The 5 Must Haves for Creating a Successful Automotive BDC – PART 5
TRANSCRIPT: The ‘must have’ number 4 in setting up a successful BDC that is going to be around today and in the future is this: BDC’s must have strict rules for what constitutes a VALID appointment. This is important. See, you may think you’re being nice or even that you are driving incremental business for your dealership when you allow your BDC to set soft appointments, but you’re not. In fact, you are costing them and you money. When you have soft appointment rules, like paying a BDC agent for an appointment that shows a day early, we can’t prepare for that and we should never pay an agent for it.
I’ve actually seen where a BDC agent was paid if the appointment arrived within 24 hours of the scheduled time. So, if I set an appointment for 9:15 Friday morning and that prospect bops on in at 8:00 P.M. Thursday night, and I’m the BDC agent, I get paid for that? I should never be paid for that because that’s not a true appointment. If someone arrives that early for their appointment we can’t prepare for it. We should never pay for it. I’ve actually seen this more often than the alternative, which is strict appointment times.
I also see this a lot: dealers give BDC’s credit for a sold unit because they had “meaningful contact” with the prospect within the last 72 hours. This allows them to set soft appointments. In fact, it encourages them to not even ask for an appointment. It encourages them to say things like, “When would you like to come in?” and the prospect invariably says. “Well, I can be in there Saturday. What time do you open?” The BDC agent says, “Well, we open at 9:00A.M. What time can I put you down for?” The prospect says, “I’ll be in around 10:00”, so the BDC agent, happily puts ‘10:15 Saturday’ as an appointment in the CRM, when, in fact, that’s not an appointment. When, in fact, that prospect’s not going to show up, but they don’t care because they are covered for 72 hours after having that “meaningful contact”, or they are covered for 24 hours either side.
See, you are actually hurting your sales and the paychecks of the BDC agents when you allow them to set soft appointments. You need to have strict rules in place for what constitutes a valid appointment. My choice is this: only count an appointment as valid if the prospect arrives within 45 minutes of the scheduled appointment time. Either 45 minutes before or after the scheduled appointment time gives your team an hour and a half, which, in some cases, I think is too much. In fact, dealers who follow the perfect appointment get 90% of their shows within 10 minutes either side of their scheduled appointment.
But, look, let’s call it a compromise; I’ll call it a valid appointment if the prospect arrives within 45 minutes of the scheduled appointment, either side. Now, unless you put strict rules in place for what counts as a valid appointment, and I mean tightening it up to 45 minutes or less, your BDC will never have the discipline to pin a prospect down on a specific time. Why should they pin them down, right? That takes work; it’s sometimes uncomfortable, and they’re going to get paid either way, right? See, that’s why they won’t be firm on the phone with their prospect. Imagine this: let’s say your BDC tries to set the appointment the right way; they say, “You know I’ve got a 5:45 and a 6:15 open. Which time works best for you?” The prospect says, “I don’t know what time I can come in. How late are you open?” If I’m paid on soft appointments, I’m going to say, “We’re open until 9:00”. The prospect will say, “Great, I’ll be in before 9:00”. The BDC agent will say, “Great”, and put in a 7:00 appointment. They are going to get paid no matter what.
The fact of the matter is – that prospect is not going to show. It takes work. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to pin them down and when the prospect says, “I don’t know what time I can come in. How late are you open?” It’s important for the BDC agent to respond with something like, “Well, we’re open until 9:00 but my last test drive on that Camry is for 7:15. Now, I’ve got a 6:45 and a 7:15. Which one works better for you?” It’s sometimes hard to pin the prospect down, but, you know what, that’s the only way they are going to show up for their appointment.
When you allow them to set soft appointments, you’ve got to understand, they are not making more money, they are making less money because the prospect isn’t going to show up. When your team allows the customer to say something like, “I’ll be in before 9:00”, there is almost no chance that this appointment is going to show. It’s NOT an appointment. A true appointment requires both a specific day and a specific time. Without a specific time there is no MENTAL commitment by the prospect to show up so they generally will not.
Now, once you force your team to start setting stronger appointments, by paying them only for appointments that arrive within 45 minutes of their scheduled time, their show rates are going to multiply, as will your sold units.