The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 7 months ago

Carla Wade: How BDC's Are Bridging The Gap


As dealerships move into a growing online retailing environment, it's more important than ever to have a process that can bridge the gap between online visitors and in-store customers.

Carla Wade, Senior Director of Sales Development at Automotive Mastermind Inc., joins to share her vantage point, and the experience she gained while working as the Business Development Manager at Mercedes-Benz Manhattan. 

BDC reps play an integral role in the online buying process, and assisting customers during critical moments of their buying journey. In this episode, Carla shares some practical ways, BDC reps can think out of the box.

Noteworthy topics from this episode:

2:48 - Why did you choose BDC?

4:18 - What do you recommend dealers focus on when it comes to BDC?

6:14 - What are some key components that are crucial to the day-to-day activities of the BDC?

9:10 - Importance of healthy culture.

11:52 - What tools would you recommend to keep the team connected?

17:55 - Are people likely to adapt to digital retail?

20:38 - What should be considered to make sure the online retail model actually works?

23:00 - How does one actually put themselves in the customer seat? 

Hey gang! Welcome to this episode ofthe dealer Playbook, a podcast that explores what it takes to create athriving career right here in the retail auto industry. I'm your host,Michael Cirillo, joined today by my pal carla wade from automotive mastermind.We're going to be discussing how to reimagine the BBC in a customer firstera. Look, if there's one thing we understand well in the dealership world,like many businesses were prone to experiencing interdepartmental silos.Perhaps one of the biggest silos, however, to exist is the in storeexperience versus what the customer perceives it will be like from theironline shopping activities, bridging the gap between the dealerships onlineand in store experience is more crucial than ever, especially with the growingdemand of virtual and online retailing. The catalyst for evolution can verywell be your business development center or BDC joining us today is Carlawait a 20 year veteran of the car business who is joining us to help reimagine the BDC in a consumer first era carla. I am so excited about this.Thanks so much for joining me on the dealer playbook podcast. Hi Michael, I'm really, really excitedto be here today. This is, I mean 20 years in the industry, you've seen some,you've seen some stuff and I'm curious. When did you, I mean, why, why B. D. C.Why is that the kind of the avenue that you chose? What, what's your affinityto be D. C. Well, it, uh, 20 years is being conservative, but I like the wayit kind of, you know, masks my actual age. Um, you know, I kind of evolvedinto BDC quite frankly. Um, you know, I started a little bit lower on the wrongand you know, I've done almost anything there is to do at a dealership besides,you know, kind of P. D. I. And prep the cars for delivery, which of course Iknow a lot of folks in the industry, you know, kind of get that that kind ofgrassroots training as well. But I found the BBC to really kind of be myniche and I grew a massive affinity for it as I was running a sales and serviceBDC together. And really at that time this is like when internet firststarted to bloom and people were finally kind of shopping for carsonline at the kind of the peak of that era kind of opening up. There were somany possibilities there that really excited me with that role. It's surprising to me how manydealerships don't have BBC, especially this day and age, especially when youthink about, gosh, the car Vontaze of the world,which really are just really big B. D.

C. S, what could you say? Perhaps to adealership who has almost a hybrid or quasi Btc? What should they be focusingon? Perhaps in their individuals that they're looking to hire or a structureto really set them down the right path in BDC. Yeah. So that's a greatquestion. Michael. I think a lot of, yeah, it depends on your dealership andhow you operate. Right. One of the great things about a BBC is that it canset the tone and create a wonderful experience for your customers. Andthese days, people are less transactional as they are kind of, youknow, looking for that right experience, feeling like they're, they're getting awhite glove service. So if you're a smaller dealership where maybe you're alittle bit more bespoke, you don't have a lot of inventory. Maybe your nicheand your sales reps can handle that inbound lead being taken care of in avery timely fashion. As well as answering the phone, making sure emailsare responded to in a timely fashion, then perhaps you don't have that needfor BBC. But if you are a tad bit on the larger side, you've got a lot ofbusiness turning through month over month. This is the best way to makesure that you're increasing deal of loyalty as well as enhancing thatexperience for every customer that explores your store. Yeah, I love that.Especially as it pertains to enhancing. I love that that choice of words carlabecause often we we use terminology. I've observed like fulfilling customerneeds or satisfying customer needs. But I love this idea of enhancement becausewe acknowledge there are already receiving some type of an experience.We're here to make it so much better than they've ever anticipated andthat's so crucial. So what are some of the, in the spirit of enhancing acustomer's experience? What are some of the key components you would submit arecrucial to? I guess the day to day activities of the BBC. Yeah, sure. So I think putting yourselfin the consumers seat, right? So how do you like to be taken care of if yousubmit an email to a business or an organization, how quickly would youlike your response to come back? How knowledgeable would you like thatperson to be on the other end of the phone? Um, you know, how convenient arethey making this transaction for you? And, and these are some of the keycomponents where BDC can really help make that difference. Yeah. You talkabout how the BBC essentially is a conduit to the showroom floor. Whatdoes that look like? You know, I'm thinking about the day to dayoperations of a dealership. How does the BDC, especially with all of thesilos, right? Sales rarely knows what marketing is doing. Marketing kind ofhas an overall agenda, but maybe F and...

I and and parts and service, they haveno clue about any of this stuff. How can the B. D C B. I guess the linchpinor the, the sun by which the solar system revolves? Yeah, so, um so sooften, you know, in a dealership it's difficult to kind of create thosesynergies, right? And instead of looking as your BBC as a separatecenter or a separate department, make sure that they have the right productknowledge and understand some of the ancillary positions of your over salesrep. Right? So for example, you know, your product very well, you know whatinventory you have in stock, right? Um you can guide the customer throughpotentially the difference between one model versus the next. You have someindustry intel. Um So this way they can almost give the customer the verybasics of what they need um to help complete their shopping, create arelationship with sales rep and BBC. That is a hand in glove typerelationship. There's no competition here, right? Um The BBC should be happyto hand off their customers to a sales rep and a sales rep feel confident thatthis customer is ready and prepped and armed for what they need to make thatpurchasing decision. Um I love that, you know, any time we bring up anythingto do with culture and a healthy workplace culture. I just perk up Ithink, you know, especially on the DPB for those listening, it's importantthat you understand in seven plus years now of producing the show, Over 75% ofall guests on the show speak to the importance of a healthy culture. Wecan't ignore this. How do you, in your experience from your observations? Howdo you create this hand in glove, as you say, experience in something thathas traditionally been viewed as a shark tank? How do we really createthat relationship? Yeah. So it's it's get them involved and don't excludethem. So you're having your sales meeting, you're having that mondaymorning jump start your having that saturday morning meeting before the bigweekend sale. Um, get your BDC in that meeting with you so that theyunderstand what's happening at your showroom. They feel an integral memberand part of your organization and create those synergies. That knowledgeis power and making them feel involved. Makes reps um, a lot more passionateabout what they're doing and why they're doing at this. This idea. Back, I think one ofmy first jobs, as just in the workforce was at best buy now in Canada. It usedto be called Future Shop and it was very shark tank. E however, everysingle morning I remember we had a...

...meeting where they would walk througheverything that was going on and those of us who were paying attentionexcelled. This was commissioned sales. So, back in the day, it was allcommission sales. Um it wasn't, you know, no pressure this and that. It waslike, you are buying a tv today, pal. Yeah, But you also made really good. Iremember I was 17 year old, I was the youngest commission salesperson inCanada. They traditionally didn't hire 17 year olds to do commission sales. Umwhen I was like, sorry pal, I I am not slinging cds, I don't work in the, likeI'm making money and but those of us that paid attention in those meetings,understanding that they were there to make sure everyone was in the loop, Weexcelled, those that were like, man, whatever. They just sat there in thecorner waiting for customers to come from them. They come to them. They hadno clue. You know, what was going on and how we were able to stack deals andhow we were able to stack products and incentives and and all of those sortsof things. And I see this is very much the case, you know, in dealership worldwhere there's just such a lack of communication. Do you outside of thatmorning meeting? Are there any other communication methods that you foundwork really well and just keeping the team connected? Yeah. So that's therelationship between, you know, the BDC and just your showroom floor, right?Your sales reps. Now in my, my old organization, what we had was we had afew reps that were dedicated to either the internet sales and I'm putting upquotation marks here, right? Internet sales and that and that type of thing.And that was those sales reps that really kind of understood thedifference between this type of customer versus, you know, the personwho walks right in through your showroom door. They understand thatthat customers potentially already been online and shopping you against manyothers, right? Kind of arming themselves with information. Have a tonof questions that some may may throw you a curveball. So we had dedicatedreps that were ready to receive a message from the BBC that the customerwas coming in um, or that they had someone on the phone that was ready totake the sale a little bit further and they were really well in concert withthat particular BBC. Red helping smooth that transaction for the customer,which seems almost seamless as if they were talking to the same person or long.And so are they actually going through the some sort of a handoff? And what Imean by that is, I think most consumers, when when somebody picks up the phone,they automatically just assume they're talking to a sales rep. Right? So, sois this actually saying, like, hey, my name is Michael and I work in our, youknow, concierge department to make sure...

...that you have all the infant, Like howdoes that look? Are they making it known that they're in a differentdepartment than sales? Mhm. Yeah. So I used to go as far as having my BBC repsgreet their inbound customers on the showroom floor and make that intro tothe sales rep. That used to go over so incredibly well. Because sometimes, um,customers shop online for so long that they've created a relationship with myBBC rep, right? They've become someone that they, they kind of trust and lookto for information. So having that personal hand off when it's possible,right, allows that person to feel like they're entrusting me in Michael'shands. I must be in good hands and you've already transferred a lot ofthat information that you've gotten from your customer to the sales rat. Sotherefore the customer doesn't feel like they're starting from ground zeroall over again with the transaction. Mm I love that. In this, um age of digitalretail, the impending doom of closing dealerships all over the world and movethe room model or the carbon. What can dealerships, in your opinion, be doingtoday to fortify perhaps against something like that and or get with theprogram? Yeah, well thank goodness that cars are still sexy enough, that peopledo still want to see them in person or potentially give them a little bit of atest drive. But you're right. There is this, um, one component that we cannotavoid, right? And that is the Covid kind of really opened the doors to thisright, where we were kind of forced to go the digital route where leaning on,you know, uh, data and analytics and creating platforms or being flexiblewith our model to allow customers to feel safe and have options when itcomes to their, their buying, um, needs by opening up digital retailing. So Ican tell you that like, you know, 80% of dealers currently have adapted tosome kind of creative delivery method out of out of the pandemic and that'snot going to go away, right? So of people that we've actually um surveyedas well, about 65% of people said that they purchase their vehicles completelyonline, digital retailing and all, and they'd like to do so again. So eventhough we may go back to a sense of normalcy very soon, um, this newdigital retailing age may be something that will stick around for some time.Car Vonna and those folks are creating a convenience and that's what customersare looking for. Something that meets their needs. I can come in store andShopify like I can have the car delivered to me and while I shop onlineif I like. So being flexible is really going to allow you to stay ahead of thegame and make sure that you're...

...delivering again, going back to thoseexperiences that your consumers looking for. Yeah, I love how each and everyone of your sentiments is create something. You can do this too justbecause they're doing it doesn't mean you have to just sit here and mope andwine and cry that somebody else has figured out perhaps a better way youcan do it too. Um, I often look at dealerships and I go, man, you haveeverything you need to pull off a model like this. And I think that's why weadvocate so much for dealers taking control. Stop stop spending so muchenergy worrying about the room or the car Vonna of the world and start takinga lot of this in your control. But let me ask you this, should we, you know,it's easy to listen to a podcast or go to a conference where the subjectmatter leaders pontificate over the data and things of that nature. Andwhat happens often is we think in terms of absolute oh man, this is absolutelythe way that it is everywhere in the world, everyone is doing it this way. How much of this should we be factoringinto the context of our individual markets? And what I mean by that is,you know, they're small town usa I feel like just has a different, a little bitof a different heartbeat than some of the metropolitan areas, our people aslikely to adapt to digital retailing as quickly in some of those smallermarkets. What is your your viewpoint on that? Yeah. And and that's like how weopened up the podcast today, right, when we're talking about why doesn'tevery dealership have a BBC? It really depends on your demographic, um youknow, the needs of your customer and, and it's not a one size fits allsolution. So though in some of our smaller markets, it may be easier ormore pleasing for a customer to go into the dealership and have that one on oneexperience? Um It may not, they may, you know, it may not feel like they'recompeting for time as much as they would, where you've got a showroomthat's filled with customers and you could be waiting around for hours andhours just to either be addressed or to get your transaction completed. Um, soyou absolutely have to prepare for the model that's best for you, but if acustomer would have turned around and ask you for that, you know that digitalexperience, are you equipped and are you ready to be able to do so? Couldyou stand to lose them to a competitor if you don't adapt? So I would sayhaving at least arming yourself with the knowledge or preparing yourselfwith the ability to be able to do so if needed um, would be really importanteven if it's not a regular occurrence. Yeah, I love that. I think,...

...gosh, there's so much information outthere. Being able to apply it to the context of your circumstances I thinkis just such brilliant advice Carla. Um, let me ask you this kind of as we winddown the conversation here a little bit, what do I say? I'm a BDC rep or say I'm, I'mthe listener, I'm a dealer and I've got a B D. C. And I'm hearing thisconversation and I see what's happening and I'm one of the 80% that have somesort of creative delivery. I guess what I'm asking istraditionally our industry kinda latches onto buzz topics or buzzwordsor, you know, right now, obviously it's all digital retail and often it's, it'seasy for us to assume that all we need is the tool, the tool will lasso thesun, the moon and the stars for us, we know that that's not the case. You saidsomething, you triggered this thought process for me, which is prepared for amodel that's best for us or, you know, whoever is listening, what do we need to be consideringprocess wise to make sure that an online retail model actually works andthat we're not just putting all of our faith in a tool. Yeah, absolutely. So, um, uh, for me, the auto industry is stillabout relationships, right? And relationship building is where youbegin, um, to cultivate some of your best uh, loyalty practices. Right? Sojust the attention to details, you can have a process put in place, um, withvery little as long as you, uh, you know, stand by the times that peopleare being responded to the information that you're arming your reps to be ableto provide to your customers, allowing them the bandwidth to be flexible,Right? If a customer says they don't want to come in, but they want to testdrive your car, they don't feel safe. Can you take the car to their home andallow them to test drive it in their area, right? Um, and show them some ofthose, you know, safe practices that you're doing in your dealership. Isthere maybe a video walk around with your iphone, right? That you can showthem the ins and outs of the vehicle. So you give them a deeper dive withoutthem having to leave their home or come into your dealership straight away.There are little things that we can do that our resources, we have a readilyavailable to all of us right now that can help you enhance that process.Think outside the box, right? And again, putting yourself in that consumer seat,knowing or thinking about how you would like to be handled in that situation,can be the jump start to creating any well thought through process. I love it.I know you have a hard stop. I have one...

...more question for you to that effect.Um, putting yourself in the customer's seat. This is going to sound like a crazydumb question, but it's one that I've been asked. I don't think it's actuallya dumb question. I think it's, you know, just our heads are in the trenches somuch in our business that sometimes it can be difficult to anticipate thecustomer seat. What should I be thinking about? How does one putthemselves in the customer seat? Actually, what do they need to askthemselves to do so appropriately? Yeah, don't be afraid to ask questions.Right. Um, I run a sales team today and uh, we do a lot of cold calling, whichis not, it's not fun and it's not easy, but the best way to get a conversationgoing or to keep someone on the phone or to dig deeper is to Oxfam discoveryquestions. Right. Um, what is it you're looking for? Why are you looking forthis car? Do you have any, you know, alternate if that's not available? Um,what's your time frame look like? What is, uh, you know, what's the usage forthe car? Is that businesses it personal? Is it to call around Children? Do youhave hobbies? Those types of things? Not only will the customer feel likeyou actually give a crap about them because you want to know more aboutthem than you are kind of shoving the car in front of them. But it will alsohelp you to understand more about that customers needs than saving you timeand making sure you can find that best suited vehicle to, to suit those needsas well. So just, just be curious and asks questions and get your customerinvolved in the transaction. Awesome carla. This was so much fun. I'm soglad that we were able to catch up and that I was able to take loads of notesfrom this conversation. I'm a ferocious note taker. I just love taking us. Um,how can those listening get in touch with you? Oh yeah, So we're easy tofind. Uh, so automotive mastermind dot com, That's our website. Um, you canget in touch with us then you can request a demonstration if you'd liketo see how we do it. We put out a lot of content as well, Michael, that isabsolutely free. We have playbooks, we've got recordings from past webinarsthat we've done on some thought leadership stuff. It's all housed onour website as well and we welcome anyone to come and enjoy any of thatcontent. We've got there to share amazing carla. Thanks so much forjoining me on the dealer playbook podcast. Michael, your great, thank youso much for having me. I'm Michel Cirillo and you've beenlistening to the dealer playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, pleaseclick the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now, leave arating or review and share it with a colleague. If you're ready to make bigchanges in your life and career and want to connect with positive,nurturing automotive professionals, join my exclusive DPB Pro community onfacebook. That's where we share...

...information, ideas and content thatisn't shared anywhere else. I can't wait to meet you there. Thanks forlistening.

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