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 Do You Have Any Idea How to Make Money in Your Internet Department or BDC?

It is a simple enough question to ask. I am disappointed to have to say that most dealers do not know how to make money in their Internet department or BDC. Some dealers know how to sell cars from their departments, but they don’t know how to build value, which means they cannot make gross on these deals — so they give units away. Even if they are making a little bit of profit, it’s not because of some thought-out strategy, business model or action plan.

If you are reading this article, it means that the world didn’t end. The Mayan calendar had no effect on us. It also means that it is January 2013. 2013. I was selling 110 units online and making gross profits in 1999/2000. If you aren’t crushing it online, it is not because…

  • … of the election. It’s over.
  • … of the economy. People are buying vehicles, and we are having record months.
  • … you can’t make money with Internet prospects. Everyone is an “Internet Prospect” to some degree. More than 90 percent of people go online before they ever step foot in your dealership. If you can make gross on the showroom floor, you have no excuse not to hold gross with Internet or BDC customers.
  • … you don’t have the right manager. If you actually don’t have the right managers, find them.
  • … you don’t have the budget. Make changes with your antiquated marketing and advertising strategy.
  • … you don’t know how or where to even start. Join an Internet Sales 20 Group or hire a consultant — do not settle for mediocrity.

I have a friend who is the dealer principal of a domestic dealership in Chicago. He sells more than 200 units online. He has zero conventional advertising, and his average cost per sale is less than $100 (NADA says average cost per sale is $600 per car). That is how it should be. You should be able to sell more cars, more profitably, more often with Internet sales. I have built hundreds of Internet sales departments all over the country that are ridiculously profitable. It doesn't matter what franchise you have or what region of the country you are in. As long as you set up the business model for your Internet department or BDC the right way, you will make money and lots of it.

Here are some things that you need to make sure you are doing and tracking; if you’re not, you’re probably not making money in your department, or as much money as you should be.

  1. Make sure your average cost per sale with your Internet customers is $200 or less per car. If it’s higher, then that means you have a problem. You either have a problem with your digital marketing or advertising initiatives, or you have a problem with your people not converting the right way. It might be a training or process issue.


  1. Make sure that your gestation period is around 20 days, meaning that the average Internet prospect is a 45 to 90 opportunity, but most dealerships’ “average selling ratio” is only seven to 11 days.

Here is how you can check your status. Take your last month’s Internet sales (let’s say you sold 50 “Internet Deals”), then add three additional variables to track: the date the lead came in on, the date the lead closed and the “window period.” Now, go and track that for all 50 Internet sales from last month. Now, I want you to add all 50 Internet sales’ window period, then divide that number by 50. This will give you the “average window period” or “the gestation period.” You want to make sure you are not just selling to the “low hanging fruit.” Think about it: If the average buying cycle for Internet prospects is 45 to 90 days, then why is your average selling ratio to Internet prospects only seven to 11 days? Exactly!


  1. Make sure that you are attempting to contact prospects during prime time, which is between 6 and 8 p.m. I am shocked that dealers all over the country close at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. This is like making it to the Super Bowl and saying “no, thank you,” or making it to the Super Bowl halftime and saying “Thanks, we have had enough; we’ll try to see you next year!” This just doesn't make any sense. Think about it: What do you expect if you keep calling someone’s home number during work hours and they are at work? Exactly — you will not reach them. Now, does it matter if you are calling them for 30 straight days, numerous times a day? No, it won’t. Please remember, its not just about working hard. It is also about working smart.

I can seriously go on and on about this subject, but at the end of the day, it’s about making money. If you are not making money in your Internet department or BDC, or if you have no clue if you are really making money or not, e-mail me or call me ASAP.

Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 888-3-SYNERGY, or by e-mail at 

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