Even before the onset of the global pandemic and subsequent need for contactless automotive retail services, work-from-home employees, and the absolute requirement for more effective answering and handling of inbound calls, the need for outsourced service call centers was already seeing increased demand.
Properly handling service calls and providing an excellent customer experience is perhaps the biggest driver to enhancing gross profit there is an automotive dealership. A staff member, BDC associate, salesperson, or service adviser who improperly handles customer communications can quickly translate into fewer repair orders or vehicle sales, reduced customer satisfaction and poor reviews, and lost repeat and referral business.
Proactive Dealer Solutions were pioneers in the establishment of in-house BDCs and have established more than 4,000 Business Development Centers for automotive retailers across North America. We have firmly believed for more than 27 years in the efficacy and efficiency of an in-house BDC, but there are reasons some may not consider them a good fit for their business operations. These concerns are why we created the Proactive Dealer Solutions Virtual BDC for Business. This service delivers tremendous increases in gross profit, with a fraction of the capital expenses and far less risk.
If there’s anyone who knows and understands the objections to an outsourced BDC, it’s PDS because we’ve set up thousands of in-house BDCs and enhanced the effectiveness of many thousands of others.
Many retailers want an in-house BDC because it gives management control over all leads, policies, and procedures. It’s difficult to control and measure what’s not at your dealership. You must rely on reports, and measurements provided by a vendor and your own team, that may or may not be equipped to provide that data or at least in a timeframe that is useful.
However, that control comes at a cost. Recruiting BDC managers and associates is a time-consuming and capital intensive process. It can cost $10,000 to recruit, train, and have a new hire operating at peak efficiency, and that doesn’t include salary and benefits.
So when we developed the PDS Virtual BDC for Service, we addressed each of these core concerns from the perspective of a retailer. Many in senior leadership here have spent many years at dealerships in various sales, service, and management positions, so we understand the concerns and developed our services accordingly.
We created Virtual BDC for Service because inbound and outbound calls for service related matters are the most numerous, often require immediate appointments, and, when poorly handled, quickly results in a lost opportunity as the consumer has many other options for service available.
Regardless if you use an in-house BDC or have outsource it, it will require an interface with your DMS and CRM, as well as sophisticated call monitoring technology. We continually improve our Virtual BDC systems and processes as the result of request from our clients and new technology as it is unveiled and rolled out. Our proprietary systems utilize speech-to-text analytics, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, and other tech ingredients, that our Virtual BDC associates are trained on and become experts at utilizing. This gives you an edge in the marketplace. Rest assured if your operation is not using these tools, a dealership in your DMA is.
There are three key reasons for using a Virtual BDC — Staffing, Performance, and Return on Investment. Let’s look at each one a little more in depth.
Automotive retailers are keenly aware of the cost of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, employees. Those direct costs do not include the cost of having a Human Resources department, taxes, benefits, insurances, sick pay, and, importantly — turnover. Getting someone up to speed to be able to field calls, gather necessary information, set appointments, and follow-up on calls effectively takes time and money. Given competitive salaries and benefits annual costs can reach $40,000 to $50,000 for an associate and as much as $80,000 to $100,000 for a manager.
The benefits of a Virtual BDC really hit home here. When using a Virtual BDC of trained professionals who are carefully monitored, and are well-versed in your store’s benefits, policies and procedures, can pay tremendous dividends. Managers can focus on other activities in other departments and not be concerned with hiring, training, turnover, and will never have to fill in personnel if someone becomes ill or has to take time off.
Finding the right professionals to field inbound service calls, make outbound calls for sales or service promotions, and schedule appointments for open recalls is not easy. These jobs take the right people with skill sets that are not acquired easily. Our Virtual BDC associates have been hired for their communication skills, ability to think, and focus on customer service. Think Chic-Fil-A associates well-versed in automotive retail. These associates work off the most sophisticated Customer Relations Management (CRM) platform in the marketplace. Proactive Dealer Solutions Virtual BDC uses the same tools we provide to the many thousands of retailers with in-house BDCs. Our platform incorporates Call Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Voice Recognition, Call Tracking, and much more to deliver the highest success rates in appointment sets and gross profit increases in the industry.
Our Virtual VDC for Service now has more than 18 months of data for our dealers to use to determine the efficacy of our platform. As in life, there are no guarantees in business, but we consistently see ROIs of 10x and 12x. So if you decide to dip a toe into our Virtual BDC for Service platform with a $1,000 per month investment, you are very likely to see a $10,000 to $12,000 increase in monthly gross revenues. A $10,000 a month investment could easily see a return as much a $1.2 million over the course of 12 months.
While our Virtual BDC for Service isn’t for all retailers, we’ve found a broad spectrum of retailers who have benefited from our services. Some smaller single-roof or small group retailers find our services a perfect fit. It checks all the boxes for them by keeping staffing at manageable levels, driving performance and improving the overall customer experience, and having a very enticing return on investment. However, many larger automotive retailers, including publicly traded companies with multiple rooftops carrying many brands, have found tremendous benefit with our program. Many have opted to use our services for outbound calling for special sales or promotions. We can work directly with an existing BDC or as a standalone outsourced service.
It’s common for a dealership to see swift increases in service and sales appointments, and repair orders when using a Virtual BDC.