How to Determine the Best Dealerships to Work For

Are you looking to land a job at a dealership? Stuck on which are the best car dealerships to work for? Or maybe you’re already a Service Advisor and you’re not sure if you should leave the dealership you’re currently at for another one? Or maybe you’re trying to figure out what indicators make people perceive your dealership as one of the best or one of the worst. 

If you’re in one of these situations, you might be asking yourself, “What do the best dealerships to work for specifically have in common?” If this question comes to mind, you’re already looking in the right direction, and thankfully, you’ve come to the right place. Regardless of your reason, there are key indicators that you should look for that can answer this critical question.

Now here’s 10 attributes that the best dealerships to work for all have in common. 

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10 Qualities The Best Dealerships to Work For Share

Quality 1- The Best Dealerships to Work For Have Good Customer Reviews

So the first one is good reviews. If you’re going to interview at a dealership, I would definitely check the customer reviews first. Because if they don’t take care of customers, they’re not going to take care of employees. Most of the time, bad customer reviews reflect that there’s constant chaos in their departments. 

Quality 2- You Can Book an Appointment at The Best Car Dealerships 

After checking for good reviews, the second step would be to call them to try and make an appointment. This is another significant indicator in determining whether the dealership is a good place to work at. 

For example, if they’re booked out for three weeks, it’s definitely not a place I want to work unless I’m a tech. But I don’t want to be an advisor in a place that’s booked out for more than a week. Because this tells you that you won’t be able to get the work done. It’s another key indicator of a chaotic dealership trying to do business. So if there are bad reviews, and it’s chaotic and hectic, you’ll be writing too many ROs, and you won’t be able to get the work done. And if customers hate it, you’re gonna hate your job even more. You’re basically going to be put in a situation where the systems are broken.

Quality 3- The Best Dealerships to Work For Have High Employee Retention

The next one is that the people that work there have been there a while. There’s employee retention, and they’ve mastered this incredibly hard feat. There isn’t constant turnover, which is something I would ask people wandering around the dealership. Also for employee retention, I would also ask the interviewer, “How long have you been here?” 

Remember to Check for Techs!

Within high employee retention, there’s a sub-quality to check for. You should definitely check whether the dealership is sufficiently staffed in techs. There’s so much more turnover we’re seeing lately in the Service Advisor position, because they’re writing too many RO’s and they can’t get the work done. And so if you don’t have technicians, and that goes back to being booked out, then it’s safe to say their CSI score is probably hurting too. 

Quality 4- Assess the Cleanliness of the Shop and Drive

The other one is that the best dealerships to work for maintain clean working conditions and environments. You wouldn’t want to work in an environment that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Ensuring a clean working environment also makes the employees feel cared for and promotes your dealership’s culture

Quality 5- The Best Dealerships to Work For Want You to Grow 

Moving forward, you should see if the dealership has any sort of career advancement plan that they offer. 

Let’s say that I’m a C level tech, and I sit down with the manager, and they’re going over what it’s like to work for them. And they’ve got a career path progression plan for me. They explain what working for them does for me. They also provide a timing framework for how long it would take to get to this level. 

If they’re saying, “I’ve got a plan for you” or “I’ll be a mentor,” it’s a green flag. If they’re using the right kind of verbiage as an advisor, then they’re laying out the career pathway like, “Hey, so you come in as an advisor, and here are the next levels of success.” They are good and effective leaders. They’re always thinking about the next step for their people in progression, not just filling a job vacancy.

In our industry, oftentimes applicants go somewhere, and then immediately hear, “Well, if you want to be a manager, this is the place to be.” But they never talked to the individual. So it’s an empty promise. It becomes manipulative. If a dealership has a career advancement system and a path setup, you can see what the next place is and where you’re heading. Instead of just believing in an empty promise, thinking “oh, I got this hope.” 

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Quality 6- You Can Feel The Owner’s Presence At The Best Car Dealerships 

This next one is backed by a common phenomenon I see occur. I did a strategy session recently for a family owned dealership. Dad is on the call, and he’s telling me how he’s involved in the dealership. 

Being an owner of a dealership is to represent a brand and people passion. There’s a lot of clarity and vision that comes when the actual person that owns the shop is involved. There’s just a motivating force surrounding that active involvement.  

Usually, when somebody is involved in the business, they’re also vested in the people that work for them. And they’re vested in the customers, and they’re probably a part of the community. Let’s say they’re out on lunch, and somebody’s like, “I took my car in for an oil change, and it took four hours,” then they’re hearing that in their circles. They hear it pretty quick, too, because they’re a part of the community, they’re a part of the business. 

This presence becomes critical for many reasons. So, if a customer’s like, “I want to talk to the owner,” then you’re assured they’re there, and they will take the phone call. Some of the best dealerships to work for are the ones where either the General Manager or the owner is actively involved in the community, and actively involved in the business. 

There’s something special to that presence, when somebody cares. And you can feel it as much as anything.

Quality 7- The Best Car Dealerships Are Run By Leaders

This next quality comes down to what it really means to be a leader. Tagging off of the owner’s presence, leaders lead people by empowering them to achieve their goals. And in a business, you want to clarify their vision and lead them to how they will achieve this vision. 

When it comes down to talking about the leader versus manager, there’s one dealer group in particular that comes to mind. They have multiple General Managers over multiple stores and he’s engaged in those stores. And he’s very visible in those stores. He’s vested, he’s got an interest. He’s asking questions about it. Engaged leaders will create the best dealers. 

Quality 8- The Best Dealerships to Work For Will Provide the Training You Need

A Service Advisor asked me recently what she can do to improve herself because she’s fairly new to the store and they refuse to provide her with any training. So, they’re refusing to train her. And they expect her to be good at writing 25-30 RO’s, take in 60 appointments, and provide impeccable service on a daily basis. That is ridiculous. 

She even felt guilty that this diminishes the service she provides to the customer. That guilt she expressed already shows she’s a decent advisor– she’s just in the worst environment an advisor can be in. This environment is a chaotic one, where the advisor is confident and competent, but there’s no training system in place for what they’re doing. And that’s a reflection of poor management. 

Quality 9- The Best Dealerships to Work For Care for the Customer (CSI Score)

Finally, the last one the best dealerships share is that they have an overwhelming passion for customers. This tells you that they have an overwhelming passion for attracting the right employees also. 

Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of dealerships where they cheat their CSI. It’s never consistent. There are even some manufacturers who change the survey just for this purpose. But that’s taking away the entire purpose of this vital indicator.

But, there’s a commonality between the number one dealerships in the country. This common philosophy they share pertains to the belief that the customer is right. They’re not trying to win an argument with the customer. They’re trying to figure out how to improve the customer experience. The best dealerships to work for are those that earn their CSI score, and not try to cheat it. 

How to Become One of The Best Dealerships to Work For

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The best dealerships in the game use this training.

Now, how and who does this list help? The “who” is quite evident– people wanting to work in our industry and those who already do. But what about the “how”? We’ve disclosed certain questions to ask and identified dealership red and green flags. But how does this help the actual owners themselves? 

If you’re a dealership owner or a General Manager, and reading this list sparked some guiltiness in yourself, then that’s a great sign. You may also want to check whether your shop follows any of the 10 Don’ts of Business. It’s great, because you are realizing that you need to change the way you manage your stores and teams and that you have ample room for improvement. As leaders, we are always working towards improvement and empowerment.

The Best Car Dealers Use Effective Leadership Training 

It’s unbelievably ironic at how leadership training is always overlooked or deemed as unnecessary, when this is the most important skill to hone our craft in. Everyone benefits from leadership training in our industry, down to our techs and parts runners.

If you’re asking yourself why you’re having high turnover or your tech’s are consistently booked out for months, then the question you should really be asking yourself is, “How can I improve my leadership skills, so that I can better keep and lead my team?”

Those that have used leadership training and found it to be ineffective, probably thought this for one of two reasons. The first reason being that they took effectiveness in terms of the length of time, instead of keeping the end in mind. They were not focused on the goal or outcome of the training, but rather, found it to be useless because of how much time it took to actually go through the entire program. 

The second reason being that the leadership training carried a lot of dog whistles in it. Meaning, this training was an immediate solution that treated the symptom, and not the cause. And they do this by dancing around the issue and beating around the bush with it. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty common sight to see with these types of training programs. 

Where Can I Find Leadership Training That is Actually Effective? 

If you’re interested in getting leadership training that actually works, I’m currently in the process of creating a leadership training program that is systematically scaled and special to business owners, including those outside of our industry. If you want to read more now, check out how Adaptive Leadership Training can benefit you. Or you can learn how leaders in our industry have shifted their approaches since the pandemic.

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