It’s been a long, strange trip, but with the unemployment rate edging down to 6 percent in March, we’re seeing our economy start to bounce back. Dealerships across the country are regaining momentum and seeking to stimulate business development. An effective strategy is implementing an internal BDC for sales and/or service.
The service BDC is of particular interest right now as the global shortage of microchips and sky-high prices for new vehicles are pushing more consumers to hold onto older vehicles or shop used car lots. This situation makes service departments the logical go-to option to make up any profits lost by lack of new inventory. Service BDC agents can make hundreds of outbound calls per day to drum up business from new and repeat customers.
However, BDCs and call centers are challenging places to work. This is reflected in the higher-than-average agent turn-over rate of between 30 and 45 percent. That’s a lot of coming and going, and even worse, wasted time and money spent on training and onboarding.
Careful attention to hiring, compensation, and onboarding, can stop that churn in its tracks and help you establish a well-oiled and profitable BDC.
The low unemployment rate coupled with the fact that many dealerships are bringing employees back on board makes hiring more challenging. You can immediately broaden the candidate pool by opening your search process to candidates without automotive experience or knowledge. After all, that can be taught.
It’s better to hire for intrinsic personality traits that translate to excellent performance. In my experience, great agents exhibit integrity, adaptability, tenacity, self-motivation, and clear communication skills.
During the interview process, ask candidates to describe how they embody the two or three traits that matter most to your business (asking about them all may be overwhelming). Encourage them to share real examples from school or a previous job.
Keep your dealership culture in mind and assess each candidate for best-fit. Not sure what your culture is? Take a couple hours and write down your business values, goals, and beliefs. Share with upper-level management and boil it down to a short paragraph. You can take inspiration from this list of 27 companies with strong cultures and download the free e-book on how to create core values that will inspire employees.
A team that spends their days speaking to people and solving problems need a boss who takes care of them. Great workers expect excellent work environments with a supportive culture, supportive managers, and the tools to help them get the work done.
You can make your dealership more attractive to candidates by implementing practical tools like contact center software that automates tasks and provides detailed reporting on productivity, campaign results, and call results.
The best candidates who take pride in excellent work and want to be rewarded accordingly, will welcome the most current technology. If you’re serious about hiring and retaining the best employees, you’ll need to compete with the best call centers for talent. The right culture and tools will get you better agents.
The right person who makes good, thoughtful calls is worth a lot. To be competitive, expect to offer $14 to $18 per hour plus benefits. Bonuses on top of your hourly rate are an effective performance motivator. Many dealers award a set amount to agents who exceed their appointment set and outbound dial goals. Ultimately, unless you operate in an expensive city like New York, you’re looking at a monthly salary per agent of $3,500 plus benefits.
As you think about compensation, bear in mind that contact center software with an automated dialer will dramatically improve agent productivity and increase your ROI. Agents using an automated dialer achieve as many as 300 outbound dials a day, because the dialer eliminates manual tasks like deciding who to call next. Agents using CRM click-to-call functionality make around 120 outbound calls per month.
Shut down employee churn with a thorough and thoughtful onboarding program. Remember, you’re hiring people that you want to be long-term members of your team. So, keep the focus on the people. Give your new agents interactive, social experiences where they can meet their co-workers and management. Employees who feel welcome and part of the team from the very beginning will be more likely to stay with your business.
When it comes to training for the technical side of answering calls, assign new agents a peer mentor to show them the ropes and answer questions as they come up. It can be intimidating to ask questions when you’re new. This helps overcome the problem quickly.
Another effective strategy is nesting training. New agents start taking calls in a controlled, live environment with ongoing monitoring and coaching on every call. As they get comfortable answering calls, you can gradually move them into a more independent environment.
Cloud-based contact center software is especially helpful for this type of training. Agents aren’t tied to a desk or particular workstation, so you can move people around as needed to create the nesting environment.
Work with the BDC manager to design ongoing check-ins and trainings for new agents. There’s nothing more demoralizing than feeling overwhelmed and unsure about hitting expectations and targets – regular check-ins highlight areas for improvement before they become bigger problems. These check-ins will happen less often as time goes by, but your manager should do them weekly for at least the first couple of months.
With careful attention to hiring, compensation, and onboarding, you can cultivate a great BDC team to supercharge business development. Focus on a supportive environment, competitive compensation, and practical tools to help agents be more productive and effective, for a well-oiled and profitable BDC.
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