Auto Dealer Career Information

Auto dealers work in one of the most competitive of all sales jobs in any industry. This work is based on pure commerce, and while it can be an extremely rewarding career, it's also a true pressure job.

The Work Environment

Auto dealers work in multiple sales environments, usually on a commission or a combined retainer and commission basis:

  • Retail car sales, used and new: This is the familiar car dealer local car yard business.
  • Fleet sales: Fleet sales relate to sales of numbers of vehicles for government, corporate, and other organizations. This form of sales also relates to commercial vehicles.
  • Distribution sales: This form of sales is sales from the manufacturer to distributors at fleet and retail level.

At all levels, auto dealerships are high performance sales environments. The commercial environment is based on cash flow, and a job can be made or lost on sales volumes. Car dealerships both need and demand sales on a strictly targeted basis. This is an industry where overheads can be high, and sales values have a direct impact on commercial viability. Cars that don't sell depreciate in real value relatively quickly, and most dealerships require strong turnover in order to take in new models with good sales potential.

As salespeople, auto dealers are among the best, because of this very high pressure environment. Anyone wanting a good grounding in sales would find an excellent training ground. Car sales are true market-driven and consumer driven sales. There are several basic auto dealership markets which reflect the entire consumer market:

  • Used cars: The theoretical bottom of the market, somewhat less frenetic in terms of margins, because profit values are built in on the purchase price. Some used car dealerships are very lucrative, but most are mid-range commercial propositions.
  • Family car sales: This is the core auto market, with high unit volumes and often a lot of competition between models. New car sales give very high values to auto dealerships, and the sales environment is very much focused on the cash flow in this market.
  • Family vehicles like vans: A higher value version of the sedan market, producing good cash flow and commissions.
  • Sports cars: A very high value market for new cars. Sales can produce excellent commissions, and experienced auto dealers often gravitate to this area.
  • Light commercial vehicles: This area includes utility vehicles, vans, and other commercial vehicles. Some auto dealerships specialize in this lucrative area of sales.
  • Luxury cars: Expensive cars like limos, and top of the range sedans form the upper bracket of the consumer market. These are usually specialist auto dealerships, with very high values in commissions and profit margins.


Varies depending on terms of employment and commission structures.


Can be very long, and based on sales requirements of dealerships.

The Career Environment

If the work environment seems like a lot of hard work, that hard work pays off. Successful auto dealers are often millionaires, and many have large franchise and distribution deals worth millions. This is a pure business market, and talented auto dealers are often able to build thriving businesses, either in general or niche markets.