it only makes sense to put in place a BDC that keeps work in the pipeline.
By focusing on an efficient scheduling system, using a BDC to handle incoming and outgoing calls, and fostering healthy lines of communication between the BDC and Service, dealerships can expect a healthy return on investment — and to pull ahead of the pack.
To learn more about how CDK Consulting can help drive profitability in your Service department, visit cdkglobal.com/solutions/consulting.