LAS VEGAS -- Chris Hill is on a mission to wipe business development centers from the face of auto retailing.
Speaking at an overflow session of the Digital Dealer 15 conference here, the e-commerce director at Bill Jacobs Auto Group in Joliet, Ill., said business development centers exist because sales managers have failed to train and motivate their salespeople properly to return phone calls to prospects and follow up on form leads that come via the dealership Web site.
"We're allowing country clubs in the dealership," Hill said.
In January after months of preparation, Hill dismantled his seven-person business development center and moved the staff out on the sales floor with the other sales people at the 10-franchise group.
He cross-trained the business development center employees to sell vehicles in the showroom and the existing salespeople to answer e-mails, text and handle the phones properly. A number of the group's stores, including its Cadillac dealership, have had record sales in the aftermath, Hill said.
A business development center employee, he noted, earns about $50,000 a year in wages and benefits doing the critical job of answering phones and e-mails that salespeople say they are too busy to do. Hill isn't buying that.
He said salespeople do have the time, and they're using that as an excuse for not learning new technology and filling their days talking with customers instead of waiting with a cigarette for somebody to walk in the showroom off the street.