Starting this month, GM is requiring all dealers in its Standards for Excellence incentive program to have some of their employees go through business development center training.
Most of GM’s 4,300 dealerships don’t operate the centers and “don’t understand the need” to keep sales leads from falling through the cracks.
Business development centers have their detractors, who say that the centers breed laziness among sales staffers. While center employees work on Internet and phone leads, these critics say, salespeople on the floor simply wait for customers to walk through the door.
Henry Brown of Brown Buick-GMC in Gilbert, Arizona believes he has the antidote to that problem: He merged his traditional floor staff with his business development center.
Now, each of his 38 salespeople is required to spend one hour per shift in the call center, working off a list of 30 prospects and customers gleaned from Brown’s customer relationship management system and a list of leads from GM.
Brown credits much of his success to his business development center, an office in the dealership in charge of following up on phone and Internet leads, as well as contacting customers for everything from birthday wishes to lease-expiration reminders.
Brown Buick-GMC’s most closely tracked metric is the number of scheduled customer appointments for test drives and trade-in estimates. Brown gets a text message each night that shows how many appointments are set for the next day and for the coming weekend.
New-vehicle sales in 2013 jumped to around 1,800 from about 600 when Brown took over.
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