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Practical Tips for Growing BDC Sales with Marija Cvetkovska

  • December 5, 2021
27 min read
Practical Tips for Growing BDC Sales with Marija Cvetkovska

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Marija Cvetkovska
Paid Search Manager, PCG Digital

Marija Cvetkovska is a Paid Search Manager at PCG Digital. Before joining PCG Digital, she was an accomplished business development manager at two major Michigan dealer groups, The Suburban Collection and Sellers Subaru. She earned the Mark of Excellence Award from Cadillac in 2019 and 2020, which only three BDC managers receive nationwide.

Marija regularly speaks on podcasts as well as at workshops and conference presentations. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, watching football and basketball, and reading. She is also fluent in four languages.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Marija Cvetkovska talks about her transition from working on the retail side of dealerships to the vendor side and explains why many people have been making the shift
  • Marija’s thoughts on why marketers in dealerships are limited in their creativity
  • The right marketing tactics for dealerships during the current inventory shortage period
  • Marija shares her tips for conducting successful BDC sales
  • The importance of building a customer-centric dealership

In this episode…

Recent changes in the automotive industry mean that dealerships have to be flexible, creative, and consistent when coming up with better ways of serving their customers. What does this mean? Concentrating on marketing and driving leads is not enough.

The right strategy for building a better dealership, according to Marija Cvetkovska, is to focus on customer service. If customers prefer communicating through email or on the phone, then dealerships should use those methods to reach out and build relationships with them. What should you be doing with these communications? Provide leads with the information they ask for, go the extra mile to serve them better, and maintain a customer-centric dynamic, to name a few.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay is joined by Marija Cvetkovska, a Paid Search Manager at PCG Digital, to talk about practical tips for growing BDC sales for dealerships. Marija explains why she transitioned from the retail side to the vendor side of automotive, shares some marketing and communication tips for dealerships, and talks about the value of centering your customer. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics

Visit their website at to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast, where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay 0:14

Ilana Shabtay here, host of InsideAuto Podcast, where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. And before we introduce today’s guest, this episode is sponsored by The AutoLeadStar platform is built on a technology so powerful it allows you to market, sell, and service cars as you would in the real world online and at scale, making one to one matches between shoppers and inventory. AutoLeadStar is the only platform that is powered by scale, speed, and specificity to change the way dealers do marketing today. Today’s guest, which we’re super excited about, is Marija Cvetkovska. How are you doing today?

Marija Cvetkovska 0:55

All doing wonderful and just getting ready for the big meal and couple days.

Ilana Shabtay 1:00

So no, I’m so jealous. Getting ready to cook. Nice. Yeah. What are you cooking?

Marija Cvetkovska 1:06

Oh, everything, like, I am doing everything A to Z, you know, Turkey and. And, you know, like you gotta do the cultural part. Because you know, like, when you have people that are foreign coming to your house and you serve them Turkey, they will not eat it. So the lamb chops. And then you got to do the turkey and you got to do like, you know, chicken strips for the kids and all of it. So yeah.

Ilana Shabtay 1:32

Well, you’re covering all the bases. Well, it sounds like you’re an amazing hostess, and I need to make it over to your place one of these days.

Marija Cvetkovska 1:38


Ilana Shabtay 1:40

I’m excited for our conversation today. But before we start, I just want to give you a quick intro because your background is really impressive. I want people listening to know who we’re talking to. Marija now works for PCG Digital as a paid search specialist. Prior to joining PCG Marija was an accomplished business development manager at two major Michigan dealer groups. In 2019. And in 2020, she received the mark of excellence award from Cadillac which only three BDC managers received nationwide, which is unbelievable. Congratulations on that. And then for those of you who are familiar with Marija, it’s because she speaks regularly on podcasts and workshops and conference presentations. And really quick facts. So outside of work Marija likes to cook. So now I understand where all this cooking is coming from because I would ever volunteer to make all of that watching football and basketball and reading. She’s also fluent in four languages. Basically, She’s a superstar. So we’re gonna hear all about her and her automotive background today. Thank you for joining us again,

Marija Cvetkovska 2:41

No problem. Happy to be here.

Ilana Shabtay 2:43

Wonderful. So I would love to start the conversation around the topic of moving from a dealership from the retail side to the vendor side. And as you pointed out, we spoke about this a little bit before we started recording, but there seems to be a trend of dealer talent moving from retail to vendor side. Not necessarily that, that, you know, it’s always happening, but there’s definitely an uptick. So, um, give us some insight on this transition and what inspired it for you and what you think is going on in the automotive industry.

Marija Cvetkovska 3:17

Okay, so like, obviously, like it happened, right? Well, mid COVID past COVID, if I have to say so it’s like a year after the COVID happened. All Up to that point, everything that was happening in dealerships, and within the dealerships is kind of manageable. You know, like, and I like the grind, and I love being in front of the customers and just like talking to them, you know, being in BDC. And being in marketing, I was on the phone a lot with both customers and vendors and the salespeople managers. So I had that part like that, like just satisfying my needs to talk and communicate with people. So I love that, but then COVID happened. And what happened with COVID was that, in my particular role, I was the one that was left to work in a dealership, and I was the only one that was kept out of the BDC and marketing team and everybody else was, you know, unfortunately had to you know, like they had to be let go for a minute and then we call them all back. But it kind of did this thing like I got shaken up. I didn’t. I did not like telling people that we cannot keep them on through and we didn’t know when this was going to end there was just that uncertainty. They just, like, bothered me on a human level. So after they all came back and we had one of the busiest Paul inventors of all times in automotive. We also had inventory at that time. So nobody knew about that. Yeah, exactly. So it was just like, you know, we were super busy. We’re working day and night. And, you know, I just felt like what if And then they were talking about closures again, you know, towards the winter and holidays and the cases were going up, and they’re the vaccine was still Naga ting like back in like January. So I just felt like I don’t know if I can emotionally go through another close down. So I started looking into something that, you know, will not have to put me through all of that, and I purposely looked for a role, that’s not going to be a management role, because again, I just got affected on a human level, and I just, I just needed a change in that aspect. So I got, you know, like, introduced to a lot of people through the motive through the conferences, and, you know, like a lot of like, a wonderful woman working in automotive, they talk to each other. And then, you know, I got introduced to Denise from PCG, and she was hiring and we had a few conversations with the knees and the gland passion, you know, I came on board in March of this year, actually. So it’s going, I’m going on to my nine months at the PCG. And it’s just different, you know, I’m remote, I am, you know, still talking to dealers, because I have like, a bunch of like accounts that I’m working on. But I don’t have, you know, a team of people, I work on my accounts, and I only talk to the dealers who are customers. So like, it’s a little bit different. But, you know, as far as the trends of why this is happening, I actually talked to a couple people that also switched from dealerships. And one thing to the vendors, and those are some people that also have been kind of active on LinkedIn going and either having their own podcast, or, you know, attending the events, podcast, and all of that. And I think what happens is, you know, when people are in marketing, and they’re marketers by nature, being in a dealership, they feel stuck, because any idea that they have about like creative stuff, and the things that they can do to move the brand forward and build a brand. It’s, you come back and you’re excited, you’re like, I want to do this, and I want to do this and like, I’m gonna make this video and I’m gonna make this and then you get like, a big no slap that you because they don’t see an immediate ROI when you’re trying to build a brand. So like, people get discouraged, discouraged, and just, you know, like, they have enough at some point. The other thing that, like I discovered when I talked to a few of my peers that switched was the hours and the inability of most dealerships in the country to realize that our jobs can be done remotely. And if not fully remote, then at least, you know, like, have the flexibility of going remote when needed. Because lots of people in my role, you know, BDC, manager, marketing managers, not that all of us are, but most of us are, you know, family oriented, and females and we don’t look for like, any kind of special arrangements is that about that, we’re just like, need to have that flexibility to when we need it, because we do take care of our families on top of working and doing everything else. So having that flexibility will not just help, you know, people stay in dealerships, but will also attract talent from, you know, other industries to come in automotive. Because I work nine to nine on Mondays and Thursdays and every Saturday, I have not had a Black Friday off in seven years. So like, those are the things that I’m now learning to appreciate. And I don’t know if I can go back unless I would have something like, you know, a deal where yeah, you know, I would have the option to you know, go partly remote, all remote, if that’s a possibility.

Ilana Shabtay 8:51

Yeah, so I think, in general, for the dealers, listening, I think flexibility is going to be huge to attract and retain the talent that they’re looking for. But something else that you said that I’d love to expand on is that marketers, you mentioned that you feel like marketers, and dealerships can’t be as creative as they’d like to be. And I’m really hoping that as an industry, we’re changing that I don’t know how you feel about that, or maybe from the vendor side, there is, you know, more leeway in the sense that like you can maybe influence that from the from the vendor versus the person at the dealership, which isn’t necessarily better. But I’m wondering what you think about the industry actually working toward getting better at that or do you feel like it’s a little bit more stuck?

Marija Cvetkovska 9:38

I feel like the industry is changing, but it’s changing very slowly. There’s obviously leaders in this area. There are dealerships out there. They’re doing a phenomenal job when it comes to you know, their marketing and creativity and like their organic posting and you had April I think a couple weeks ago for a horde automotive I mean they’re phenomenal.

Ilana Shabtay 10:01

The first person that came to mind when you were saying Max, they said, Yes, doing everything she can to be creative and create a brand. But of course, not every dealership is like that, not every dealership has an APR.

Marija Cvetkovska 10:12

And she also had to work really, really hard and to work 20 plus years to get to that point where she’s tested to just do that. And that’s the problem. You know, like a lot of people in dealerships are not there 20 plus years, and they don’t have a say. And, again, going back to that because dealerships are a 30 day cycle type of business. So everything happens within 30 days. And on day one of the new month we start all over again, the incentive starts every first of the month. And there’s not like such thing as like planning or budgeting or like having like a yearly reviews for like, what are we going to do in next 12 months and stuff like that, in most dealerships doesn’t happen again, there’s so many dealerships that are doing it, and they do stand out, there’s a reason they stand out. But when I’m talking about the dealerships that don’t do it, I’m talking about like probably 80% of the dealerships in this country that don’t. And when you’re somebody that wants to come in, and wants to post on Facebook and and take pictures around and make a video and do all of this around the store. The way most journals see that is like you’re not doing anything you’re playing with your camera. And it’s just sad, you know, like, it’s like, it hurts your feelings like like, it’s just like, hey, like, I’m really trying to make our dealership a brand, I’m really trying to get our reviews up. And I’m really trying to get us more customers because you do care about you know, the physical, actual leads, and lead forms or phone calls. Well, you get more of those if people know who you are, and know what you’re standing for. Because at the end of the day, with the you know, modern retail, and where you know, digital retail coming into play, we’re not gonna have so much on a price to haggle on, you know, like, it’s so important right now, it’s like we have the better price. Like, like the way the industry is right now. And lots of people are going into that direction, where transparency is going to be a thing. And it’s going to be kind of like a one price model for lots of dealers in the future. I think that people need to really take it seriously and work on building that brand. Because once you’re able to just get that same car anywhere and the price is the same, the only decision as a consumer that you’re going to have to make is where to get it, and you’re gonna make that based on that brand that has been or not been created.

Ilana Shabtay 12:47

Yeah, and I think that’s a good segue into talking about marketing during the shift the chip shortage, because a lot of the dealers that we speak to, and again, it depends on, you know, when we spoke to them, and which kind of dealer it is, but a lot of them the gut instinct was to stop all marketing or pause all marketing, because there’s suddenly no inventory. But as we got into it, it’s actually one of the most competitive times for dealer because exactly what you’re saying it’s all about where are you going to get your your car when cars aren’t available, like who is going to have give you that amazing customer experience, that’s going to have the consumer wait three months for them to lease that Subaru Forester that they’re looking for. So, um, you know, obviously I’m a proponent of focusing on brand strategy and service and, and figuring out how to continue the marketing strategy so that you do stand out as a brand and don’t lose that momentum when inventory does come back. I’d love to know what you think about marketing during this time. And again, like how that ties into the importance of brand campaigns.

Marija Cvetkovska 13:55

So two sides, like when I was at the dealership, COVID happened the same kind of thing. Everybody jumped ship and started canceling everything left and right even though the vendors came up and said, We’re gonna do 50% off for three months, we’re gonna do it free for like 90 days or something like that, but the dealership still wants them cancelled. Same thing is happening right now with this shortage. And it’s just again, going to that point of like 80% of the dealers are just not getting it. And I am very loud when it comes to that point and saying things like, please do not cancel anything, not even lower the budget, if anything, increase the budget, just move it around to the appropriate channel. So I’m not saying that, go ahead and run your new inventory dynamic campaigns when you have that person a lot. Right? Absolutely not. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying, figure out how to build a campaign. Are you trying to buy more vehicles? Awesome. Build a campaign that will get people to sell you their cars without trading their cars, because most people think, if I’m going to go and sell my cars to a dealership, I will have to get something else in between. But lots of dealerships are now buying inventory no matter what, but nobody’s advertising that. You know, dealers are doing wonderful, especially this time of the year with like, actions and they’re like joining like Gleaners and leader dog for the blind, then all the super efforts with all the dog and you know, like, like all this charities, and they’re doing, they’re Feeding America literally, like giving 1000s hundreds of 1000s millions of dollars to charity, that nobody’s talking about it. And that is something that they can, like build, like their complete brand on. Because they partner with this, they give to, you know, cancer Foundation’s year round, they do the walks, you know, dealership personnel go out and do this, like three mile five mile work or somebody in a dealership is affected, or their family members are. Nobody’s ever talking about it, it’s not on the website, it’s not on the Facebook pages. Anytime you see anything the dealership does with charity is like if somebody from the dealership was doing it, and they posted on their personal message, they are not asking their, you know, employees to share the content that they’re, you know, like, so it’s like, I would definitely not cut the marketing. And, you know, at PCG, we’re like educating and working with, you know, our clients on making sure that they’re still satisfied, we understand it’s hard. You know, when you don’t have cars to sell, but your service departments still open, you can still have a tire campaign, it’s really successful, because it’s mentor, you can have videos to teach your customers how to winterize their cars, if they’re in the area where there’s snow, or if they’re an area where there’s salt from the ocean. So like, there’s so many different things that you can do to help your customers because the inverter is going to come back and Benoit right now. And I don’t know when I’m going through the thing where you’re going to lose the position with Google and Facebook and all of this, and you’re going to have to pay triple the amount to get your old position back. Because some people did not get sold the marketing portion of you know, your budget. So,

Ilana Shabtay 17:19

right. And I would also say that, because it’s not just that they’re gonna pay double, but it’s also that dealers have the budget. Now it’s not that it’s not that there’s no inventory, and there are no sales. And I think that would be a very different type of crisis. But it’s actually dealers who are grossing higher. And it’s just, it’s almost like the pipeline has been shifted, like the cars are now just sold before they come to the lot. But it seems like dealers are enjoying it. And it’s and it’s beneficial. And especially because the budget is there, I would say, um, you end up losing more, because you like you said, lose your positioning, and then you’re going to have to, you know, pay triple the amount for a lead, when when you don’t have to necessarily do that, and you have the budget to cover it for this time. Now, just because of your history with working with BDCs, I’m interested in knowing if you have any practical tips for dealers listening about how BDCs maybe will shift during a time like, either either during the pandemic, or even with with, you know, a chick shortage, like, what types of things do you think about when you think about successful BDC? During something like this? Are there different scripts that you implement? Are there you know, do you search for leads in a different way, depending on like, if you have a vehicle acquisition strategy for the dealership, I’d love to hear a little bit about that just so we can, you know, get some of your your BDC knowledge even though that’s not necessarily where you’re at anymore.

Marija Cvetkovska 18:45

That’s okay, I love talking about BDC, I’m going to be talking about BDC, next 20 years, and following that area, because I think it’s really important and I I see it changing in a way where like, a lot of dealerships are now considering that, you know, A to Z model. And I think that if they are going to go in that direction fully, or like lots of stores are going to go into that direction, they will still still need some type of help, some type of BDC. So that the way the BDC is looks like my change, but what BDC is due to the dealership out will never change. And ideally, you know, in 2021 2022 and beyond, I think it’s important for BDCs and salespeople that answering to the leads is, you know, almost like getting off the script. Because nothing about this time of you know, nothing about this inventory shortage. Nothing about COVID Nothing about any of this could have anybody ever written in any script ever. Right. But there’s something about dealerships and like some salespeople because when you walk into every store in the nation, there’s like one or two salespeople that have been there 30 plus years and they have our Selling 3040 50 units a month. And anytime you talk to one of those people, there’s one thing in common customer service, they’re phenomenal at customer service, following up and helping their customers and going the extra mile to help their customers. Is it them going and picking up their car for the service? Is it them talking about their like car, you know, for, you know, their cousin, when they got into an accident that they help them out with, you know, like a different makeup model, like anything that they can do their their trusted person for any automotive meet, like, so anything happens, that’s all related, even if it’s not for that dealership, or that model and make this person is there for the customer. So I see the BDC is like developing in that area where they are gonna be helping customers with their needs. Yeah, I love the customer, when the customer calls in, and they’re either, you know, like looking for a car or looking for service, the BD sees need to be able to figure out how they can help. Yes, scripts are important, because this is how we get, you know, the information and how we get like people. But we’re moving away from that appointment setter. You know, because people don’t want to come in, if they’re not getting the information that they’re asking for, you know, people get off chat, because they are not getting the information, they’re getting off. People get off Facebook Messenger, because they’re not getting information. We live in an era where everything is instant, right? Like I need it. Now I want it right away. And if you don’t do it, somebody else will. So dealerships need to change the focus, going to customer service shoes, and help their customers understand. And if a customer wants to come in, they’ll come in regardless, you really don’t have to set the appointment. If you do a really, really, really good job on serving that customer, answering all of their questions and helping them I bet you like anything you want, they will still come to your dealership without the appointment and buy a car from you. So like we need to change that focus of like, solely, like, I need all of your information before I give you any information. And I need to sell appointments no matter what. We just need to communicate and talk to them the way they want to be talked to. So if they’re talking to us on Facebook Messenger, we talk to them on Facebook Messenger. If they’re talking to us on chat, there’s a reason they want to talk to us on chat, we continue to talk to them on chat. If they’re calling, we’re calling them back. If they’re emailing, you’re emailing them back. But the times we’re like you get a lead. And you start calling them for 90 days, and they never answer. And like it’s a waste of time. For BDC. It’s based on sales, it’s just basically spending the money where you don’t suppose if somebody is asking for a tax, we got a tax. Obviously, all the guidelines, regulations are like texting or messaging. But if somebody is asking for a tax, we got a tax and somebody wants an email, we got an email. So I like talking to the customers like, what they are human, helping them, you know, focusing on customer service, and they will come in and buy cars from us. No questions about it. That’s like my take on where the future is? I don’t know how exactly that’s gonna happen. Yeah, that’s okay. But you know, I think that’s where it’s going or should be going.

Ilana Shabtay 23:23

Yeah, so being more authentic. And especially in times of crisis like this, where a lot is unpredictable, almost ditch the script, you know, have the training, ditch the scripts, so that you can be authentic and, and just be customer centric, which of course, is the number one priority for dealers on and off?

Marija Cvetkovska 23:40

Exactly. 100%. Because, you know, like, if you have a customer and you’re set, let’s say you’re a salesperson that answers deletes, right. And then you have like, somebody that like sent in, you know, they wanted more information on, let’s say, that Subaru Forester you were talking about earlier, and they want to know if this particular car comes in, you know, blue with this particular package, but you send them this long email that’s like four pages long, that did not answer their questions and set you send them everything they not want to know. Yeah. Yeah, if you have that same customer come to the showroom, you know, meet and greet and say, Hey, I’m looking at the forester. I’m interested in this particular package. I want to limit it. I just want to know if it comes in the blue. I don’t know what super blue is called. But, you know, like, I want to know if it’s coming in this blue as a salesperson, you’re going to be like Okay, great. So you’re looking at Blue foresters, or any other colors that you’re interested in. You start with questions, you start with interviews, starting with serving them, right online when they’re in the messenger and where they’re in the phone call or the text. What do we do? We send them this mile long email. We lived in voicemails like Hi, my name is Marija and I’m calling. I just want to say you’re still interested in requests are goodbye. Yeah. No one wants to come out. Nobody wants to deal with that. Yeah, there’s a reason people send us to Google Voice numbers. Yeah, I noticed this trend like two or three years ago, nobody’s even leaving their real phone number. There’s no real names. It’s just like, it’s happening. And dealers are not realizing why it’s because you’re not giving them what they’re asking for simply.

Ilana Shabtay 25:23

Yeah. And well, I think we could talk about BDC best practices, other episodes. So let’s, let’s save that. But, Brad, thank you so much for joining us today. I think we covered a lot. We talked about everything from, from your new transition from retail to vendor and how that influences your work and the chip shortage and a little bit about the pandemic. And then of course, practical tips for BDCs in the direction that we think that BDCs are going which is obviously customer centric based. So thank you so much for all of your knowledge. And for those who listened in and like this episode, please tune in to Thank you again, Marija.

Marija Cvetkovska 26:02

No problem. Thank you for having me.

Outro 26:08

Thanks for listening to the InsideAuto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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