Outsourced BDCs: Great or Risky for Dealers?

Recent advancements in technology have made it more viable for automotive dealerships to outsource their lead generation strategies to third parties, minimizing overhead costs and eliminating the requirement to teach, train, and rely on in-house customer service agents.

But before we can discuss the pros and cons of outsourcing your BDC in the automotive industry, we need to understand what an automotive customer service team has historically provided.

What is a BDC? (Automotive Business Development Center)

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Historically, automotive business development centers have been a part of dealerships that primarily deal with leads. They are a mix of customer relations and customer outreach, scouting for potential customers through phone, email, and text, as well as keeping current customers loyal by frequent outreach.

The primary benefit that comes from having a BDC be the face of client relations is that they can be the public face of a dealership, engaging potential customers and making sure current ones are well taken care of.

The business development center of an automotive dealership will essentially act as the team that will generate leads, schedule sales appointments, and take a bit of work off of the shoulders of the service department.

What does an automotive BDC do?

An automotive BDC typically manages all customer interactions, from lead generation and follow-up to appointment setting and customer retention. They are in charge of making sure that inquiries get answered promptly and that customers receive the attention they need. They also manage online chats and monitor social media for potential leads.

Ultimately, an effective BDC helps to drive sales, as they are the ones who can communicate with customers and prospects in a way that is helpful, personalized, and engaging. At the same time, they allow the actual sales department at the dealership to focus on sales rather than needing to acquire and follow up on leads. A service BDC should be knowledgeable about the dealership’s products and services and be able to answer customer inquiries quickly and accurately.

A dealership BDC plays an important role in the overall success of a dealership. They are the face of customer relations, and it is their job to ensure that every customer interaction is positive and productive. By taking the time to understand each customer’s needs, they can help generate more sales and build better relationships with customers, and some even assist with automotive marketing.

With all this in mind, automotive dealerships must decide whether they are better off having an in-house BDC or outsourcing their services. Both have their pros and cons, and the decision of which is best for a particular dealership depends on the individual situation.

Regardless of what option they choose, dealerships must get the most out of their BDC services by setting clear expectations

Make outbound calls to acquire more leads

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One of the main tasks an automotive BDC performs is making outbound calls to potential customers. This can involve cold-calling, but it is often more effective to target customers based on their interests, demographics, or previous interactions with the dealership.

By making outbound calls, BDCs can help dealerships acquire more leads and build better relationships with existing customers. They should be knowledgeable about each customer’s needs, be able to answer questions quickly and accurately, and offer personalized solutions that are tailored to the customer.

In addition to calling potential customers, BDCs should also be working on follow-up calls with existing customers. This can help increase customer loyalty by providing additional support and addressing any issues they may have.

Schedule appointments

Another important task that automotive BDCs perform is setting up appointments for customers. This can range from booking service appointments from inbound calls to scheduling test drives, and even scheduling meetings with sales representatives.

BDCs should be knowledgeable about the dealership’s products and services and be able to explain them clearly to potential customers. They should also be able to provide customers with the information they need to make a well-informed decision. Additionally, they should be able to handle any customer objections or concerns quickly and effectively.

By setting appointments with potential customers, BDCs can significantly increase sales opportunities for dealerships by ensuring that each customer is given personalized attention. This helps build relationships and loyalty, which can lead to more sales and increased future customer retention.

What’s the deal with outsourcing BDC agents?

Recent advancements in technology have led to some dealerships experimenting with outsourcing their customer service BDC to a third party. This modern development is akin to car brands gradually switching over to the automotive agency model – it makes the car sales and marketing process more efficient. This can be effective for a few reasons.

The pros

An already trained customer service team

The main upside of outsourcing your BDC team is that you don’t have to hire, train, and manage a team of customer service agents. This means that the team working for your dealership is already trained and up to speed with your dealership’s services and processes. This can save you a great deal of time, money, and effort in the long run. No longer will you have to train people to handle inbound calls, prospect calls, or deal with scheduling appointments; that is all on the BDC’s shoulders now.

An increase in appointments scheduled

An outsourced BDC team typically aims for 20% conversions on outbound phone calls, which means more appointments scheduled and potential customers connected to your dealership. This can result in more sales opportunities and an overall increase in revenue for your dealership, but it will also mean that there is a greater volume of consumers being contacted, offering you the greatest bang for your buck.

Marketing flexibility

Some outsourced BDCs offer integrated marketing and sales campaigns that you, the dealer, may not have the time to run. These business development centers are typically experienced when it comes to providing a good customer experience and testing to determine the best sales and automotive marketing trends to follow. Assuming they are an established BDC, they most likely have more employees than the average dealership, meaning they can have more hands on deck to pick up calls, schedule appointments, and run marketing campaigns online. They even have the potential to help develop and iterate upon your automotive social media marketing  strategies – it all depends who you choose to outsource to.

With this taken off your team’s plate, you have more flexibility and freedom to focus on important things like the automotive service drive, ensuring that customers have the best possible first experience with your dealer group.

The cons

Not as human

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With an outsourced automotive BDC, while you may get more leads overall, there is certainly less of a human aspect to customer interactions. You can’t ensure that your customers are getting the same quality of service they would get if they were dealing with a member of your in-house team. 

While you can communicate to your service team what you need them to do, it is nearly impossible to say for certain if they are providing the service that you want. On top of that, imagine calling your local dealership and speaking with a person who can barely speak English, doesn’t know how to answer your questions, and cannot even direct you to someone who can give you the answers. This is the lack of humanity which we want to emphasize – without proper vetting of potential third parties, it can easily remove the human aspect of the automotive shopping experience, limiting the ability you have to develop deep relationships with your customers. 

This lack of ability to directly guide customer interactions exactly how you want feeds into the other con of outsourcing your BDC: a reduction in control.

Reduced control

When you outsource your BDC, there can be a reduced level of control over the quality of service customers are receiving. You don’t have direct oversight of the agents, and while you can set standards and expectations to be met, ultimately you’ll have less control over the quality of the customer’s experience. This is one of the biggest drawbacks to outsourcing and can lead to questionable customer service, which can ultimately hurt your dealership’s reputation.

Overall, outsourcing your automotive BDC team can prove to be beneficial for dealerships if you do your due diligence in research and find a reputable third-party service. Just make sure that you are aware of all the pros and cons associated with outsourcing your BDC, as well as being conscious of the quality of customer service you are providing.

You have minimal control over the quality of what they are providing; however, you can survey your customers after phone calls, for example, to get an idea of how they feel. Doing this will help ensure that your dealership is providing a good customer experience and that the customer experience you provide for your clientele is more than good enough.

One other way that you can use automation to retain customers and offer a better experience than competitors is by using Handwrytten.

How Handwrytten Can Help Automotive Dealers

In the past, customers and dealers interacted only to select a car for purchase. The best of these dealers would thank their clients afterward with some sort of token. However, now there is an incredible opportunity available to create an even more significant bond between customers and dealerships through various methods such as referrals which can help decrease spending on retaining them while also becoming closer within your community.

Incorporating a range of handwritten notes – from holiday cards to thank you cards, service reminder letters, and appreciation cards – into your customer experience plan is an excellent way to differentiate yourself from other dealers. Not only does it communicate that “we’re happy to be your friend and we care about you”, but such mailers also have a whopping 99% open rate! Investing in these can make all the difference when showing customers just how much they mean to you.

A handwritten note psychologically strikes a deeper emotional chord than a printed one. The recipient of your automotive dealership’s handwritten notes will be keenly aware that you care about them, ultimately leading to more customer retention and referrals from satisfied customers. This proves the power handwriting holds in making long-lasting impressions on those who matter most: Your clients!

Car dealerships are in for a special treat with our platform. We can easily integrate your DMS to automate sending out handwritten cards that acknowledge the needs and wants of potential or existing customers. It’s something unheard of in the automotive industry, but having personalized notes with an emotional punch has tremendous benefits from the customer’s perspective.

Check out our handwritten notes automotive dealers if you are interested in automatically sending handwritten cards to your customers.

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