Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesman

I would like to take a moment and give you an idea of what a car salesman goes though during a typical day at a car dealership. Keep this in mind when you show up to look at cars five minutes before the dealership is about to close.

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There are some professional car salesmen out there making a very good living selling new and used cars. If you'd like to learn more about the commission structure and pay plans of a dealership, read my chapter on how car salesman get paid.

Even though I take a humorous approach on how a typical day plays out for a salesman in a dealership. I've had several hundred car salesman email me from car dealerships all over the country confirming the truths within my article, "Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesman."

To protect the innocent, I've decided to leave out a few things like grabbing a car for a quick errand off the premises, taking a nap in a mini-van out on the lot, or even taking a car to your girlfriend's house for a couple hours. (Don't laugh, you know who you are.)

If you're reading this because you're thinking about making retail car sales a career path. I would say, "Go for it!" The rewards of selling cars can be great, but it's not as easy as it looks, and can actually be very tough the first few months if you're not prepared and don't know what to look out for. Visit my other article Life Cycle of a Car Salesman to get a better understanding of some of the physical and mental obstacles you may encounter on your journey to becoming a professional car salesman.

Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesman

The following time-line is a fairly detailed list of what an average car salesman may go through in a typical day working at a car dealership.

7:00 am

  • Get up early and check the weather, it's going be a hot one, 102 degrees and muggy. State the "Car Salesman's Mantra," better get to the car dealership by 7:45 am.
  • Grab something to eat on the way to the dealership, check social media sites.
  • Arrive at the dealership, open up cars, move cars to display areas, blow up, and display balloons or banners.

8:15 am

  • Go to morning meeting for the "pump up speech" by managers (or yelled at for the poor performance from the day before, you just never know).
  • Beat a couple levels on Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, or whatever game you happen to be working on.
  • Work the phones, text messages, and email. Follow up with your previous customers or cold call a few new ones..
  • Complete thank you cards and write follow up letters to previous customers you've worked with. (Don't forget to ask, "Who they know needing a new car?")
  • Get yelled at by manager for sitting at your desk and not being outside on the point (front of store waiting for drive-in traffic).
  • Go outside and get on point to wait for ups (customers) to stumble onto the lot..

10:00 am

  • Politely greet an up (customer) and get yelled at by the customer because they don't want any help.
  • Have to keep trying to assist the customer so you don't get yelled at by a Manager for not taking control of the customer.
  • Customer ends up leaving the dealership and you don't get their name, phone or address for the "up-log."
  • Get yelled at by manager for letting the customer walk and your told you can leave too if you walk another one.
  • Management has lot party. Salespeople must rearrange all the cars and trucks on the lot to give it a fresh look.

12:00 pm

  • Go to lunch (make it quick you're paid by commission) can't make money if you're eating lunch.
  • Slam down your lunch, come back to the dealership and get back on point.
  • Get yelled at by sales manager for standing around and not being on the phones prospecting.
  • Get on the phone and get yelled at by another manager for being at your desk and not out on the point.
  • Get another customer, present and test drive 6 different cars in 100* weather.
  • Spend 5 hours with the customer and the deal falls through because of financing (totally out of the salesman's control).

5:00 pm

  • Go out back and throw rocks at the dumpster to clear your head about the last car sale you just lost to financing.
  • Go back to the front of the dealership and get back on point.
  • Management decides to get prepared for a Red Tag Sale for the upcoming weekend.
  • You get in and out of hot cars with your fellow salesman to hang red tags from the rear view mirrors of every car on the lot.
  • You spend another hour and a half standing out on the point greeting other salespeople's appointments as they show up on the lot (at least you finally beat that level on Candy Crush).

8:30 pm

  • You finally get an up (customer) right before closing time. You meet, greet, sheet and qualify. You're ready to go home, but you have a good feeling about this one.
  • You do a couple of presentations and test drive a couple cars. You finally get them landed on a car.
  • You write up the deal and present the numbers to the customer. Being unrealistic, the customer grinds the heck out of you for the best deal possible.
  • After several trips back and forth to the desk, the customer starts to get cold feet and begins making excuses that they're hungry and it's getting late (time for a Turn-Over).
  • The sales manager calls you weak because you can't close your customer and embarrasses you in front of your peers.
  • The manager catches your customer on the way out the door, says the exact same thing you did, and now magically agrees to buy the car (happens all the time).

10:30 pm

  • You turn the customer over to the finance manager as you get their new car ready for delivery (too bad detail has already left for the evening, better roll up your sleeves).
  • You now have the car detailed, fueled and ready for delivery and are waiting for the customer to get out of the finance office. (what is taking so long?).
  • 3+ hours from greeting your customer, you deliver their new car to them.
  • You end up making $100 mini commission because of some finance issue causing the profit on the deal to get cut (completely out of the salesman's control, they either cut the deal or lose it all together).
  • You find out the customer has previously talked with another salesman and now you must split your commission in half (you just went from a $100 mini to a $50 split deal).
  • You help lock up the cars on the lot (pull handles).
  • Help the managers lock up the dealership for the night.

11:45 pm

  • It's been a long day and it's time to go home. At least you sold a car, beat a couple levels on your game, and made $50 today. Go wind down and get some sleep.
  • Rinse and repeat, do it again the next day at 7:45 am (Don't be late).

In Conclusion

In my above Typical Day in the Life of a Car Salesman scenario. I let the car salesman sell a car right at the last minute. This does not happen all the time. Most of the time, car salesman will have to work hours past closing time just to have the car deal fall through at the very last minute due to credit issues or something out of the salesman's control.

(In 2016 the average car salesman sold 8 to 10 cars a month)

Be Polite and Courteous to your Car Salesman

I'm not suggesting you feel sorry for car salesman; they make the choice to sell cars for a living. I wanted to show you how their day normally plays out. I left quite a bit out of the above list i.e. helping parts and service customers, assisting absent sales peoples customers, jump-starting cars, putting on people's license plates, etc. All while being paid commission only.

My point is, you want to be nice to the salesman that approaches you. You'll be able to work that salesman with a little sugar and less salt. When I sold cars, I always went the extra mile for the customer that showed me a little respect.

When I assisted someone that was polite and had obviously done their homework, I did my very best to complete the car buying process for them in a timely and professional manner. I tried to make it the most enjoyable experience I could for them.

When working an educated customer I knew ahead of time that I would most likely be getting a "mini" (minimum commission) for a quick easy deal. So again, I wanted to get them through the process as quick and efficiently as possible. These mini-deals didn't make huge commissions but they added up toward a salesperson's "unit-bonus." (A bonus for salespeople when they sale a certain amount of cars).

I've met a lot of really interesting people in my car sales career and I still keep in touch with some of my long time repeat customers to this day.

Now that you know the ins and outs of a car salesman's day at a dealership, continue to the next chapter on how dealers pay car salesman.

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Share Your Tips - If you have any tips on a typical car salesman's day. Please tell us about it in the comments below, so we can share it with everyone.

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Did You Know?


Some car dealerships pay their sales people a draw every month. This could be up to $2000 or more.

The salesperson has to make at least that much by the end of the month to just break even with the dealer.

If the salesperson does not at least make enough money to pay the dealer back. The deficiancy balance is carried over to the next month.

If a salesperson consistantly is unable to at least sell enough to cover the draw. The dealer will most likely let them go.

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