The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode 484 · 4 months ago

Marija Cvetkovska: Creating an Evolved and Integrated BDC and Sales Department

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Marija Cvetkovska is a seasoned dealer group BDC Director and paid campaign manager, and joined the show to share valuable wisdom about how retail car dealers can learn how to listen and hear their customer and respond to them with the information they are seeking regardless of their BDC, Internet Team Set Up.

What we discuss in this episode:

  1. The importance of breaking out of your comfort zone and challenging the way things have always been done at the dealership level.
  2. If you don't embrace what's happening in the future or try and go against it, you will lose. Marija encourages dealers to embrace change and constantly seek reinvention.
  3. The dealers who have been around for 50+ years have been able to do so by slowly adapting to the "new normal."
  4. In order to evolve, car dealers must look inward. It's about acknowledging where they are at today and discover small ways to improve each way.
  5. Marija shares the best way to transform a sales and marketing team into a revenue team. That way BDC teams are integrated with car sales people and are able to offer a much better, frictionless experience for customers.
  6. When BDC reps are able to see customer interactions first hand, the increase of empathy will empower them to make changes to their workflow and vice versa. 

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Thanks, Marija Cvetkovska

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  2. Click here to let Michael know about your number one takeaway from this conversation

The car business is rapidly changing and modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo and together we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealership and life in the retail automotive industry. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed to help you grow. This is the dealer playbook, all right, gang there are many conversations happening amongst professionals in the retail auto industry about what will take to not just survive but thrive during these very interesting times. Right now, we're seeing O em's rushing to create some competition within the director consumer buying segment, while there are also rumblings about the mass consolidation on the horizon. But if there's one thing we know for certain, it's that there is a bigger fish. We must all focus on the customer. That's who the biggest fish has always been and, if you're asking me, it's who it will always be. At the end of the day. It's our job to remove friction from the buying journey, and fortunately that's something within each of our control. Friction is the silent killer of the deal and of the relationship. Joining me today is a seasoned BDC director turned pay ad campaign manager who's years of experience and mission to provide an enhanced customer service experience have definitely paid off. Maria, thank you so much for joining me on the dealer playbook podcast. Hi there, finally it's finally happened. It's finally happening. Yes, I'm really, really glad to be here and, you know, join you and discuss this wonderful industry of ours. So I'm super excited and happy to be here. Thank you for having me. Amazing. Well, I'm delighted you're here. There's there are a...

...lot of conversations happening, aren't there? And everybody never really gets to the solution. It's always right. Don't you feel like there's a little bit of fear mongering always? and Oh, dear GM and Car Bravo, and and what is that going to look like? And and Oh, did you catch the keynote at cees where they didn't say go and buy the Silverado from your local dealer, they said go to our you know, go to chevycom. My question for you along these lines are, I mean, first and foremost, I'm curious what your thoughts are about the current landscape and retail automotive. Well, first of all, we all knew that this is going to happen. This is not anything you okay, this talks about, you know, ohm's going and selling directly to the public existed in past ten years, well, since TUSLA started doing it. So this is nothing new. Then we have this whole switch or this whole push to going electric, will buy all manufacturers across the board and new players coming into the you know, arena. And then we had, you know, the offset or onset of this, market places coming up. You know already of successful or not less than not even go there, like Courana and room and all of them, disraptors, whatever we call them, but they're there. You know, they're part of it. So the Om's and the dealers had to figure something out where you know they are going to be able to compete, because if they are not, somebody else out there. Well, and we have been talking about this for probably past ten years, it got really, really fast tracked past covid and pandemic and like we kind of learned that this is possible and it can be done with the right process and when the right people and just with the right tools. And you know, once you marry the process with the correct tool and then you know, implement training, you can do anything you really...

...want. The dealers on the other side are kind of like always looking at all of this and they're like, Oh my God, this is going to end us, and it's I mean, like how many changes have been in just less last one years? You know, like they looked at, you know, the rise of Internet and Internet leads as a scary big wolf. Nothing really happened. You know that. You know people of you know, giving the price over the phone was like back like five years ago, was like, Oh my God, we should not do that. And now we have digital retail tool that is able to spit out that price but in seconds, and majority of the dealers are fine with that option. So, as we are changing, I think that both dealers and Om's need to almost like have a sit down and talk and kind of, you know, figure out what is the base best solutions that will work out for, you know, either side, because o ams cannot sell by themselves. Neither could can dealers without the support of o am on both like advertising front and just like logistics and everything else. Yeah, don't you? It kind of makes me think about how US living breathing creatures are the only things in the universe resistant to expansion. Correct like, the universe is constantly expanding, solar systems expanding, stars expanding, vegetation expanding, you know what I mean. And then it when it comes to us, we have to legitimately be forced to expand because because we emotionally feel the discomfort associated with it. But you know, as you were talking at made me think of a couple of things. First, what did horse and carriage dealers feel like when cars started to take over? And, coincidentally, what processes must they have had to adapt to in order...

...to either stay in business and evolve or go out of business? Because that's really the proposition that's in front of us right now. You had mentioned process and and what I think is interesting about this is we're at a time where those who have been shouting process from the rooftops and being ignored for the last twenty years or more are now at the forefront of the conversation, because we realize that the only way to actually compete, thrive and survive is to not just talk about process, anymore but actually implemented. And we'll get to some actionable stuff here in a minute. But I'm curious, you know, based on everything that you've just said, what should the dealer be focused on? Because we, we are absolute beings in that everything is going to be the worst, right, like you remember when, I don't know many people remember, how web two rolled out. It's not what we thought it was going to be. And now here we are with web three and metaverse and, you know, like all of these different things, and I'm almost certain that it's not going to end up being what we think today it's going to actually end up being, because it's just going to morph over and over again. So I'm curious from that perspective, hype aside, what do you believe the number one most important thing dealership should be focused on today? Embrace the change and not fear the change, like on that level of you know, from anywhere from receptionist to you know like a BDC room to you know, desk, finance, you know, service drive all of it, because the change is coming and if you don't embrace it and you're scared of it and you try to just basically they ignore it or like go against it, you'll lose...

...either way. So in my opinion is just embrace it, because you never know, like you said, with the Internet, would like anything else in life, every time we relax, let me just let it happen, ninety nine point nine percent of the time is better than will be expected. Sight like. Just let it be. And some dealers have been around for, you know, forty, fifty, sixty, eighty plus years, MMM, because they were able to adapt to the change and embrace it and take it on and do what they do best, which is take care of their customer. And when they take care of their customer while slowly adapting to the new normal, it's just there's everybody is going to win. I don't see it any other way. It's funny. Probably I want to say March of two thousand and nineteen, I gave a keynote in Toronto. You remember, two years ago it was all about disruption. That's what we're all talking about. Disruption, disruption, disruption. So I gave a keynote on disruption, the concept of what you just said about how we need to focus more on the customer and how doing so would allow us to ebb and flow with the changing tides. I think, and maybe this is me being critical of myself, I think I bombed like I think I don't think I did myself like did justice to this conversation. But what I do think is interesting, to your point, is that here we are two years later. None of us in March two thousand and nineteen or two thousand and eighteen knew what was on the the impending doom that was on the horizon. But look at what's happening. To your point, those that stayed focused on the customer did some really incredible things during the pandemic and during lockdowns. They repurpose their dealerships and they're they're...

...their fleet of of you know, shuttles to become grocery delivery and, you know, human transport and like so many different things. And so I love this concept of evolving and embracing the change. But then I also think about the constant. You know, as things Morphin as thing is evolved, there's going to be something, there will be a few elements of the old way of doing things that pass through to the new way of doing things, one of which you just said, which is the customer experience and the customer service. So in your opinion, from from your years now in being a business development director at the dealership level. Where do we start? What can what are some things that dealership can do starting today to kick into motion and enhanced or an improved customer experience? I mean introspection, just like looking at the things and themselves as an organization as they are and where they are at right now, and what they can do today to get better in the future, because you know the change that's coming and that they nobody can escape is either, you know, ten steps ahead or one step ahead. Regardless, you still have to do that first step. You still have to do the step number one. So for some dealerships that's basically going and looking at all the vendors they have and looking at all the spend they have, both on marketing and lead acquiring and, you know, just general like finance spenders, whatever they're using. They need to like look at all of that. They need to look at their structure as as far as you know, how do they operate? Who answers the phones? Why? Who is you know it? Do they have like a delivery person? Do they have like inhouse marketing team?...

Do you want? Do they want to move into that direction. So like all those things, and then figure out what kind of business they want to be. The next step would be like a case study with their customer base. Like they see their customers on a daily basis. Maybe not as much in as in a shore room for sales, but they see their customers in service every single day. I to the general managers, sales managers, finance managers are there. Get up, you know, from your office, Walk to the service drive and talk to your customers. That's where your answer is. What you need to change. Your customers will tell you what do they want you to do differently so they can keep coming back for service and then, obviously, you know, buying their next vehicle for themselves or for anybody else in their family. And just don't forget, like just because they have one car in their household, that doesn't mean that they cannot bring you ten, fifteen, twenty different customers of the people they know. You know, will referral business is the best business there is. Sorry, go out and talk to them and then, you know, sit down with your team, with, you know, the your team of managers, and include your team that is not managers in the conversation and say okay, here where we act, this is where we need to go. How do we do that? But actionable process of one, two, three to get where we want to go as a team. And what are the things that you can take up to help with get there? And I think there's like nothing more like humble or like better for general managers direct their sales managers to do them, to include their team, and I guarantee you everybody on the team would, you know, want to jump in and help because they're frustrated, just as the customers are frustrated. And lack of communication between, you know, management and sales and BDC and service, and then lack of communication of like service riders to customers because they don't get enough of a say or enough of a...

...push from their management to say or deliver some type of information that they wouldn't because it part of their process, is just hurting everybody. So, like, I think it needs to starts with introspection and creating a process the implementing it and just go for it. You said something that really intrigued me, and excuse me. Our first COVID podcast where the host is infected and I wrote down the word reviews. When you said. Your customers will tell you I wrote down the word reviews because what came to my mind is when I go to Amazon, the first thing I do, especially if it's a product or a company that I'm not certain of, is I just click the reviews thing right at the top, so it scrolls me down. But you know what I found and I don't know if this is just me, so I'd love your take on it. What actually turns me off is when I see this sentence. This review was submitted as part of a promotional offer or as part of a paid incentivized offer. So I mean, I get it. Company wants to get their product out and get some reviews, so they probably, you know, they send the product to a bunch of people in in exchange for a review. But just the fact that it was kind of an incentivized review makes me feel like I'm not legitimately getting to the crux of like how that person really felt. It's like when a leader goes to their employee and says, do you like working here? What was I mean, was it employe going to say to their so what are you? What's your opinion about reviews, because I know there are platforms and softwarees that dealers are using...

...to try and generate an incentivized submission of Google reviews and dealer radar reviews and all these sorts of things. But do you think that, in this changing climate, that that you're talking about, that that's going to have as much pull all as what you just said, the manual approaching of a customer who's already buying and just asking them, Hey, what could we have done better? What are your thoughts? I mean, reviews are great and I think that most dealerships focus so much on the reviews for their variable site and not so much for their, you know, fixed ups, which I think it should be other way around, because in you know, fixed operations and service is what people are going to be going back to the dealerships more off in the future, more than ever, because we will still need, you know, dealer centers and, you know, nurs to service those vehicles, electric or not, we're not gonna know how to fix those, doesn't matter that they're run on battery right. So we're going to need, you know, somebody's help to, you know, even to teach us how to use it and and and all of that. So like focusing on that. That part of for reviews, because you really need somebody that you can trust and somebody that can be of help in a time of need, when you know something's broken. Right. But, like, as far as sales and and and moving into like I'm looking at this at like three steps. I had. If this metaverse works out, the way I see it, I think we not gonna see that much people going in and like test driving, because will there be a need for that? You know, like we're there be a need for a physical visit to a dealership prior to purchase, saying something meaning like you know what you want to buy, and if all dealers are the same, then you just going to decide where you're going to buy something how you're going to decide that. You're going to write. Couple of different approaches, like reviews is just one of them. But people all always pick convenience...

...over any you know, opinion. You know, like so, like you can read as many reviews as you want on Amazon and you can read the if you can read about the same product that you can buy ten times cheaper, unlike Ali Baba, right, and you go with Amazon because it's going to be on your doorstep next day and you're going to be able to return it to coals and you're not going to have any type of problem in between those steps where, like, if you buy it from Ali Baba, you're going to pay less, but you're going to wait fourteen days to get it right. Where you going to return it? And people want convenience. People will pay more money for convenience. So, to answer your question, reviews are important, but not the most important. Should we focus on them? Absolutely, if they are real and it's just the question of time where dealers are going to start paying people for reviews. In a way, they kind of are, because you know, some dealers do give cards and all of this kind of stuff. So right, you know, like I said, I don't think we need them as much for variable side of the business, but for fixed ups. Yes, because you know, most of the cars that we drive today are Twentyzero plus and that's a big investment and you want to take it somewhere where you know that they not going to break it. So love it. Moving on to I want to talk a little bit more about BEDC in particular. So we recently set up a discord server for the DPB gang. For those of you that are not familiar with discord think, well, it depends on what generation you're from, but if you're from my generation, think AOL messenger, if you're from a newer generation, think slack, but free. We set up this discord server and of course in this channel there's a there's a BEDC channel and I asked a question for you there and you were so good about leaving me on the hook and you and and...

...the question was in so many dealerships, and I could be wrong, but I think most dealerships have a sales department, HMM, and and more and more are trying to develop out BEDC departments. I believe that the best success happens when there's a single revenue department where BEDC and frontline sales people are part of the same team. And so I ask the question for you. How do we more integrate BEDC's and sales department so that they're not in Asilo, so that there isn't this gap, so that there isn't this come this weird I don't know what you arrivalry, or if you want to call it that, and you said we'll talk about that on the podcast. So I've been curious ever since I asked the question. What can we do to create a revenue department where BBC and sales are on the same team, not continue to be siloed and and, you know, working against each other? Well, you just set it beyond the same team. I mean it's very like, you know, I worked in couple different dealerships and I was I was I was fortunate enough where I was giving a rain of how I'm going to build my department and how who I'm going to hire, an I'm going to see them. And when I was given the option to have my people wherever I wanted them to, I ask that I can have them on a shore of floor because I I don't, you know, like them sitting in a launch room or using the part of the conference room or some basement closet and like setting. I mean like I know that for many dealerships, in House BDC is not an option, but for the ones that is, and I think it should be, because really like you can have one BBC manager, one BBC men, a director overlooking all the stores. But in House BEDC those...

...couple of reps that you need. First store, if the stores of a normal size, right, all people, maybe three people with the shifts and everything. There is enough room on a dealership floor for them, and the reason for that is, you know, they are able to communicate with, you know, their sales counterparts. They're able to see that interaction when the customer comes in and if they set the appointment for somebody that was not in the market or not approvable or something, they can see and feel the frustration coming from a salesperson that you know wasted their time. Right, I don't think it's ever waste of time if you do it correctly. However, you know quick right, but you know. And the same for sales people, because what do you see at the most dealerships when you go and you look at the sales people? Right, you go in and you have one person that's with the customer and how one person running around like a catadless chicken, and then you have other six sales people on their desk, on their phone doing this, okay, and then you have a BTC room and which what happens is like calls and calls and call. Right now, if you have them in the same room, the person on a cell phone sooner or later is gonna turn in. I'M gonna be like Damn Marie has been killing it all freaking day. She's been dialing and trying to get me opportunities. And what do I do? Tech Talk, at least if I'm making tick tocks and I'm making something, you know, to build my brand and everything. Fine, but just right, it's really you know, it's not helping me. So what happens after, you know, three, six, nine months, is like they get up from their desk and they come to the BBC person say hey, I seen you spoke to Mrs Smith and you told her such and such. Next time, if you get her on the phone, can just call me, because I have been trying to get in touch with with her for like months but I wasn't able to. And this is what...

...you say to, you know, get her to come in, because we did find the vehicle she wanted to and we're able to do this striping, which is none of the information that BBC would ever have if they're like upstairs or downstairs in a basement. Right, not, right, it's not huh. Sure, right. So that was like a solution number one. Solution number two, to integrate them even more is, you know, bring your sales people to that BBC desk and have them make phone calls or send emails together. You know, like go through the customer lissons. This is the people I'm going to call today, this is what I'm gonna say. And sometimes sales person is going to be like, wait a minute, I have like five people that you can call for me that maybe are better, you know, deal, because they're closer to being closed than the ones that you haven't heard from for ninety days. Or, you know, have your BBC agent go and make a video of, you know, a piece of inventories to send to a customer, but to do it the sales personally, meaning what is the process? If I need to pull up a pre owned vehicle and take it to a wash for customers to view? What is the process that the salesperson will take? So are they going to just like go and ask them as somebody else, to do it? Now they kind of have to do it themselves. They have to know how the key go and get the car wash at, Park it and park it back out and put the key back. And once the BTC agent do that, does that like once or twice a day because they don't have enough time. Right right they're making phone calls, but if they do it once or twice a day, they start appreciating what sales people do. And what happens is they really become the one team. You know, they're not doing each other's job, but they're everybody's doing their job, but they're working together on the same goal. And, yeah, wonderful things happens. Close rates goes up all of a sudden, sales people are more open to checking in people into the showroom. They're not like skipping. BBC does not have to waste time of having like a...

...separate list of, you know, appointment tracking, because the cerum is not telling them the real picture right, right, and it's just it's just, you know, they've work together, so it's in. It was. It was awesome when we did this, and I've did that for like fast, fast for five years and honestly, like we had less turnaround are close rates were amazing, everybody was making money, people are getting promoted and it's just worked out for everybody. It's so genius in in that it's simple to execute, in my opinion. Okay, maybe you're not going to redecorate the dealership today, but, like you said, you know what I'm picking up on here is it's just helping your team increase empathy for one another so that they can find these, excuse me, these in roads, so that they can be partners and not not. You know, water boy versus football player. It's like no, we're all actually on the same team. I would love to see any NFL or play a full game without getting access to water, HMM, and and or oxygen or whatever. And and so increasing the empathy for one another as an inroads to build that partnership, I think is actually a really simple thing that dealers could be implementing, or BEDC directors and sales teams, and it just starts with, in my opinion, a simple conversation from one of the parties. Hey, we want to we want to have your sales Reps. Hey, general sales manager, would love to have your sales reps come into the BEDC and do some phone calls with us, and we'd love some of our BEDC reps to come onto the sales floor and experience, you know firsthand, how you know sales is navigating. It's a customer coming in. It's that in becoming a salesperson, because lots of BAC agents will tell you like, well, I want to sell and you're like awesome,...

...and how about you go on shadows somebody for a week? And they were like why? And I'm like, well, we can sell cars from the phone, and they're like, well, I've been doing it my all life. Like everybody comes in and they buy on the same day. I was like, do you really think that just because you brought them into the showroom they bought? No, salesperson still had to do their job. So the idea said, okay, go and go and go and pull is the salesperson that's sold most of your appointments. They will know right of the bat and be like Aaron, awesome, go and sit with Aaron for net for next four hours, but I'm not going to be able to hit my phone calls for the day. Don't worry about it, I'm gonna sit at your desk, make your phone calls. Go and sit with our ar and for next four hours and for the next customer he sells, I want you to get all the paperwork that you need for the delivery and help him deliver that car. And then they come back and they're like wow, that was amazing. I was like, they still want to sell absolutely, or you will like, Nope, I'm staying in BBC. So our you know, their career trajectory is, and some people are fine with being like BBC forever or being, you know, like going from you know, BBC to be DM bed bed director, or just like going into Mark Marketing Vertical, where they first become like a social media specialist and then, you know, go from there and go to like the marketing director Rolls, and then you have your most standard people, BBC sales assistant, sales finance, sales manager, you know up. So like talk to your people because it's just so important to you know, have those conversations early on, and that's going to guarantee a success. Like ears dound the rope. I love this. I want to do a quick recap and then I'm going to turn it over to you so that we can learn how to connect with you offline. Take a good hard look in the mirror. That's where we started. Things are changing. Perhaps they've already changed in your late to the game. That's always a question you should be asking yourself, but look in the mirror, ask yourself those tough...

...questions. I would submit to to your point on the introspection. It's not going to happen overnight, but motion, movement is better than sitting here grumpy that things are changing and not doing anything about it. And then I love the practicality of what you're saying on how to integrate these teams and and in so doing, really the mission is that in so doing you're providing a better customer experience because you're causing your teams to listen more actively to one another, but also to the customer. You had mentioned a little piece there that I want to I want to underscore, which is having reps and salespeople experience first hand when a customer comes in frustrated or when a customer comes in with questions that they're confused about. Like just this increase in empathy for the customer is really why we want to do all this and I want to thank you for bringing up these points and joining me on the show. How can those listening get in touch with you? Well, I'm on Linkedin. I am very active there. I do have, you know, facebook, instagram and all those other pages, but those are more of, I know, a personal kind of connection. So find me on Linkedin if you want to talk. And I think automotive and beyond. So it's going to be Maria s with Gov's cust felled with the JA, so I'm pretty much the only Maria there with the Jay and automotive. You'll find me easy, since Marie Ja and I'm there and looking forward to, you know, connecting and talk to all of you. Maria, thanks so much for joining me on the dealer playbook podcast. Awesome. Thank you. I'm Michael Sirillo and you've been listening to the dealer playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, please click the subscribe button...

...wherever you're listening right now, leave a rating or review and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening.

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