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13 Skills You Need to Build a Successful Car Dealership

Becoming a car dealer isn’t easy especially in the United States. You will need proper licensing and business experience to compete in this industry.

Car dealers are also expected to file a surety bond with the resident state’s DMV before they get an auto dealer license. The license allows them to sell vehicles in that state. Purchasing a bond can be very confusing. A surety bond is a form of insurance that is designed to protect consumers and the state from fraud.

With the car sales industry holding so much potential for continued growth, you may be eager to jump in the market, but note that the very first step toward figuring out how to be a successful car dealer is deciding the kind of automobiles you want to sell.

While there are no special skills required by states in the United States, there are practical skills most business owners in this industry are expected to have. First, they need a strong sales background. They also need a strong business and management background.

Skills and Experiences You Need to Build a Successful Car Dealership

  1. Adaptability

A car dealer is expected to be adaptable because every customer you deal with will be different. Your customers will have different opinions, different budgets, and different needs and sometimes they may be quite strange. It is your job to relate to and connect with grandma when she wants to buy a car and then be able to switch gears and work with a first time car buyer.

You need to be adaptable, very adaptable. You need to be able to relate, bond, and build rapport with every single customer if you want to sell more cars. Adaptability doesn’t end there either because the automotive industry is constantly changing including your dealership.

New managers, new sales people, new technologies, and whatever else gets thrown your way require that you are adaptable and that is why this car dealer skill is important.

  1. Positive Attitude

A positive attitude about your dealership, product, and yourself will take you a long way when it comes to being successful. You can learn the best car dealer techniques, but if you don’t use them with a positive attitude and enthusiasm they won’t help.

If you enjoy spending your time bitching and moaning about everything under the sun, then simply get a government job, but if you are going to be a success as a car dealer you need a positive attitude.

  1. Product Knowledge

Car buyers usually come prepared with lots of questions. To successfully sell to them, you need to have a thorough knowledge of the car they’re looking for–not just technical specs; you need to be able to answer their questions on factory rebates, the manufacturer’s warranty, dealership services, local sales taxes, license fees, and so on.

No one is going to expect you to know all the specifications about a particular car or truck, but you should at least learn all of your models, colors, trim levels, and options. You should also know your current incentives and how things are done when buying a car.

  1. Accessibility

Some might argue that accessibility is more of a personality trait than a car dealer skill, for some people it needs to be learned and developed. Have it in mind that Sales and referrals are lost all the time because a car dealer is not available for a phone call or showroom customer.

At this age, people tend to be quite impatient, and if they have to call or email you repeatedly before they get an answer, there is a good chance you are losing potential sales. Answer your calls; give everyone your phone number and email address. Return calls and emails promptly. Be the car dealer that can be reached when a customer has a question or a concern.

  1. Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is part of the sales process. A car buyer most likely will have done their homework before approaching the dealership. And, it is not uncommon for them to try to negotiate a deal on the purchase price, based on the knowledge they have.

The job of the car dealer is to aim toward sealing the deal in a way that leaves both parties satisfied but makes the customer believe that they have bagged the best deal.

  1. Listening Skills

A successful car dealer maintains a good balance of communication between himself and the customer. No customer wants to be approached by a salesperson who only talks about the cars they are selling and what makes their dealership the best. Always make sure you allow the time necessary to let the customer have their say.

A good listener pays attention, makes good eye contact, doesn’t interrupt what the other person is saying, and displays a genuine interest in what’s on the customer’s mind. You should do your best to make sure all customer questions are answered promptly with useful information.

  1. Being Observant

This means that you should be aware of what is going on around you at all times. What cars are being sold, what new cars are coming in and what trades are being taken in on a daily basis? What is going on in the showroom? Are there fresh ups not being greeted?

Are there customers wandering the lot looking for help? Are opportunities to sell more cars slipping through your fingers?

Note that if you fail to know what is going on right here at your dealership you are probably missing opportunities and deals. These car sales skills are about more than the customer that is setting in front of you, you also need to be aware of switch cars, changes, and opportunities when they are presented to you.

  1. Financial Literacy

To run a successful dealer shop, you need the ability to think, reason, and solve problems with numbers. You don’t need to be a mathematician, but you must be comfortable doing basic calculations, whether it is adding, subtracting, or working out decimals and percentages.

Customers will want to know how much their monthly repayments will be and will expect an accurate answer. You will also need to understand financial policies and procedures related to vehicle financing and discounts, as well as examine financial data.

Car dealers need to prove they can effectively handle administrative duties, oversee financial transactions and ensure compliance with financial policies.

  1. Organizational Skills

Keeping track of referrals, follow-ups, appointments, phone calls, be-backs, fresh ups, and closing ratios will help you get more sales. Note that forgetting to do things is one of the quickest ways to infuriate a customer and that’s the last thing you need when you sell cars for a living.

You need every customer you can get, so you don’t lose any opportunities. This might not be the most important car dealer skills required for success, but it definitely helps keep the bills paid.

  1. Persuasion Skills

Other than technical knowledge, persuasion may be the most valuable skill for a car dealer. It is not an easy task – some customers only do ‘window shopping’ while others can’t make up their minds whether or not they should purchase the car.

Selling the benefits of the car is not enough; in many cases, buyers who walk into the dealership will require an extra nudge to make the purchase decision. The car dealer can hone their persuasion skills by using social proof i.e. convincing the customer that the car is in high demand, or by making their products seem limited or scarce.

  1. Being Personable

Even the shyest and most bashful person can connect with people one on one when all of the questions are about the customer and their needs. But when all the attention is on the buyer, even the quietest and unsocial person can be successful at selling cars.

Talk to customers like you are talking to a friend and you will connect and build rapport, but don’t forget about the car sales skill of being adaptable.

  1. Ability to sell effectively over the phone

It is not uncommon for customers to phone your dealership first to inquire about a car they’ve seen online or in a newspaper. In these cases, you are expected to use the phone as a sales tool.

This entails asking the right questions and determining the customer’s needs. If a customer ends up not buying a car they viewed at your dealership or didn’t show up for an appointment, you may be required to follow up with them if they have not already made the purchase elsewhere.

Remember that customers want to feel like they’re talking to a human being so it is imperative to be conversant with basic business phone etiquette such as politeness, patience, using inclusive language like ‘we’, empathy, etc.

  1. Self-Confidence

When you are with customers you need to make them feel that they are with a professional. Your car sales confidence will build over time, but until then you are expected to have confidence in yourself and fake it until you make it when you are with a customer.

You will be surprised how far this car dealer advice will take you in the car business. Customers don’t know you or how long you have been selling or even how successful you are at your trade, you start fresh with each customer so be the car dealer you want to become.

These are the basic skills and experiences you need to run a successful car dealership, and if you interact well with others and know everything there is to know about cars and the industry, being a car dealer might be the perfect way to put your skills to use.

However, every job comes with its pros and cons; therefore, it is advisable to learn as much as possible before you commit to this career.