There is a distinct difference between a business development center and a business detention center. The most obvious difference of course is the attitude of your sales staff. But don't be misled into thinking that attitude is the source of the problem. The only reason the detention center cloud will ever float over your BDC will be because of a lack of results on behalf of the participating sales staff. The bottom line: no results, no participation! It's really quite simple. When you have sales consultants scheduling two, three and four app- ointments for every 90 minutes to two hours of effort, the BDC will be a positive place to guarantee sales success.

Establish That Outcome This is the same principle that author Steven Covey talks about when he suggests that we "start with our end in mind." Every BDC shift should have one primary objective: to generate quality showroom appointments.

A properly executed BDC shift will produce a minimum of one appointment per sales consultant on a bad day while averaging 2.5 to 3.5 per day under expected conditions. Of course you're asking "What must happen in order for the sales staff to average two, three and four appointments per day?"

Here are a handful of tips that have worked well for our partner dealerships:

1) Set the minimum daily objective for your dealership.

If you don't know what your objective for each sales consultant will be, how do you expect them to know? Begin with a minimum of one appointment per day per sales consultant. This will bring you to what we refer to as the 1:1 appointment ratio. Then advance yourself to 2:1 and so on. The following tips listed herein will help you in accomplishing the higher levels of appointments.

2) Provide a support team of managers to assist each sales consultant in achieving this objective.

It's one thing to tell the staff to "get in there and do your time." Not only does that sound like a prison, but it also sounds like hypocrisy. If you really want to get this done, then get involved at the sales management level. See to it that every sales consultant has the daily assistance necessary for attaining this objective. Take away the excuses and you'll see the results.

3) Tie the taking of fresh showroom prospects into the daily objective.

Like an 'up-system,' tie the taking of fresh showroom traffic into the daily quota of scheduled appointments. If a sales consultant weren't taking care of the fresh prospects the dealership has already provided them, wouldn't you want to correct that negative trend? This is not always possible in stores with a lack of sales staff and a surplus of fresh showroom prospects. Regardless, both of these issues will need to be corrected at some point.

4) Create tie-ins into the sales pay plan.

Money always talks. I have seen this adjustment (when properly implemented) work very well. Creating multiple levels of compensation for the various levels of attainment is an excellent format to get the staff and the management thinking on the same page. The general idea here is to reward the sales consultants who are effective at generating their business through a balance of BDC efforts and fresh prospects.

If sales person 'A' sells 20 vehicles but doesn't accomplish your fundamental BDC objectives for that given month, (number of appointments scheduled and showed) then they might be paid at the lowest possible rate per deal.

But if sales person 'B' sells 15 vehicles and does manage to accomplish the fundamental BDC objectives for the period, then they would be paid at the highest possible commission rate per deal. The difference could range from 20% to 35%. This sort of pay plan is fair because it rewards the more efficient sales consultants. Remember, the typical lot-hungry sales consultant might be selling vehicles, but at what cost?

5) Study the "no-hit list" and keep the staff off of it.

One of the first reports I wrote for this process early on was a daily list of appointments which included a list of sales consultants that failed to schedule an appointment for that business day. I referred to this tool as the "No-hit List." I knew that if the sales managers knew who had not scheduled an appointment for that day, we could make their job a lot easier!

6) Celebrate the victories.

This means focusing on the sales consultants who have the top three spots on the board with regard to total BDC deliveries, shows and gross generated. Whenever someone is achieving you need to celebrate the victory with him or her. Spiffs, meeting recognition, a floating trophy (we like to pass a rhino trophy around our office) are examples of celebrations. Process First

Not every sales consultant and sales manager will see the opportunity business development brings the way they should. But this comes only through education and training. The important thing is that you have the vision and the dealership is giving them every opportunity to catch the vision!

The late W. Edwards Deming taught us that process must be our first priority in every improvement effort. And yet, most of us will agree that in spite of the results that Deming produced with the process first principle, we continue to spend the bulk of our time trying to change the people instead of the process itself.

As these massive changes in our automotive retail industry continue to take place, many of the core needs continue to remain the same. Satisfy the customer. Educate and develop the staff. Improve the experience for every prospect. Retain the current owners. Grow the business. These are still the core objectives and needs.

The question is how can a dealership accomplish these tasks in today's market place unless they are organized and have a daily plan and process of integrating these opportunities to do business?

John Traver is the President/CEO of Traver Technologies, Inc. and the founder/developer of the BDC process. His Traver Technologies is currently partnered with numerous major manufacturers and over 300 dealerships in the U.S. providing business development solutions for the automotive retailer.

It is not unusual for dealerships to invest thousands of dollars in technology products that improve productivity, efficiency and or profits, then fail to take advantage of the available training.

A large investment in technology will not yield better results if the right people are not trained to properly utilize that technology.

It comes down to the same old challenge. Dealers and managers recognize the need for training and technology, but the pressure to sell cars makes it difficult to find the time to learn how to use the technology for maximum results.

Shaun Bolender, senior vice president and director of utilization for The Secondary Finance Wizard, a special finance system, says "Even though we provide free unlimited training, many managers don't want to take the time or their dealers won't allow them the time off to get properly trained."

The worse thing is to see a dealership purchase such a system, then allow it to go unused because no one has taken the time to learn how to use it.

Dealers actually have said they are too busy selling cars to take the time to get trained. This is a shame when you consider that training can be done in a minimal amount of time, yet dramatically increase productivity, profits and ultimately save them hours per week.

In spite of this, many dealers and managers will not take the time to get trained. Often those same dealers complain that they are not getting the benefits they desired or the system sits unused waiting for someone to teach themselves how to use it.

It is not enough to purchase the technology. Someone, preferably more than one, must be trained and proficient in its use. This means using a system even though it may be slower and seem more difficult while you make the transition that will allow you or your dealership to get to the next level of productivity.

It has been said, "You have to give up what you have in order to get what you want."

Technology training is like golf lessons. While you are learning new concepts and techniques, you begin to feel uncomfortable because the new process feels awkward and less productive. So what do you do? You revert to the old more comfortable manual techniques that worked in the past.

In other words, rather than go through an awkward stage, most people fail to get to the next level because they return to what feels good as opposed to working through it.

Golf instructors will tell you that your score probably will get worse before it gets better while you go through the process of making what is new and awkward feel old and comfortable. The same is true of learning to use new technology and new processes that ultimately allow for productivity breakthroughs.

As I travel the country speaking to the most successful secondary managers in the most successful secondary stores, I have noticed that each department can do a maximum of about 20-25 units per secondary salesperson. That means that a store with three secondary reps could deliver 60-75 units. The reason is time.

I ask these secondary managers if they had more time, would they sell more cars. The answer is always yes. That means the only way to get to the next level of productivity, dealerships and managers must add personnel or increase efficiency through technology.

If you thought you could invest $1,000 and get $5,000 would you invest it? Probably, even if you didn't have it you would try to get it. What about a few hours? If you thought you could invest a few hours in training to learn how sell more cars, in less time, for more money and get a return far greater than $5,000 per month, would you invest it? You should even if you don't think you have the time to spare.

When I hear people say they don't have the time to get trained on a product that they have already purchased, a product that will save them time and make them more money in less time. I think to myself, that is exactly why you need to make the time.

David Bartels is vice president of sales and marketing for Diamond Technology Inc. in Longwood, FL.