4 Questions To Ask Before You Build Your Service BDC

By John Traver, CEO, Traver Connect

It was Jim Rohn who once said “Neglect starts out as an infection and then becomes a disease.”

Neglect may show itself in many forms in the service appointment process.

Too many missed incoming service calls is a form of neglect.

Long hold times while customer attempts to schedule service is neglect.

A poor appointment handling process once they get to an advisor is neglect, e.g. “Just bring it in!”

There are numerous ways “neglect” begins to “infect” your retention process.

The opposite is also true.  Retention starts with attention.  Most of your customer’s opinions will be formed during the appointment process and during the actual service visit.  Surprisingly, many dealers remain reactive in this space today with less than 21% of dealers today having centralized (internally or externally) their appointment scheduling process for their service drive.  Instead, most (over 80%) have a formalized approach to providing a multipoint inspection and menu selling system, complete with tools such as software and tablets.

It’s not that dealers don’t appear to care, as nearly all will look to the results of their CSI follow-up calls AFTER to see how satisfied their customers are.

The idea here is to move the focus to earlier in the retention process.  Instead of simply relying on “how did we do”, the suggestion here is to blueprint what you want to drive as an experience and then measure the impact on the post-visit follow-up.  In a couple of words, shop-loading is a game changer.  Shop-loading is more than just appointment setting. It’s job-centric.  It’s technician-centric. It’s productivity-centric as it aims to maximize the available hours to sell each and every day.  Three additional jobs scheduled each day is not a stretch in most dealerships.  The impact at an average Repair Order value of $250 (less than NADA current national average) is $750 per day, $15,750 per month or $189,000 annually.  And at 50% gross margin as an average, those are useful dollars in a very small example.

Catching the calls is the first key.  Then having a process to properly load the shop is the next opportunity.  So you need to centralize your incoming service calls. This means a Service BDC process of some sort.

When a dealership has a defined process for their service appointment calls and can execute that plan on a daily basis, they will have created a domino effect for positive change in the customer experience.

Your dealership may see two obvious approaches to creating a Service BDC:

  • Expand your current BDC team and build it internally
  • Or partner with a Service BDC firm of your choice and save the money and hassle while you remain focused on Sales BDC activities.

When you consider these options, here are the four most common questions to get answers for:

  1. Where?

As in, “Where will we put the Service BDC team?”

Limited Space is one of the initial challenges dealers must overcome.

The headcount for this initiative is much larger than sales due to the greater volume of inbound service calls than sales calls (over 7 times greater).

More heads translates into more space, computers, etc.

This means you will quickly see that the small filing cabinet room behind the Warranty Clerk office that can barely fit two people in it will not suffice for long as your service BDC.

Alternatively, outsourcing these calls will eliminate the need for you to find additional space, workstations, computers, etc.

  1. How?

It’s one thing to create the space but then you must build your Service BDC playbook.

The first assumption when hearing “BDC” is to assume that sales and service calls will be the same.  They are not.

Service appointment calls will require a different talk-track, different tools and rules for scheduling, a different demeanor of the BDC Rep (as compared to sales) and a completely different set of metrics for tracking the results.

Additionally, the staffing requirements for a Service BDC (days and times of call coverage) will be very challenging for the Service BDC as the volume of calls has a steady hourly flow as compared to the Sales BDC.

If you build a Service BDC internally, it will make sense to also use an external Service BDC partner to catch the overflow calls as it is almost impossible to catch them all and still justify the payroll costs.

  1. ROI?

Will we profit from this activity?

The service appointment call presents numerous opportunities for financial impact if properly scoped and executed.  Catching the calls translates into more repair orders each month.  Centralizing your calls means higher show rates – typically over 10% per month on average.  Taking a time/mileage approach to each call will drive new revenue into each appointment before the customer shows up.  It will also allow you to properly right-size the time expectation for each appointment.

Bottom-line on this one, get help from an expert in these areas as it will pay massive dividends when done properly.

  1. Types of Service BDC Outsourcing?

Think of this as “all” or “some”.

Outsourcing assistance can come in different shapes and sizes.  One option is to let the calls that hold longer than a minute to roll over to your Service BDC partner.  The calls get answered and the customer gets taken care of properly.

If you don’t want to build your own, and you desire to give time back to your advisors so they can sell and serve customers in real time, then consider outsourcing all appointment calls.

This will allow service advisors the time to fully assist the customers in the service drive while creating a consistent call process.  It also drives an agnostic approach to scheduling, meaning if the time is available in the schedule it can be “sold” to the next caller, regardless of bias on the drive.

As a result, the service department will see more balance to your scheduling during slower times of the day and week.

Over the years, I have found that sometimes it is either who you know or what you know that matters.  But sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Fortunately, I have run into this truth that is an always kind of thing, not a “sometimes” kind of thing…  More important than who or what is WHENIt’s when you know that matters MOST.  Now is the time to catch those calls and load your shop.  It’s the only way to get after retention.