By Joe Tareen – Technical Analyst at Traver Connect
Lack of Service Management and Advisor Buy-in.
Often top level leadership will make a decision to hire an outside Service BDC or create an internal one, because the assumption here is that advisors will be better off building a one on one relationship with customers and should not be bothered by a constant barrage of incoming call rings. This is absolutely the correct assumption and the right mindset. However, often this high level mindset is not properly communicated downstream to the service management or the entire service drive team. The result is a lack of a buy-in from the most critical group of people who are affected by this decision. When phones stop ringing for new business, advisors often feel like they are at the mercy of a third party for their earnings. A few examples here include, the ability to control their work load is taken away, some advisors will also not like the fact that they cannot cherry pick their customers (thankfully those advisors are usually in a small minority). Additionally some service managers will dislike the idea of giving a third party control of their shop loading operations, especially the ones who have clear and strong ideas on how to run their shops tightly. These are legitimate concerns which can turn into inter-departmental conflicts which then can have real effects on your bottom line. However, there is good news. These potential conflicts can be nipped in the bud before they fully blossom into full-blown crisis. Here is how: Involve your entire Service Management team and at least one lead advisor early on during the Service BDC discovery process. You will not only get their buy-in, but will also identify early detractors and potential problem creators. Bottom line is engaging your Service drive team early on will help to create a sense of ownership and allow them to have some skin-in-the-game.
Not the right Scheduler
On many occasions scheduling an appointment requires more complexity than a set of features available inside a typical web-based scheduler. It is important to truly assess your needs in relations to your customer base type and your profit goals. Selecting schedulers which do not fulfill your operational objectives, whether clearly spelled out or otherwise expressed via your day to day actions, may create a substantial gap between your revenue objectives and actual results. Also asking your service BDC agents to go beyond what can be achieved inside your chosen scheduler, may, from time to time, cause mistakes to happen which ultimately results in friction between your service drive and your service BDC. This is not good and counter-productive. Get the scheduler which works well for both units with a good understanding of its capabilities and restrains. This will create alignment of business goals.
Not the right Business Development Manager (BDM).
One of the reasons why a service BDC may fail is a person who is not qualified is given responsibilities to launch and run it. One of the first requirements of managing a Service BDC should be good people skills which are inevitably tied to good communication skills. Service BDC operations are a contact sport all the way around. A BDM needs to be the conduit between your Service BDC agents and Service Drive team. Additionally, they must have the ability to logically and technically explain the “whys” behind your scheduling, loaners, rentals, recalls and pricing policies. The BDM needs to be a sufficient trainer, good coach, and needs to have the ability to hold his or her team accountable for results, himself/herself included. In addition, the BDM must be confident in every aspect of their job, which means they should spend sufficient time on the drive with advisors, and should be trained to personally take any inbound or outbound call duties as the business requires. As a side note, your Service BDC team will also benefit from the practice of new agents when hired, spending at least day or two with the Service Drive team to really taste the ‘dog food’.
Not clearly defining Service BDC Role & Expectations
Another reason why your Service BDC may fail is because different people within the same organization may hold different opinions as to why the Service BDC exists in the first place. For instance the Service Manager may assume the Service BDC works for his team’s convenience. Whereas, the General Manager may think the Service BDC exists because we were not capturing enough opportunities and putting too many restrictions on same-day appointments. One can see how a Service Manager who is more concerned with getting the ‘work-out’ would hold a completely different opinion on the true purpose of a Service BDC than the General Manager who is interested in getting more ‘work-in’. This does not happen at every dealership, however it is a common occurrence in the industry. Both are valid business positions coming from two different perspectives. This is why it is absolutely imperative that expectations are laid early on as to the reason why a dealership chooses to invest in a Service BDC and what exactly is the goal of that Service BDC. This must be agreed upon by all parties and documented for future use/education/re-education. Clearly defining the common objectives of the Service BDC is paramount, especially noting what it can do as well as what it cannot do. One thing worth mentioning here is that a Service BDC cannot fulfill the role of a dispatcher. An agent should not be encumbered with too many rules to account for just to book a simple service appointment. Get the customer in, train your service advisor to manage the expectations of the visit, and keep the machine moving. Leave yourself with enough room to maneuver and fulfill your OEM CSI obligations. It can be balanced, have confidence in your team to collaborate and deliver.
Lack of in-depth reporting and ROI.
The final piece to this puzzle sounds almost cliché based on how many times we all have heard it, but it’s worth repeating: “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”. If we were to mention one simple item to help dealers understand why reporting is so critical in identifying a true return on investment, it would be this: Take the total number of calls answered by your Service BDC in a month and divide by the total monthly cost of your Service BDC. If the number is higher than what a third-party is willing to take your calls for, then you better question the existence of your Service BDC and look for other options. Again its opportunity cost. Would you get more bang for your buck somewhere else? However, at the same time do not make a decision solely based on cost factors. Consider other intangibles which may bring unseen benefits to your Fixed Operations as well as your customers. Get granular with your Service BDC operational data. For instance: How well are your agents educating your customers on OEM recommended services? How efficient are your agents in taking calls per hour? What is the call count gap between the most productive agent and the least productive agent? What is your most productive agent doing different then your least productive agent? What can your organization learn from this gap? There are nuggets there, if you choose to look. So, be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions, because if you don’t you will fail. We don’t want you to fail. We want you to not only succeed by thrive.