Many professionals find it difficult to leave their current position with a dealership. There are many reasons —comfort with your position, relationship with the current staff or even the location to your house. As sales professionals in the car business, I believe the average employee stays entirely too long. According to Driving Sales, “The annualized turnover rate for all dealership positions is 39.4 percent. That figure is a 3 percent increase year-over-year. One-year retention for all positions hit 71 percent and three-year retention came in a 47 percent.” Well, if this is true, how can a salesperson stay to long at their dealership?
Believe it or not, your current dealership does not care about you. Sure, they care about your well-being, but they do not care if you stay or go. Deep down, the car business is a ruthless business. They will replace you in a second. If you are a strong producer, they obviously want you to stay. However, everyone is replaceable. After one month they will talk about how much they miss you. After a couple more months, they tell stories about the good times when you worked there. After six months, however, the dealership has their new stories without you.
So again, how long do I stay at my current dealership and position? There’s an old saying in the car business: “If you want to get promoted, change dealerships.” I believe five years should be a target for your stay. The first few years you begin to build your credibility as a producer. Upper management notices your talent and will promote you within the first three years.
After a couple more years at your new position, however, chances are the dealership has you exactly where they want you. Whether you’re a finance manager, sales manager or general sales manager, you will be promised that your opportunity is coming — but it will never come. They will dangle the “promotion carrot” in front of you as long as they can. What eventually happens is your attitude with the dealership or the upper management will begin to sour. We end up leaving in a blaze of glory. We get fired or quit and burn the bridge completely down.
You can leave your dealership on good terms. Understanding the nature of the business and keeping your time frame in mind will ensure you leave with the support and encouragement of your former dealership.