Best PracticesDealership Operations & Processes

How Ricky Bobby Will Fix Your Service Retention Problem

You may be wondering what the movie Talladega Nights has to do with running an excellent Service BDC. The connection goes a little deeper than NASCAR.   

I am about to make some of your heads spin. I am not a HUGE fan of NASCAR. I feel like that is slightly sacrilegious in this industry, but it is the truth.

I get that it’s exciting for the first lap or so, but then…eh. They are driving in circles.

Now, ask me about Talladega Nights, and I could talk all day about the symbolism of the cars and colors, the metaphors ensconced in Ricky and Cal’s odd, but endearing friendship, and the religious aspects of their obsession with the newborn baby Jesus.

The one lesson that always hit home was “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” You either come out on top, or you are on the bottom. You either win, or you lose.

In life, I am not sure I completely agree with this, but in regards to our customers in the service lane, I would have to support it 100%. The customer experience is key, and if you are not the most invested in this, your customer will find the one who is.

Ricky: “You can’t have two number ones”

Cal: “Yeah…cause that would be 11.”

If you ain’t first, you’re last.

Business Development Centers (BDCs) are the front line for customer service. And now there is a real need for dealerships to have Service BDCs or BDC Cultures. Owners, manufacturer’s and managers recognized that there must be staff dedicated to interacting with, communicating with,  and reaching out to customers. Not everyone wants to do this, but it is a necessary and important role in the dealership. Service BDCs, if implemented well, can be a powerful retention tool and will drive CSI.

5 Key Elements for Implementing a Productive and Functional Service BDC/ BDC Culture:


Begin with the End in Mind

We called this backmapping in the training industry. In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby’s dad called it driving with a cougar. He knew the end goal (getting Ricky over his fear) and took action towards that goal. You decide where you want to end up, then plan backwards to determine the actions that must be taken to be successful. You must know what your end goal is with your BDC before you begin implementation.

What is the expected outcome of your BDC? Brainstorm with your team, read about service BDCs, make connections with people who are successfully running BDCs — do the necessary research to create an informed outline for your startup.

If and when you are ready to really move forward, invest in some training. If you want to be successful, you need to start off right!

Identify Your Needs

Not every dealership needs a service BDC, but every dealership does need a BDC culture. Regardless of which you have, there needs to be specific people assigned to roles. This ensures that there will be some type of accountability in the process

There must be a point person (BDC Manager, Service Manager, Etc…) who will make sure the system is running smoothly.

Next you need employees who can be dedicated to answering phones, e-mailing customers, interfacing with customers — essentially the face of the Service Department. If you know it is not possible to have one person dedicated to that job, make sure the person chosen will be able to reach customers and return calls/emails within 10 minutes of receiving the call/email.


Once you have a dedicated manager, or a person in charge of managing your BDC, you need to make sure you know what you expect and how you expect it to happen.

If you just say “Pick up the phone and start dialing!” you may not get the results you are hoping for.

Before you start, make sure that you have a process in place. Who will be calling? Emailing? When? What is the most optimal time of day to reach customers?

A simple process map will provide great direction to the manager and the team!


The need for customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. And depending on your manufacturer, retention can lead to additional funding. Knowing how to communicate effectively, consistently, and properly with customers is a must, and if done well will keep customers coming back for more.

Make sure to train anyone calling or receiving calls from customers the right words to say. Use scripts that reflect your company culture and that highlight customer service. Whether you love or hate Chick-Fil-A, you cannot deny that they have impeccable customer service. That comes from training and practicing the correct word tracks.

How will you evaluate progress? If you begin with the end in mind, you will also need to know the basic metrics you will use to evaluate the growth/ success of the BDC (both individually and as a whole). Metrics are personalized based on the requirements of the dealership — there are very few situations where one size fits all. Plan with leadership, ask questions of people who have already been successful, and move forward.


Know what you expect from your team and make it transparent. When they are emailing, what is their goal for sent emails? When they are calling, how many calls an hour?

Is it enough to just measure calls made, or do you want to look at connections, appointments set, and appointments shown?

Know what you are measuring, and make sure to let everyone know. That knowledge will lead to success.

Takeaways: A Service BDC cannot just be thrown together and expect success. As with many things in life, vision + plan = successful implementation. Know where you want your Service BDC to go, know the basic metrics you will use to evaluate the success, and start setting more appointments.

Let’s Talk About It:
What is your dealership doing to create an amazing customer experience in the Service department?
Do you currently have a devoted service BDC?  Do you think you need one?
How often do you train your Service BDC?