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Not sure about your BDC/Internet results? Look at your numbers!

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We meet with a lot of dealers and GMs who are worried about the results they’re seeing from their BDCs and Internet sales efforts.  They’re seeing reports from their CRM and BDC that show they’re doing a good job, but they aren’t seeing measurable gains in their market share and ranking within their peer groups – which is the best way to measure real results.  It’s understandably frustrating to spend money on a BDC, and not see a positive gain in market share to justify the increased expense.

We’ve installed many BDCs that have helped dealerships increase their sales and market share.  When they’re done right, a BDC can even help lower expenses by allowing the dealership to spend less on “scatter shot” marketing, and do a better job with more a more focused advertising effort and budget.  When we see a BDC that looks good on paper, but the overall dealership numbers aren’t getting any better, the first thing we do is to look at the numbers.

Unfortunately, a lot of CRMs are notoriously bad at providing the kind of reports that a dealer or GM needs to look at to know what’s really happening in their BDC.  When we evaluate a BDC’s performance, we don’t rely on the stock reports that are included in the standard menus, and we don’t accept the reports being turned in by the BDC strictly as submitted.  We look deep into the CRM records to see exactly what is being counted as a BDC/Internet “opportunity” and what isn’t.  Then we apply the same scrutiny to what’s being reported as a BDC generated appointment or sale.

We recently visited a Toyota dealership in a good sized metro market.  The dealer was concerned because he had a fairly large (five person) BDC that was reporting over 150 appointment shows per month, but the dealership sales ranking had actually fallen two spots since the prior year, when they didn’t have a BDC.

After we analyzed the last few months of BDC activities, we were able to see a number of reasons why the dealership really wasn’t doing as well as they thought they were.  One thing we found was that a lot of Internet leads were being inaccurately marked as “bad.”  In this case, 146 leads weren’t being counted even though there was nothing wrong with them other than the fact that they hadn’t responded yet.  Also, the number of Internet appointments made and shown included 67 from customers who were really walk-ins who had submitted a credit app online, or been entered into CRM incorrectly as an Internet lead result.  There were several other areas where the reported information didn’t match what was really happening.

When the real numbers were recalculated, it became obvious that the dealership wasn’t doing nearly as well as they thought they were.  The reports had been showing an Internet close rate of 19%, which isn’t bad, but the real numbers brought them down to 8%.  The same was true with phone calls, although not to the same extent.  Once the numbers were verified the close rate dropped from 36% to 18%.

We changed the process that the BDC was using; including the email templates, phone scripts, contact schedule and other things.  Then we spent a lot of time retraining and roleplaying with the BDC team.  Of course, we also changed the reporting process so that future reports would accurately reflect the results.

The second full month after fixing most of the problems that had been holding them back generated a REAL close rate of 17% for Internet leads, and 38% for phone leads.  We also put an aggressive outbound phone call process in place to work marketing leads and unsold showroom prospects that brought in 25 appointments, and 14 of those ended up buying.  The best result?  The dealership increased their market share by 6 percent, and moved up 4 places in the zone rankings.

If you’re concerned that you’re not getting the growth you want in spite of seeing numbers that show you should be, take the time to do the math.  It may show you that things aren’t exactly as it appears, and then you can fix the problems and flourish!