Automotive Dealership Sales Managers


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 car sales manager.

Ask your school's career services office to help arrange an informational interview with an auto dealership sales manager. Discuss the pros and cons of working in car sales management, find out about the manager's educational and professional background, and ask them for general advice and request if you can job shadow them 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 sales managers work closely with dealership owners in hiring and managing sales teams, setting sales goals, establishing employment procedures, and liaising with other departments within the dealership.

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.

Sales managers help the dealership owner manage the overall performance of the main showroom and staff. The most important responsibility of sales managers is the hiring and training of the showroom's sales force and support staff. Sales managers assign duties and hours to employees, monitor their progress, evaluate their monthly sales performance, implement incentives and sales drives, and promote and increase base salaries or commissions when appropriate. When an employee's performance is lacking, it is the sales manager's duty to identify the problem and suggest needed changes. At times, the sales manager may have the unpleasant task of firing employees.

Many times, a customer will try to negotiate a lower price for a vehicle from a salesperson. The salesperson may try to counter with added price breaks or extra options at no charge. The salesperson usually has to confer with the sales manager regarding extra discounts off the invoice price. The sales manager has final say over financial transactions with a customer, and may also have influence on what financing options to extend to customers. While the best-case sales scenario is to sell a vehicle at its sticker price, salespeople do not mind negotiating price. Sales commissions, monthly quotas, and "kickbacks"—commission paid to the dealership from the manufacturer—are incentives to negotiate price to close a sale.

Sales managers liaise with other managers and workers at automotive dealerships, including the finance and insurance department, which 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.