Best PracticesJun 3rd, 2022

Seeking and Creating Environments that Honor People: How Sarah Vantine is changing the BDC


In preparation for our meeting with Sarah Vantine of Quantum5, we spent time researching the company and reviewing her profile. Anything but ordinary comes to mind. Clear messaging about who she is, what she does, and most importantly, why she does it, sets the tone for a very people-centric conversation; the synergy between Sarah and Quantum5 exceeded our expectations.

As Sarah sits in front of an elegant bookshelf, decorated in accolades, she boldly smiles and tells me that she assembled it herself when she was eight months pregnant. What would follow would be two people interacting, truly engaged. By the end of our conversation, I would understand the power of forward-thinking approaches to the BDC, vision boards, and how a dolphin toy on the desk of an employee was the game changer that made it all connect.

Balance, Success, Courage and Seeking

The word balance, to me, has always kind of been misleading because it implies that you always hold everything in equal measure. The reality of it is that at different points in time, you need to let go of one thing in order to focus on another. You can't physically hold on to all of your work and personal responsibilities equally and at the same time. What allows you to achieve your goals, personal and professional, is having the courage to seek out opportunities in which you can build a support network. There are companies out there where the mission statement is cookie-cutter and may not actually be reflective of the core culture, something you will notice when you consider things like retention of employees.

I have sought opportunities that have allowed me to have a level of support and understanding, which has really been the secret to my success.

“This was the best thing to happen to me so far in my career.”

I am so thankful to be a part of the team that I am with now.

Finding Your True North

“It's not personal, it's just business.”

Ken Herfurth sums it up really well, "it's always personal." In every business, there are always people. There is a person at every single interaction. It is never just business, there are always elements of personal experience woven into the very core of business.

When Dave O’Brien and Ken Herfurth, the Founders of Quantum5, approached me, I had, up till this point, really made an effort to create a future within the BDC departments. We really focused on the individuals within the BDC itself. The term BDC is such a loose term for a variety of departments. You may find a dealership that says that they have a BDC department and in reality, they have two people answering calls and transferring them to somebody else; they have no authority, there is no empowerment and their job is quite limited. This leads to people within the dealership viewing them as an expense and someone who will never have the opportunity to move up in the organization.

And so, one of the challenges that I always encountered throughout my career was challenging the perception that existed in terms of the BDC and what the BDC was capable of. I focused on putting the human aspect first and by focusing on how I developed my people allowed for the development of better customer relationship and management skills.

When Quantum5 came along and I asked them about their reason for building the company, some of the pain points that they highlighted were things I had experienced in my own career and their values really impacted me because my heart was fully aligned. I had the opportunity to do something I really believed in on a larger scale, impacting hundreds of dealers, based on values that really represented my true north. Oftentimes in automotive, training is an event and it is done in a vacuum. And so what often happens is you go to a training seminar or a trainer comes in and you're pulled off the sales floor, you're pulled off the phones, and you're stuck in a room with this person. And then at the end of the training session, you go back to reality. Whatever was covered in that session slowly fades away. So, having the opportunity to take what I was doing in the BDC, like daily check-ins with all of my staff, is also really important to me. Although incredibly time-consuming and at times quite difficult when you're talking COVID and some of the restrictions that happened with face-to-face interactions, we still made an effort to have those one-on-one conversations. We used those sessions to understand what the challenges were and what we needed to adapt and adjust.

How could we better serve our clients and build on that culture of creating and nurturing mutual trust?

One on one human development directly impacts culture, skills development, and creates a better learning environment.

What can we expect at CXAUTO2022?

There are three strategies that we are going to unpack in the work session. We are going to talk about enabling multi-channel communication strategies within the BDC and what that really means at the end of the day. There is a lot of technology out there, and there are a lot of conversations around removing the human element by introducing chatbots or a predetermined response menu where the customer selects buttons and that becomes the full engagement experience. The reality is that people want the best of both, a combination of human interaction and technological implements. The customer does not want technology in a vacuum; they want a personal touch and they want to feel like they matter as an individual to the business.

One of the biggest opportunities is including the BDC in developing communication skills to deal with a variety of clients. For the client, it feels familiar when a business really takes time to listen to them and facilitate human communication, allowing for their receptiveness to be elevated. The conversation becomes something of value for the client as well as the business. It is important that the BDC is equipped with the skills necessary to understand strategies that are going to lead to success.

The second component of our work session will be focused on step-by-step instructions for a dealership to adjust their processes to best suit their customers' needs. An example that I can share comes from one of our case studies. Noises in vehicles are often one of the hardest things for a technician to diagnose. If you don’t have a good strategy to help the customer communicate the issue, it becomes very difficult for the technician to replicate the problem and without the information, they are unable to diagnose it. This creates frustration as the customer ends up having to return multiple times, a clear indication of a pain point within the dealership which is reflective of an existing process not being beneficial to the customer experience. The case study that we will be sharing is that of the Scott Clark Auto Group, who is a brilliant example of what can happen when you truly understand and adjust your process to the customer's needs.

Lastly, we will be talking about strategies that really engage and retain the best professionals for your organization. Everyone talks about employee retention. We will be focusing on the human element and understanding what drives employee attrition. The BDC Representative oftentimes feels unappreciated and undervalued, and this is sometimes linked to a lack of training and development, essentially a lack of opportunity to grow within the organization. People are seeking companies that put people first and invest in them individually through teaching them how to interact with people, and how to become a successful person not just at work, but in life.

We have some amazing strategies that we will be sharing with dealerships that focus on how to truly gauge employee satisfaction and how to adjust processes in order to retain talent. We dig deep into figuring out and understanding the people on your team. What makes them unique, what are their challenges? How do we best integrate this alongside the department and dealership goals?

In BDC specifically, oftentimes we get hyper-focused on how many phone calls are being made. How many customers we are talking to, and how many appointments we are booking. But really, at the end of the day the person behind the scenes has a very complex life and they have their own goals and challenges that may not be obvious or mirror the same as the department’s. And so, the key strategy is to understand and then align the goals to the business. Sarah will be joined by Elizabeth Martin, the Service BDC Manager at the Scott Clarke Auto Group, as they discuss The New BDC: Best Practices to Capture and Upsell Service Business at the upcoming CXAUTO2022.

You can expect great insights based on case studies that illustrate concrete steps implemented to improve retention and continue to build value for customers. The new BDC is driven by innovative management and leadership practices that focus on honoring the individual through training and development and, ultimately, aligning the complexity within people, teams, and departments to achieve business goals.

We would highly recommend that you see Sarah live!

You can read more about her here

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