It's the internet manager's fault...

Picture this scenario...

A high level Internet/BDC Manager gets hired into a dealership that is a goldmine of an opportunity.  This person comes very highly recommended and has a proven track record of building success for every dealership that they have worked with.  It is amazing how during the interview process this person's suggestions and views are not really cared for.  Here is a dealership that gets over 2000 leads per month with an underperforming BDC, very poor customer satisfaction, and untrained sales consultants.

This new BDC Manager starts working at the dealership that builds him a new BDC office with space to fit 10 BDC reps.  The dealership is operating with only 4 BDC reps that cherry pick the leads and do not follow up a set process.  This is because the CRM is not properly set up.  These 4 BDC reps are working 55 hours per week and milking the dealership for overtime with very little focus on performance since the commission plan is poor.  The sales staff is micro-managed and is required to spend an hour a day in the BDC to make random phone calls to random internet leads (only to aggravate prospects) without reading notes on the customers.

What does the BDC Manager accomplish in a 2 month period?

Start with the fact that this person works 50 hours per week.  Also take into consideration that the General Manager is really just a General Sales Manager who takes on way more responsibility than they should.  They handle websites, third party lead providers, and marketing without ever involving the BDC Manager (who has the best automotive digital marketing background in the whole dealership).  Take into consideration that while all of the dealerships that are smart are pulling out of using TrueCar, this dealership embraces it.  They get 1200 leads per month off of ZAG and only sell 30.  They are happy with that and do not care for the fact that 95% of the leads are garbage that clutter the CRM.  When the BDC Manager speaks up, the response that he gets is "look we delivered 30 cars at $2,700 per unit so it is a great resource".

Does this sound like a problematic situation?  So the BDC Manager puts up with it and works with what he has knowing that the dealership only talks about growing but does not want to make changes that will allow for the growth.

So in two months, here is what happens:

1. Pay Plan change for BDC reps.  No more overtime.  No more hourly pay.  They strictly get paid a weekly salary to work 40 hours per week.  The commission plan becomes lucrative.  There is a bonus put in place if the team hits their goals.  This causes issues and struggles because everyone started to complain.  However, everyone has the option of accepting the change and the ability to make more money or pack their things and leave.  Every single BDC rep stays loyal and decides to follow this new plan.

2. As we know it is impossible to manager 2000 leads for 4 people.  The BDC Managers hires 4 more people rounding out the staff to an even 8 person BDC.  Now we are in business.  This stops the cherry picking and starts to push the BDC reps to making more phone calls and appointments.

3. Training.  The BDC reps were all trained to follow the system that BDC Manager has put into place.  It was easier for the new people to learn and develop these new methods while the veterans had to incorporate this into what they were already doing.

4. CRM Process setup.  The CRM was a total disaster.  There was no work plan.  In fact the only leads that were followed up with were the ones that responded back.  Email templates were not clear and everyone just sent out a random email.  This would change as the BDC Manager installed processes and email templates that include 120 follow for internet leads consisting of emails and phone calls.  The emails had fresh, unique, content that triggered customers to respond.  This automatically increased contact rates and elevated to more phone calls.  There were processes installed for following up with unsold showroom customers as well as bringing in service customers to give them an opportunity to trade their vehicle into a new one.

The Results:

Before all of these changes were made, the average Saturday appointment log would have 60-70 appointments booked.  After these changes, an average Saturday appointment log with have between 85 and 104 appointments.  During the week the appointments went from 15 per day to as many as 35 per day.  Towards the end of the 2nd month the total amount of appointments for the store were 610 set and 317 shows.

The problem:

With 610 set and 317 shows, the dealership as a whole was sitting on only 115 delivered vehicles.  Keep in mind that lead count dropped as Zag/TrueCar made changes.  The leads went from 1200 to 600.  The BDC Manager was happy to have less garbage clutter the CRM.  The customers are being brought in yet the sales department is dropping the ball.  The dealership is starting to have more customer satisfaction problems than ever.  More and more customers email and call to complain.  They are being mishandled.  One of the sales consultants who consistently sell over 30 cars per month is politically tied in with the GM and he gets way with everything.  He skates other sales people and he is the main source of the customer satisfaction problems.

What else?  It is two months into this department being setup.  The BDC Manager still does not have as desk, computer, and phone.  There were times when the BDC Manager had to work out of their very own laptop.  The first month and half there were not enough phone lines.

So the finger pointing starts and the blame goes to the internet manager for the dealership not selling cars.  The blame also states that they are not focused on the job as much as they should be and the results are not there.  The dealership does not know what to do next but thinks that having this BDC Manager is a huge expense so they let him go.

Fast forward one week later after the BDC Manager is gone.  This dealership has no clue to what to do next so they place their 30 car per month sales all-star (who barely speaks English and is the reason for most of the customer satisfaction problems) to be the acting BDC Manager.  This person has no BDC training and has no idea how to manage the CRM and anything about process.  Well that first Saturday, the appointment log drops down to 50 appointments instead of 90.

What is the point?

The point is that dealers need to stop looking for an instant miracle.  If you want to grow and you get someone great give them the chance and the support that they need to make it work.  Stop fighting it.  Control the dealership so that no one else gets in the way politically to make it difficult for the store to grow.  Start focusing on managing the sales staff and fixing all of the customer service issues that come with the problem.  At 317 customers showing up, the dealership should have sold 140-150 units just off the appointments and even more from the walk in traffic.  Yet the blame is still put on the internet manager.  This store does not look back and think "Why did we have to go through 5 and now 6 BDC Managers in 2 years?"  They just dream big and finger point.  Finger pointing and playing the blame game only takes you backwards.  So when you decide that you want to grow and make positive changes.  Stick with them and do not cause action that will make you go backwards.

By the way this is based on a true story and this actually happened within the last two months.  The statistics are 100% accurate.

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Comment by Gregory C. Pavlov on July 25, 2012 at 5:14pm

As stated there is no such thing as "Instant Change" !  These things take time to materialize and the processes need to be nututred during the first formative weeks.  When changes of this magnitude are made the GM needs to allow, at a minimum, 6 months to see concrete results. 


The same goes when the dealership expands Parts & Service Department hours.  Waiting only two to three months doesn't allow the customer base to even become aware that the Parts & Service Department is open expanded hours, let alone to take advantage of it.  You need to increase the Advertising of the change and then allow for the change to take effect!


Remember in this business there is no such thing as "Instant Change" !

Comment by Stan Sher on July 25, 2012 at 4:32pm

They had their own opinions which made no sense during the interview.  That was it.

Update:  So this dealership yet again hired someone in May and fired that manager literally 2 months later.  Same exact situation and details as this story.  What is wrong with this dealer?  Look at this follow up video to this story:

Comment by Jason Mickelson on July 25, 2012 at 4:25pm

I agree, there is a lot to learn for whoever you place in this type of role. Especially at a large dealership like this one must be.  The problems were not created overnight and they probably won't be solved in a month or two. 

Did I read it right that the management team did not like the BDC manager's ideas during the interview?  This might have been a good red flag for the person who was considering this position.   

Thanks for sharing Stan!

Comment by Stan Sher on March 27, 2012 at 12:31am

Thank you.  I thought you would understand.

Comment by Sandra Dellolio on March 24, 2012 at 4:46pm

Great Post Stan! I have seen this happen.  GMs and Owners must realize this is one of the biggest growing parts of the business today.  BDC Departments have grown so fast in the past few years and must constantly change in a business that changes minute by minute.  True Cars, Autotrader, , SEO, SEM, and online reputation just to name some duties of a BDC Manager, its not just making an appointment and getting the customer in the door anymore.

Comment by Tim Schewe on March 9, 2012 at 11:07am

Stan, Thanks for your response. Not quite what I was hoping for. You kindly provided a list of duties which is helpful. However, I am most interested in the requisite skill-sets of a BDC/Internet manager. Let's say I'm going to hire a manager. When I advertise the position what skills does this person have to posess in order to be considered "qualified" for the position? What experience? An example: Your fourth point suggests that this person "Be involved in all decision making with vendors and marketing ideas." Let's take the last half of this......decision making regarding marketing ideas. What degree of marketing experience is required? If this person is going to evaluate marketing ideas it seems that a minimal skill-set might be a college degree with a minor in marketing. Better would be a marketing degree. Best might be a degree in marketing and several years experience doing.............. what? Where?

Thanks in advance,


Comment by Stan Sher on March 8, 2012 at 9:26pm

Tim, there are so many definitions.  It all depends on the setup of the store and what they are looking to expect out of someone in that role.  This can be a role for one person and in some cases it is two different roles.

Comment by Tim Schewe on March 7, 2012 at 10:54am

Could someone (ideally several someones) please define the skill-set required of a BDC/Internet manager?

Comment by Stan Sher on March 6, 2012 at 11:56am

Thank you.  Make a plan and stick to it for at least 6 months and build.  The people who give up fast are the ones that start move backwards.

Comment by Marsh Buice on March 6, 2012 at 11:36am

Good post, Stan, no more lip service or wishes-make a plan, marry it, and offer the support in which to grow it. Too often, we give up on something if it doesnt offer instant dividends. Keep up the good work brother.

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