Who should be running my internet department or bdc?
This is another question I am asked from dealers all over the country — and the dealers who don’t ask me this question really should. While I acknowledge the fact that there are many different types of dealerships, please have an open mind to what you are about to read.
First, I am sure that we are all aware that 88 to 98 percent of people go online before they ever step foot into the dealership. We also know that social media is the No. 1 form of communication in this country. The problem that I continue to see, however, is that many dealerships in this country still don’t view the Internet or business development department as a “real” department.
Too many times I walk into dealerships and you can immediately feel the tension in the air; it’s an “us vs. them” mentality. There is dissention on the floor, frustration, anger and even sabotage — not to mention disrespect. I often hear the same thing from Internet coordinators, managers, directors and BDC reps; they are neither appreciated nor respected, and are treated as the “stepchild” in the dealership, and that goes from the dealer to the GM to the GSM, all the way down the food chain.
And, as we all know, perception is reality. If the dealer feels this way — that the manager of the department isn’t a “real” manager — they aren’t going to have an idea of who the right person is for the job, or what type of a pay plan to put together. They might not give this manager authority in the dealership. They might only make this person a “manager” in title only.
They also might put in place the wrong people. They have people who aren’t working out on showroom floor, so they give them a shot in the Internet department. Or, they might hire someone computer savvy because they feel that qualifies them to run an Internet sales department. Dealers also hire young people because they feel they can relate to the prospects better. These are all wrong strategies. The Internet Department or BDC in the dealership should be a major department, on a level with the new, used, finance and fixed ops departments. We are focusing on Internet “sales” department, but it goes deeper than that (Internet sales, service, parts, body shop, finance,
aftermarket, leasing, fleet, special finance, etc.).
Here are some facts: The average dealership delivers approximately 100 units new and used a month. An average dealership has approximately 10 salespeople, a finance manager, a sales manager and either a GSM or GM. All of that goes into selling about 100 units. Now, I have dealers who tell me that they want to sell 50, 100 or 150+ units per month from their Internet department, but they don’t want to treat the department as more important than the other departments or profit centers in the dealership. Furthermore, they want to put in place the wrong type of person to manage and run the department. They don’t want to pay the Internet sales director like the other “real” managers in the dealership. They also do not allow them to have any “real” manager authority, but they will put all of the responsibility on that person’s shoulders.
So, what exactly is the right profile? Who should run an Internet sales department? First and foremost, you want to make sure you have a person who is an automotive sales manager, or at the very least have someone who is a great sales consultant and closer with the potential to be a great sales manager with the proper training and support. Let’s go deeper: If you are trying to run a department that delivers more than 100 units a month online, you should have at the bare minimum a great sales manager, or even a GSM or GSM-caliber person running that department. Answer this question: Would you ever have a non-salesperson run your entire dealership, or even be a GSM at your dealership?
You want a sales manager in that department who can drive the momentum in that room. You want someone who can put a deal together and can even desk a deal if necessary. You also want to have someone who will be respected by the other managers and the showroom sales force — not just by the Internet department.
So, how in the world do you expect to deliver that number of units without having the caliber of individual I just outlined? The argument is that dealers need someone to manage the Website, take pictures, create videos, get testimonials, handle I.T., take care of the CRM/ILM, handle online reputation management, SEO, VSEO and all other forms of digital marketing. I agree 100 percent — all of that needs to be taken care of. However, I do not think that the Internet sales director or Internet sales manager should be that person, especially when you are trying to deliver 100+ units per month from the department. You should either hire a person to do those jobs, or outsource those duties. Anything else is not going to be as productive in the long run. They are, at a minimum, two different jobs.
Don’t freak out if you are a current Internet sales or BDC director and don’t fit the profile I just mentioned. And don’t freak out if you are a GM or dealer who just hired someone who doesn’t fit the profile outlined in this article. I would say, if they were the “right” individual who you believe in, get that person training on product knowledge, I would have them get certified as a sales consultant from your OEMs and I would get them certified as a sales manager by your OEMs. If you have to invest time, money and training to get the department head at the level of any other department head in your organization, it is what it is. If you don’t, you will suffer.
The bottom line is that having the right Internet sales / BDC director is crucial to the success of the dealer’s online initiative. If you have any questions about this article or if you would like some examples or ideas of ways to ensure your department’s success, feel free to e-mail me or call me.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry.