Automotive Dealership Owners


Exploring this Job

Most communities have a chamber of commerce whose members usually will be glad to share their insights into the career of a business owner.

Join your high school's business club, a group that may give you the opportunity to meet business leaders in your community. Ask a teacher or counselor to help arrange informational interviews with an auto dealership owner or sales manager. Discuss the pros and cons of business ownership, find out about the owner's educational and professional background, and ask them for general advice and request if you can job shadow the owner for a day.

The Job

To give the public easy access to view and purchase their vehicles, automotive manufacturers maintain franchised dealerships throughout the United States. Automotive dealership owners manage the performance of their showroom and sales force, other departments, and act as a liaison between the manufacturer and consumers.

Dealerships are exclusive to a particular automaker, though they may offer cars from different lines. For example, a Ford dealership will have Ford models in its showroom, but may also have a separate department and sales force to promote Lincoln or Land Rover models—other automakers operating under the Ford umbrella. Many existing dealerships are family-owned franchises; some have multiple partnerships; others have consolidated dealerships into a chain representing multiple manufacturers.

The dealership owner's primary focus is to keep the showroom and all other departments operating smoothly and profitably. They establish business policies including those relating to inventory, sales and commissions, and financing. Dealership owners determine the operating budget, which will dictate the size and variety of showroom inventory, sales force and support staff, and the setup of the physical building. They also develop seasonal promotions and advertising campaigns, often working with guidelines set by the manufacturer. Several times a year they must represent the dealership at franchise meetings, where dealers receive training updates and other business support from the manufacturer. They also promote their dealership at automobile conventions and trade shows.

Dealership owners work closely with sales managers, who manage the overall performance of the main showroom and staff. They oversee sales managers and sales staff, approving hiring and training procedures, work duties and schedules, sales promotions, as well as base salaries and commissions.

Automotive dealerships also have other departments that are often as profitable as their primary business of selling cars. The service department offers repair and maintenance work for vehicles. Services include periodic tune-ups and systems checkups and repair, oil changes, brake repair, wheel alignment, and bodywork. A service department manager may supervise the work and performance of all service workers and technicians. Their duties include hiring and training of service staff, making work schedules, and establishing vehicle service policies and pricing.

The finance and insurance department often generates large profits for a dealership. A finance or insurance manager establishes relationships with financing and insurance companies, and in turn sells these products—auto loans, service contracts, extended warranties, and various credit insurance—to the consumer. This department often works closely with the sales department in offering these products when closing a car sale. The finance and insurance manager oversees the selling of service contracts and insurance policies to new vehicle buyers and arranges financing options for their purchase.