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We're all familiar with the large lots, packed side-by-side with cars, the white building not far behind with floor-to-ceiling windows and small offices lined up in its interior. The number of vehicles might out number its employees, but the career opportunities housed in car dealerships are far from few and only continue to grow.

The opportunities

What keeps car dealerships operating are more than just sales and service. Though the largest bulk of employees are salespeople and technicians, there are also other opportunities that are often overlooked. It starts at the grassroots level. When you think of the grassroots jobs, the dealership has to essentially have people that make things happen everyday, says Michael Colleran, vice-president of sales operations at Nissan Canada. So you have lot people, administrative assistants, [and] car detailers.

Salespeople and technicians are the next level up and, according to Colleran, that's your core entry-level and professional level jobs. Both of those jobs take a great deal of education and qualification. Moving up in the industry as a salesperson or technician potentially means management and even general management opportunities. Dealerships are also starting to acquire corporate-level positions within the company. You're seeing a trend throughout the auto industry where corporate concerns are buying stores or larger dealers are buying a number of stores, so they need a corporate management level group to handle all those stores, says Colleran.

The skills

Having skills in mechanics, knowledge of cars, and incorporating different sales techniques with each sale are crucial to getting the job done everyday, but there are many more qualities that fit the description of a dealership employee. Car dealerships thrive on excellent customer service. We provide superior service by making it as convenient as possible for all customers whether it's purchasing or servicing a vehicle, says RJ Cites, fixed operations director at Hendrick Honda Woodbridge. We provide excellent communication and earn our customers' business through trust, respect, and becoming a partner throughout their ownership.

A good salesperson is not only a good talker, but also must be a good listener. And ultimately, selling a car is where the operations all starts. When a dealership engages with the customer, that's the first thing they want to do is get the customer interested in not only getting them into the right vehicle, but also getting them interested in the dealerships brand as well, says Colleran. You have to find that right person that's a really good listener, that's compassionate, and could understand where a customer is coming from.

On the service side of all dealerships, Colleran says technicians almost always get into the business because of their passion for cars, so they already have that initial knowledge of cars and they want to take it to the next level. We also look for someone who can work hard and fast because in the technician side of the business, speed is essential because of the way warranty is paid out and the labour costs.

For Cites, the ideal people for car dealerships are those with good attitudes. Sales staff and mechanics should be positive and have strong communication skills with high morals and ethics.

The auto industry is booming and more jobs are being created within car dealerships. There are some extremely high paying jobs in the automotive business, says Colleran. Good salespeople can make a really good living and good technicians can make a really good living.

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