Experience Driven Communication.

BDC Revenue Streams: 360 Degrees of Coverage

Don't let complexity get in the way of capturing all of your opportunities.

The automotive business development center is a process made up of many sub-processes and structures. It’s easy to get engrossed in complexity as we try to capture and maximize every opportunity. But all complexity does get in the way of a wonderful experience.  

To improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability of your business development plan, take the complexity out of it. (Even if you do not have a business development center, you have a business development plan. Right?)  

Almost all improvement comes from simplification. When we simplify business development it reveals there are only two categories of revenue producing campaigns; retention and conquest.  

And there are only two directions for campaigns to flow: inbound and outbound.  

So now we have two campaigns, retention and conquest, and two types of processes, inbound and outbound.

Next comes the customer experience when engaging with your frontline employees across various channels, like the telephone, online through chat or social messaging, the showroom, and the service lane.  

This is where the complexity comes in if you allow it. But don’t. Keep it simple.  

Customers want speed, convenience, knowledgeable reps, and friendly service. So just focus on those things. Customer experience is your only true value proposition.  

And where there is value there is revenue.  

Here are seven simple processes that generate revenue; a helpful checklist to ensure you have all the streams covered.  

1. Inbound sales and service calls.  

This is the low-hanging fruit. Answer the phone. The person on the other end wants to give you money. Over 80% of the dealerships we have helped have missed calls. A lot of calls. Some service departments are missing as many as 40% of inbound calls. If 40% of your floor ups were not getting waited on you would have a freakin’ coronary.  

Be prepared for peak times of the day, especially in the service department. By the hour, the busiest times are 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Look at what time the phone starts ringing in service. In many cases the phone rings up to an hour before the service department opens.  

Have a missed call process if you can. It is a challenge, but it comes with many rewards. Customers who receive a callback are always happy and sometimes shocked! It is a chance to get a “wow.”  

2. Live chat.  

A customer chatting with your representative is a real-time opportunity. However, it appears that it passes unnoticed by the frontline because it is being managed remotely, by an outsourced team.  

Live chat operators need to be appointment setters, not just website ushers answering simple questions and pointing customers in the right direction. Customers chatting need to be offered an appointment, a link to set an appointment, a link to prices and personal payments on a car of interest. They also require a credit application link or whatever would be the next step in the sales or service process.  

Chat platforms can transition a customer from live chat to texting, a phone call and even streaming videos. It’s a valuable engagement and revenue stream that’s often overlooked.  

Website traffic in general is much easier to convert into a legit lead that you can follow up with by phone, text, and email.  

3. Website traffic.  

Some website visitors will call. Some will chat and some will submit a form, an Internet lead. Some will schedule a service appointment on the spot. The other 85% come and go with no engagement.  

A tool like SmartPiXL can capture up to 12 elements of information for you to immediately add to your CRM. With the right BDC software, up to 50% of those anonymous visitors can be enrolled in a phone/text and email campaign in real time!  

You spend a lot of money driving traffic to your website. Maximize that investment and get the most out of your website traffic.  

4. Social media.  

Another revenue stream with real-time opportunities. You probably have a chat tool on your social media, which is a positive thing. But customers and prospects on social media are different from website visitors. It takes a little more creativity to get the most out of this revenue stream.   

Offer specials and special events to your social media audience. Give them an incentive to engage with your team in real time. A call to action can result in solid appointments from your social media channels.  

Social media engagement is a lot like live chat. You are engaging remotely in real time with a potential customer. Possibly one of your current customers.  

5. Internet leads.  

This is the revenue stream that takes the most time, effort, and money to convert to a test drive or service appointment. Internet leads have the highest cost per sale, the highest number of tasks per sale, and the lowest connection rate of any lead. Ugh.   

Work smarter. The cost of a lead is not $21.00. It is much higher due to the structure and workforce required to maintain a respectable closing rate. On average dealers complete 60 tasks to make a sale from an Internet lead.  

Gear your connection process heavily towards the first three days. About 70 percent of customers connect within 48 to 72 hours (about 3 days). After three days the connection rate decreases dramatically. 20% up to 15 days (about 2 weeks) and 6% after that with 30% of leads never connecting.  

6. Brick and mortar traffic.  

Nowadays a showroom visit converts to a sale 35% – 50% of the time. Service traffic with no appointment generates an RO over 90 % of the time. These are acceptable conversion rates we can all live with.

Your service lane, besides being an obvious revenue stream for service, represents opportunities for sales too. A phone call prior to a service appointment can create a sales opportunity by inviting your customer to the showroom to review their upgrade options or selling their vehicle outright.

There is a really cool technology we use called SERVICEiQ. The whole process of prospecting the service lane is automated. Customers opt in and start the conversation! It;s really quite brilliant.

There is still opportunity for revenue from unsold showroom traffic and customers who decline service. A phone call is most effective and should happen within 48 hours (about 2 days). The sooner the better. Call unsold showroom traffic the same day and decline service the next day.  

Most services are declined due to time or money. A simple follow up call can get customers back in to get the work done.   

A sales customer who leaves the showroom in the vehicle they drove up in should be contacted the same day or the next day. You need someone detached from the outcome to make the call. If they had a bad vibe or experience with the salesperson they will not give honest feedback. Managers and closes are also subject to the same rules. Another voice is needed for the most accurate feedback and a chance to sell or service a car.  

7. Database marketing.  

I saved this for last for a reason. Database marketing has the lowest cost per sale and the fewest tasks per sale. Retention campaigns have the highest connection rate! The marketing cost per lead is the lowest.  

What if you knew you would not get another phone up, fresh up, internet lead or service traffic for a month? What would you do?  

You would get into your database and start dialing! This is a serious revenue stream, and you need a consistent process to market and message your current customers.  

For conquest marketing, look at your PMA for customers. It is hard to get conquest prospects to travel a long way to get to you.  

With a modest investment in data, you can identify your most valuable customers (based on lifetime value) and create a profile made up of attributes. Next, find people in your PMA who are like your target customers and market to them.  

This is an untouched revenue stream for your competitors.  

There are more revenue streams in the dealership – parts, accessories, body shop, fit and so on. The same principles still apply. It is either inbound or outbound, retention or conquest.  

Remember that retention campaigns will always cost less money, produce higher gross and CSI scores, and require less work than the conquest of new customers.  

Use this as a checklist! Every opportunity and every dollar counts.  



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